Benefits of Beets for Runners + 15 Beet Recipes

  Mar 21, 2016  |  #Nutrition

Are you excited to talk about beet nutrition facts today and why runners should eat more?

I hope so, because I am! Beets are such a powerhouse for endurance athletes and hopefully this post will nudge you to eat more of them!

Beets Nutrition Facts & Benefits of Beets for Runners

Be straight up with me – do you like beets? Because if you don’t, you’re missing out! 

Beets are all the rage right now – are you aware of all the things you can do with them? Plus, they fit perfectly into a plant based diet for runners

From red velvety baked goods to beet smoothies to burgers, beets are becoming quite the versatile little guys (or gals).

They are also pretty delicious. 

15 beet recipes with text overlay | Bucket List Tummy


I don’t think I had beets once throughout my childhood. I was a straight simple carbohydrate kinda girl. Perfect story of a dietitian, right? I mean, I ate healthy enough but I didn’t give two thoughts to what I was putting in my body.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t even know if I knew what beets were?!

I used to be intimidated by beets – especially the canned ones. Like, what the heck do you do with them? Eat them straight out of the can? And they looked so “rooty” in real life in the grocery store – I was totally intimidated.

But there really is no reason to be intimidated because cooking with beets and including them in your routine is so so easy and nutritionally sound.

And you’ll be exposed to the beautiful, soft, velvety texture and flavors that beets provide.

canned beets


What Makes Beets So Great for Runners?

Well for one, they have these awesome phytonutrients called betalains, which have antioxidant properties, meaning them can help decrease inflammation and provide detoxification in our bodies (Source).

For all you RUNNERS, beets and beet juice also have nitrates (not like the preservatives or those in hotdogs), which bacteria in our body use and manufacture to make nitrite and nitric oxide.

Nitrite and nitric oxide can help enhance the flow of oxygen through blood vessels and reduce the amount of oxygen our muscles need.

Basically, we need less energy to perform the same amount of exercise (Source and Source). This is also the case for caffeine before running, too. 

So, think if you’re training for a marathon, this could be very advantageous when your glycogen stores start to limit.

The nitrates, by widening the blood vessels, also help to lower blood pressure (good for all of us!), and some studies say beet juice may even increase speed.

How Soon Before Exercise Should You Eat Beets?

Since blood nitrate levels peak after about 2-3 hours, it’s best to eat beets 2-3 hours before competition (Source). However, levels probably stay elevated for another 6-9 hours before declining.

So, if you can, eat shortly before competition to ensure maximum potential!

One study noted a 5% increase in speed in the final mile of a 5k for runners who took beetroot before the race, versus those who just took a cranberry placebo. 

All of us could really benefit from adding more beets into our diets, like through this beet and butternut squash salad.

Beets Nutrition Content

Beets are also good sources of folate, manganese, potassium, and fiber. And 1 cup of beets even gives you almost 10% of your iron needs.

But try to pair it with Vitamin C, like citrus or peppers, to enhance its absorption! 

Some research even points to beets having many anti-cancer benefits, mostly thanks to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory molecules.

Also, by helping to reduce blood pressure, beets (and other dietary nitrates) could help prevent atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Of course, this would require including a variety of fruits, vegetables and antioxidants in our diets, but beets are a great way to start. 

You don’t just have to eat them out of the can or roasted to incorporate beets into your diet; beets are SO VERSATILE. Allow me introduce you to some drool-worthy recipes.

Aside from deliciousness and nutrients, the beets provide a b-e-a-utiful color palate for these recipes. If you want to impress (and offer the best health!) to your guests, you should probably include beets. 

Easy Beet Recipes

Beetroot Risotto Via Strength and Sunshine


Vegan Beet Blueberry Muffins via Love Me Feed Me

15 beet recipes

Beet Brownies via A Traveling Wife

15 beet recipes

Beet Goat Cheese Avocado Sandwich (a delicious plant based sandwich!)

Berry Beet Smoothie Via Emilie Eats


Roasted Beet White Bean Dip Via Pumpkin and Peanut Butter

beet white bean dip

Chocolate Chip Beet Bagels Via Beets Not Meats

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Almond Butter Beet Salad Via Fooduzzi

Red Velvet Pancakes via That Girl Shannon


Root Vegetable Hash Via Passports and Pancakes

why runners should eat more beets

Beetballs Via Clean Green Simple


Chocolate Beetroot Doughnuts Via Vegan Insanity 


Vegan Antioxidant Power Bowl via Bucket List Tummy

Vegan Buddha Bowl in white bowl with quinoa, tempeh, avocado, beets, peppers, sweet potatoes

Beet, Goat Cheese and Honey Tart Via How Sweet It Is

Why Runners Should Eat More Beets, Beet Honey Tart

Beet Lemonade via Foodie Crush

Why Runners Should Eat More Beets

Or, how about Beet Pasta via A Beautiful Mess

Why Runners Should Eat More Beets

What’s your favorite way to incorporate beets?

Runners, do you drink beet juice?

46 responses to “Benefits of Beets for Runners + 15 Beet Recipes

  1. Beets have a lot of health benefits such as it boost stamina, lower blood pressure, fight inflammation, rich with fiber and nutrients, and so on. Definitely, I will give these beet recipes a try. Thanks for sharing all of these, all look yummy.

  2. Wow you have really peeked my curiosity! I have never tried beets and apparently I need to. Great post and there are so many ways to add them to your diet!!

  3. I love beets. I have a beet hummus recipe that is so good.

    My husband is training for a 300+ mile event in July so we’ve been including them in his weekly menu often. I’m going to see if he wants to add any of these recipes to future menus.

  4. I admit I am not the biggest beet fan in the world but in my mind I just think about those sad little pickled beets from a can whenever anybody mentions the word.

    These recipe look great! I just pinned them to try later.

    Great site!

    Brynn at The Domestic Dietitian

  5. I’ve heard about the running and beet association before too! I have a friend who does track and always eats beets before a big meet. I think red Velvet pancakes made with beets is the coolest thing ever, I should really look into eating these guys more often!

  6. Not totally sure how I feel about beets but wow, that beet smoothie is gorgeous! What a beautiful color! Love that beets can add such gorgeous natural color to foods you make 🙂

  7. I <3 beets. I love the little beet juice concentrated shots that they make now for runners, just because they're convenient a few hours before a run. But on an everyday basis, I'm a big fan of beets in smoothie (mango/banana/beet is my fav), beet chips, and a beet & black bean chocolate chip muffin that I make. YUM!

  8. I dont think I have ever seen beets at the grocery store but will look for them now. Maybe the beet smoothie is the way to start!

  9. My only experience with beets is when my Mother would serve them right out of the can when we were kids. I was not a fan. I think it was the texture more so than the taste. But, I wouldn’t be opposed to trying some of the recipes. I have not tried beet juice. They sure do enhance the color of food! Thanks for linking with us Sarah.

    1. They are less appetizing on their own right out of the can, although I could eat them every day like that. I think sneaking them into a recipe, initially, would be a good way to start!

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