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.
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.
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.
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
Beet Brownies via A Traveling Wife
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
Chocolate Chip Beet Bagels Via Beets Not Meats
Almond Butter Beet Salad Via Fooduzzi
Red Velvet Pancakes via That Girl Shannon
Root Vegetable Hash Via Passports and Pancakes
Chocolate Beetroot Doughnuts Via Vegan Insanity
Vegan Antioxidant Power Bowl via Bucket List Tummy
Beet, Goat Cheese and Honey Tart Via How Sweet It Is
Beet Lemonade via Foodie Crush
Or, how about Beet Pasta via A Beautiful Mess
What’s your favorite way to incorporate beets?
Runners, do you drink beet juice?