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Beets Benefits for Runners + 15 Beet Recipes

As a Registered Dietitian, I love talking about the benefits of beets for everyone. Not only are they beautiful root vegetables, but they pack a punch of nutrition!

Specifically, the beets benefits for runners can’t be beaten. Beets are such a powerhouse for endurance athletes and hopefully, this post will nudge you to eat more of them!

Barley salad with squash, beets, arugula and goat cheese on outdoor table with serving spoons | Bucket List Tummy

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Beets Nutrition Facts

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 vegan 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. 

Here are some nutrition facts related to beets.

  • Beets belong to the same Chenopod family, as well as quinoa, spinach and chard.
  • Beets can be consumed in many ways, such as baked, roasted, grilled, pickled, and even juiced into beetroot juice!
  • 1 cup of beets provides about 3 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and just 75 calories
  • Beetroot is high in micronutrients, like folate, iron, manganese, copper, potassium, and B Vitamins.
  • 1 cup of beets gives you almost 10% of your iron needs. But try to pair it with Vitamin C, like citrus or peppers, to enhance its absorption! 
  • Because of their impact on vasodilation, beets are known to help improve blood pressure. They may also impact other cardio-metabolic measures, like heart health.
  • The dietary nitrates in beets is what leads to the vasodilation (allowing the blood vessels to dilate and relax so blood better passes through).
  • Beets offer the potential to increase the efficiency of mitochondria in supplying energy in and to your cells, which becomes important during endurance exercise.
  • 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. 

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.

 

Beets Benefits for Runners

Here are some of the beetroot benefits for runners.

Beets have these awesome phytonutrients called betalains, which have antioxidant properties. This means they can 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.

running during second trimester of pregnancy | Bucket List Tummy

Basically, we need less energy to perform the same amount of exercise (Source and Source). This is also the case for proper dosage of 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 the 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. 

white bowl with farro, arugula, goat cheese, sweet potatoes and diced beets on table

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

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 beautiful 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

Beetroot-Risotto-1

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!)

veggie sandwich with beets, goat cheese, tomato and sprouts

Berry Beet Smoothie Via Emilie Eats

berry beet smoothie

Roasted Beet White Bean Dip Via Pumpkin and Peanut Butter

beet white bean dip

Almond Butter Beet Salad Via Fooduzzi

Root Vegetable Hash Via Passports and Pancakes

why runners should eat more beets

Beetballs Via Clean Green Simple

beetballs

Chocolate Beetroot Doughnuts Via Vegan Insanity 

Chocolate-Beet-Doughnuts-Vegan

Vegan Antioxidant Power Bowl 

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?

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  1. 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!

  2. 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 🙂

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. So I’ve had literally one bit of pickled beets one time. They’re not bad, I just don’t see them in stores often, nor do I seek them out at farmers markets. Have to say, I think that smoothie looks delicious, as does that white bean dip & root veggie hash. I love hashes. I tried parsnips for the first time last week & made a hash with them too.

  7. That pasta looks so cool! I put beets in so many things – red velvet stuff like pancakes and waffles, greek yogurt bowls, and – my favorite – chocolate-beet protein shakes post-workout.

  8. Loved reading about all the health benefits of beets! I’ve been making them a lot more recently and it’s been so fun experimenting with new ways to use them! Thanks so much for sharing my Roasted Beet White Bean Dip!

  9. I guess I need to try some beets, I think the only beets I ever saw as a kid were the picked ones on Christmas.
    Sound like they will be just what we need. Thank you for the post, and recipies.

  10. I’ve just started getting into Beets using BeetBoost. There are so many great benefits to using beets. I’m going to have to check out some of those recipes. They all look good!

  11. I LOVE beets I just hate preparing them since they seem to stain everything. I order something with beets any time I go out to eat though (hello lazy). That beet tart with the goat cheese looks incredible yummm!

  12. I do like beets! Especially in a salad with dark leafy greens and goat cheese. Most of my beet experience is with canned beets, which honestly I love. Maybe this summer I will brave roasted beets at home!

  13. Beets are one of the only foods I am still “ehh” about, and it is very rare I am “eh” about a food, haha! Granted, I haven’t tried a beet in YEARS, but my mom would always make this beet/black bean/corn salad growing up and the canned beets would always skeeve me out. I am not knocking them at all though- I will have to try them again soon! The health benefits are definitely a convincing factor!

  14. YES! I never, ever ate beets growing up out of fear. Or maybe it was because my parents didn’t like them so they never had space on our dinner table. However now, I love how nutritious beets are and if you don’t really like the flavor, you can hide them in nearly everything – including sweet! 🙂

  15. I am such a huge fan of beets. And now that I’m training for a half, I’m definitely going to start eating them more often. My favorite way is in a smoothie with strawberries and vanilla protein powder!

  16. Love love love beets. Though it’s true, their rusticness at the grocery store is easy to be intimidating. I always forget how truly simple they are to prepare until each time I do. And all these amazing health benefits aside – they are just plain beautiful! Basically pinning all of these recipes. Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge!