Beetroot is not only known as a delicious component of many recipes, but studies are showing that consuming concentrated beetroot juice or powder may provide a whole host of health benefits, most notably improving exercise performance.
Though, you’d have to eat around 200g of beetroot to get the performance-enhancing benefits, which is why juices and powders are becoming increasingly popular among athletes and gym-goers.
Though, how do you take beetroot juice or powder? When is the best time to take it pre-workout? How long does it take to work?
All questions answered in this short guide!
Beetroot: A Brief Introduction
Beetroot, or “beets” is the dark red root vegetable and a regular staple in many recipes, from soups to salads.
This highly nutrient-dense vegetable is packed with fiber, vitamin C, folate, potassium, iron, and dietary nitrates, which all contribute to a whole host of important bodily functions and overall health.
Some examples being tissue and cell function, heart health, improved blood flow, immune function, and, most notably, increased exercise performance.
The high content of dietary nitrates in beetroot has been shown to be the main contributor to many of the proposed health benefits of beetroot, particularly improving exercise performance.
The Health Benefits of Beetroot
Research has shown that diets rich in nitrates may have positive health benefits, such as:
Low Calorie, Nutrient-Dense
The number one health benefit of beetroot is that you could eat much of it for little calories but pack a whole bunch of nutrients.
100g of beetroot has just 44 calories, and is packed with protein, fiber, vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, and many more. All these nutrients are essential for everyday bodily function and maintaining good health.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Some studies have shown that beetroot can lower blood pressure due to the dietary nitrate content.1
Dietary nitrates are converted to nitric oxide in the body, which acts as a vasodilator (widens the blood vessels), thus causing blood pressure to drop.
The mechanism behind this is fairly well-understood—nitric oxide travels through our artery walls and sends signals to the muscle cells around the arteries telling them to relax.
This causes them to widen, which may lead to reduced blood pressure and reduced risk of heart attacks, heart failure, and stroke.
Beetroot contains pigments called betalains, which are thought to possibly hold a number of anti-inflammatory properties.
While the research is still young in the area, there have been some studies that have shown beetroot extract to have an anti-inflammatory effect (specifically reducing pain and discomfort) in individuals suffering from osteoarthritis.2
May Improve Digestion
Fiber is a key component of a healthy diet, which beetroot happens to be high in!
With beetroot being classed as a high fiber source, it can help promote healthy digestion, keeping you regular, and helping to prevent digestive conditions such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
There are many more potential health benefits to consuming beetroot extract and other foods rich in dietary nitrates, but we now want to focus on beetroot extract as a pre-workout and how best to take it for optimal results!
Beetroot: An Effective Pre-Workout?
So, how does beetroot help improve exercise performance?
Much research has shown that consumption of beetroot juice can offer many performance-enhancing benefits, such as:3
- Reducing the O2 cost of exercise, which leads to improvements in muscle efficiency and exercise economy. This is the key mechanism involved in helping to improve endurance performance.
- Enhancing muscle contractile function, thus improving muscle power. This would help improve sprint exercise performance, which would prove useful for team sports, for example.
Beetroot may also have potential ergogenic effects, particularly for the recreational athlete population. This is mostly associated with the fact that the nitric oxide that the beetroot provides can have a vasodilation effect, thus causing a “muscle pump” sensation among resistance training individuals.
See more about "Beetroot for Pump: Benefits of Beetroot Powder for Bodybuilding" in our linked guide!
Additionally, beets have been shown to improve higher rep sets, potentially translating to improved hypertrophy (muscle growth).4
Thus, the research behind beetroot for improving endurance performance and muscle power is robust, and the research for beetroot being beneficial for weightlifters and bodybuilders is very promising, but yet to be fully concluded.
Beetroot Dosage: How Long Does It Take to Work?
Research suggests that a dose of 5.0-8.5 mmol of nitric oxide is required to improve exercise economy, though more may be necessary to get the full performance-enhancing benefits.
This is equivalent to 310-525 mg of dietary nitrates or two shots of concentrated beetroot juice.
It’s commonly recommended to consume concentrated beetroot juice 2-3 hours before a workout to get the full effects during your session, though this may differ between people.
Many factors may affect how long it takes to see the effects of ingesting beetroot, such as mealtimes, training times, digestion, training experience, and hydration levels. This is why it’s important to trial and test your supplements during training to gauge what works for you personally!
When consuming beetroot powder in the form of a pre-workout, such as Pre Lab Pro, the guidelines may be different. It’s often recommended to consume pre-workout about 30 minutes before you begin your workout.
While there is much research to support the consumption of beetroot juice or powder pre-workout, it’s always best to take it in the most effective and concentrated form alongside other ingredients that work to boost performance and recovery.
Pre Lab Pro is an elite example of just that—a pre-workout formula that includes the most concentrated, potent form of beetroot extract, Rednite.
Alongside many other ingredients, including L-citrulline, caffeine, L-theanine, and L-tyrosine, Pre Lab Pro effectively boosts blood flow to the muscles, supporting energy, focus, and intensity, kick-starting the post-workout recovery, while overall maximizing performance and recovery.
- Lundberg JO, Govoni M. Inorganic nitrate is a possible source for systemic generation of nitric oxide. Free Radic Biol Med. 2004 Aug 1;37(3):395-400
- Pietrzkowski Z, Argumedo R, Shu C, Nemzer B, Wybraniec S, Reyes-Izquierdo T. Betalain-rich red beet concentrate improves reduced knee discomfort and joint function: a double blind, placebo-controlled pilot clinical study. Nutrition and Dietary Supplements. 2014;6:9-13
- Jones, A. M., Thompson, C., Wylie, L. J., & Vanhatalo, A. (2018). Dietary nitrate and physical performance. Annual review of nutrition, 38, 303-328.
- Mosher SL, Sparks SA, Williams EL, Bentley DJ, Mc Naughton LR. Ingestion of a Nitric Oxide Enhancing Supplement Improves Resistance Exercise Performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2016 Dec;30(12):3520-3524.