Runners are always on the lookout for something that will give them an edge in their performance. While there's no replacement for consistent hard work, studies have shown that including beets in your diet can enhance the results of your hard work in training.
To put it simply (because that's the only way I understand it:), beets contain nitrates, which help to increase nitric oxide in the blood stream. This results in the following natural performance enhancing effects:
Increased blood flow
Better mitochondrial production and efficiency (read: more energy for running faster and longer)
Increased gas exchange in the cells (higher performance on less oxygen)
Stronger muscle contractions
Better blood vessel dilation (More oxygen to the cells? Yes please!)
Research shows that you should eat (or drink) your beets within a couple of hours of exercise to get the benefits these powerful roots boast. It's also important to note that consistency counts, so try to add some beets to your diet most days. Convinced that you need more beets in your life? Good.
But what if you don't like beets? Don't worry, I've got you.
Here are my five favorite ways to get the good stuff down and make it taste good, too.
1. Can't Beet Me Smoothie
This smoothie recipe, from Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky's Run Fast Eat Slowbook, blends the beets right into a delicious drink that not only looks gorgeous, but hides any hint of the beet flavor. The recipe is great, but know that you can blend beets into most smoothie recipes to get the performance benefits they're famous for.
2. Mash Beets into Oatmeal
If you're a runner, you're probably downing oatmeal before some of your runs already, so why not mash up some cooked beets into your bowl?Here's a recipe to get you started, but, just like with smoothies, you can change it up however you like!
3. Don't Get Beet Hummus
Shalane and Elyse know the benefits of beets so they blended them into a creamy hummus recipe, creating an eye-pleasing and mouth-watering spread that hides the flavor of the beets while showcasing their vibrancy. This is another fabulous recipe from their book,Run Fast Eat Slow. (Photo from related Daily Burn website linked above.)
4. Beet Juice
I know, I know. You're thinking, " I don't even like beets and now she wants me to drink the stuff!" But hear me out.
When beet juice is blended with other juices, what you get is a mixture that hides the beet flavor and will light up your taste buds in all the best ways.
You can make your own (if you don't mind your kitchen looking like a murder scene) or you can try Beetology juices. The only bad thing I have to say about these juices is that they're all so incredibly good that it's tough to choose which flavor to try first!
5. Beet Root Powder
Now this is the sneakiest way to get this powerhouse veggie into your system. You make make this yourself (I've tried and do not recommend but, hey, this is your kitchen we're talking about) or buy it ready to go. Either way, add it to every and anything you can to get all the amazing benefits of this super food.
Two other quick tips for getting your daily dose of beets:
Slice them up and add them to the pickle juice left after you've eaten all of your store bought pickles. Just a day or two in there and your beets will come out looking like rubies but tasting like pickles. Put them on sandwiches or add to salad and you'll never taste the difference!
You can also shred beets onto stir fries and salads to add some glamour and, more importantly, performance power to your meals!
So what are you waiting for? Go add some beautiful beets to your grocery cart, keep training consistently, and start seeing results that can't be beet!
Disclaimer: Beets can change the color of your urine and stool so don't be alarmed when you look in the toilet after you've eaten them!