Foods offer some of the best options available in terms of maximizing sports performance. With food, you know what you’re putting into your body every time. Foods can help with everything from providing energy for pre-workout to workout hydration to post-workout recovery to ensure you’re getting the most from every session. One of the best foods to help maximize sports performance is beets.
Dwight Schrute from The Office was truly onto something. Beets are a superhuman food, and the proven benefits it has on boosting athletic performance is quite astonishing. With its numerous health benefits, adding beets to your pre-workout meal will have you reaping the rewards.
- Calories: 58
- Sodium: 106mg
- Potassium: 442mg
- Carbs: 13g
- Sugars: 9.2g
- Vitamin C: 7% of your DV (daily value)
- Folate: 37% DV
- Manganese: 19% DV
- Vitamin B6: 7% DV
One of the main reasons beets and beet juice are heralded as a sport-enhancing powerhouse is the boost it can give you as a natural pre-workout supplement. The nitrates found in beets are converted to nitric oxide in your body. As a result, nitric oxide plays a huge role in increased blood flow, gas exchange, mitochondria biogenesis and efficiency, and muscle contraction. Improving these markers has a direct correlation to athletic improvement by boosting cardiovascular endurance. This ultimately helps to improve an individual’s VO2 max — the body’s maximum ability to use oxygen during exercise. VO2 max indicates an athlete’s body to be able to efficiently use oxygen, thus those that consume beets and beet juice can exercise longer and more efficiently.
As mentioned above, the effects of the nitrates found in beets can have a profound effect on sports performance. Those high levels of nitrates can have a direct effect on lowering blood pressure. By improving blood flow, it acts as a vasodilator (opens up blood vessels) to help blood flow more freely. This helps feed more oxygen to muscles during intense activity. As a result, it can help stave off different diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, hypertension, and others.
One of the main reasons fruits and veggies with dark pigmentations are always regarded as desired foods in a well-balanced diet is their ability in having antioxidant properties — and beets offer just that. Betalain is a water-soluble plant pigment that gives beets their naturally deep-red color. One of the properties that betalain has is its ability to be a potent antioxidant.
Working out places larger amounts of oxidative stress on your body, which increases bodily inflammation. Consuming things like antioxidants can help fight inflammation. Not only does it help fight inflammation, but chronic levels of inflammation have been shown to lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, hypertension, and more.
Beet Juice Recipe
As with most foods, cooking and preparing beets can negate some of the health benefits that it provides. We recommend taking whole beets and using a good high-quality blender to make a great pre-workout beet juice drink.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 1 serving (16 ounces)
- 1 whole beet, chopped
- ½ lemon, squeezed juice
- 1 ½ cups water
- Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
- Using a fine metal strainer or a metal coffee filter, strain the juice into a large glass.
- Consume 20-30 minutes before workout
As an alternative to supplements, beets are a great all-natural source for getting great health benefits that can truly take your athletic performance to the next level. They boost VO2 output, increase nitric oxide levels, help fight inflammation during post-workout recovery, and are relatively low in calories.
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