Containing powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins that contribute to its distinctive reddish-purple flesh and skin, beetroot is a plant in the amaranth family whose root and leaves can be served raw, baked, steamed, pickled, or as a juice. Beetroot has been touted as a natural source of potentially performance-enhancing dietary nitrates, containing nearly 300 mg of those nitrates per 100 g (~4 oz) serving. Once ingested, dietary nitrates from beetroot are converted into nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide serves as a vasodilator, opening up the blood vessels to allow more blood and oxygen to be delivered to the muscles, thereby lowering the oxygen cost of exercise and making aerobic exercise less tiring for the athlete. The physiological effects of beetroot kick in 30 minutes post consumption with activity peaking after 90 minutes and staying elevated for approximately 6 hours. Overall health and performance benefits may last as long as 2 weeks post consumption. Athletes will benefit from reductions in the oxygen cost of exercise, improving endurance and tolerance to high-intensity training.

Scientists at the University of Exeter in England have published a series of well-designed studies evaluating the effects of a 500 mL (~16oz) dose of organic beetroot juice on overall performance in healthy men. The initial study, conducted in 2009, found that a 6-day supplementation protocol with beetroot juice extended cycle-to-exhaustion time by 92 seconds, representing a 2% decline in the time needed to cover a set distance, compared to a placebo control beverage of black currant juice. The same 6-day supplementation protocol helped reduce the oxygen consumption in trained runners during moderate- and high-intensity running, thereby extending their time to exhaustion by 15%.The research-supported dose for performance benefits is 500 mL (~16 oz) of juiced beetroot taken 2.5 hours before a short, high intensity period of exercise.

There have been a few reports of abdominal cramps,diarrhea, and a temporary and harmless purple coloring of the urine known as beeturia with use of beetroot.

How to make Beetroot Juice

Ingredients: To yield the recommended dose of 500 ml, eight small or four large beetroots will be needed.

Step 1: Clean the beetroots. Cut off green tops as needed. Scrub any dirt off the outside of the beets with a produce brush and rinse. Leave the skin intact for added nutrition.

Step 2: Cut the beetroots into halves or quarters and throw into a juicer. Because beetroots are a very hard vegetable, be sure to allow some time for juicing to occur.

Step 3:  Add other fruits and vegetables to adjust the flavor to desired taste.