Man drinking beet root powder shake for exercise performance

Beetroot Power for Physical Performance

To help maintain peak performance and an active lifestyle, look no further than the humble—yet powerful—beetroot. 

To explain why, first we need to define the root of athleticism. 😏 

Breaking Down Physical Performance 

What’s the fundamental building block of physical performance? Is it strength? Endurance? Recovery time?

They all have two things in common. Growing muscle tissue, enduring physical stress, and healing from injury all require oxygen and nutrients. Your body depends on your vascular system (heart and veins) to transport oxygen and nutrients from the lungs and intestines to everywhere else. The faster and easier blood travels through the body, the better your physical performance.

That said, let’s argue that athleticism is a simple function of how well your body transports oxygen and nutrients to your brain and muscles. 

To widen those veins—making it easier for blood to zip around—your body deploys nitric oxide (NO). Your body makes nitric oxide on your own with the help of some special enzymes called nitric oxide synthases (NOS). These enzymes convert L-arginine, an amino acid, and oxygen into nitric oxide. Ta-da!

While your body does create its own nitric oxide (it has to) you can also get it from food. One food, specifically. 

That’s right. Beets.

The Purple Blood-Pumping Power of Beets 

Beets, those purplish red roots (that we frankly might have just forgotten about if it weren’t for hit show The Office) are one of the highest sources of naturally occurring nitrates. There are a handful of dark, leafy greens—like kale—that are also high in nitrates. However, nitrates are kind of what beets are known for. 

But why? Why are beets so much more nitrate-rich than other foods? 

Beets Are Resourceful 

Nitrates are a usable form of nitrogen, which is a crucial element for plant growth and development. Beets get their nitrates from the ground. They’re especially good at absorbing and storing nitrates in their plant vacuoles. 

Beets Are Fighters 

Nitrates make beets hardy. Beets, like many plants, produce their own natural fungicides. These are antifungal compounds that can help prevent fungal spores from germinating and infecting the plant. Nitrates can be converted into nitrites, which can be toxic to some fungi that might try to infect the plant.

So how does that apply to you and your physical performance?

What Are Beet Gains

We’ve driven into the ground why and how beets win the nitrate challenge. Now let’s discuss how eating beets can help you, particularly with strength and endurance.

Improved Blood Flow and Oxygen Delivery

Max capacity at the gym (whether it’s strength or cardiovascular exercise) really comes down to blood flow. 

Like we’ve discussed, beets are rich in nitrates, which your body converts into nitric oxide (NO). NO plays a key role in relaxing and widening blood vessels. This improved blood flow allows for better delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles. More oxygen and nutrients means enhanced functioning. 

With more oxygen reaching your muscles, they can work more efficiently and generate energy for a longer duration before fatigue sets in. This translates to potentially improved performance in endurance activities like running, cycling, or swimming.

Reduced Oxygen Demand

Nitric oxide may also improve the function of mitochondria, the powerhouses within your muscle cells. More efficient mitochondria can utilize oxygen more effectively, potentially reducing the amount of oxygen your muscles require during exercise.

But that’s not all. By lowering the oxygen demand of your muscles, beets might help you maintain a faster pace for longer durations without burning through oxygen reserves as quickly. This can delay the onset of fatigue and allow you to perform at a higher intensity for a sustained period.

Muscle Power

Some studies suggest that nitrates can improve muscle contractility, leading to increased power output. This could be beneficial for athletes in sports requiring short bursts of power, like weightlifting or sprinting.

Incorporating Beet Root Into Your Pre-Workout Routine 

If you’re looking to leverage the benefits of beets, here are some strategies to get the most out of these earthy vegetables:

Optimizing Beet Intake for Performance

Yes, there’s a proper way to eat a beet. At least, if you want to get the full workout benefits. Here are some tips for getting the most out of beets.

Focus on Timing: Aim to consume beets or concentrated beet juice 2–3 hours before your workout. This allows enough time for your body to convert the nitrates in beets into nitric oxide.

Fresh vs. Pre-Cooked: While both fresh and pre-cooked beets offer nitrates, some studies suggest that fresh beets might have a slight edge in terms of nitrate content.

Juice vs. Whole Beets: Beet juice can be a convenient way to get a concentrated dose of nitrates. However, keep in mind that juicing also removes some fiber, which can be beneficial for digestion and overall health. Consider blending whole beets with water or a little fruit for a compromise between convenience and fiber content.

Incorporating Beets into Your Pre-Workout Routine

Powder: To help your body absorb as much beet power as possible, we recommend beet powder. Blend it in water or mix it with your pre-workout for blood-pumping benefits. Action Labs Natural Sport Beetroot Sport Powder is our favorite. 

Smoothies: Pre-workout smoothies are a great way to combine beets with other performance-boosting ingredients. Blend cooked or roasted beets with banana, berries, spinach, and your preferred milk or yogurt for a nutritious and energizing drink. 

Energy Bites: Make your own energy bites with shredded beets, rolled oats, nut butter, and dried fruit for a pre-workout snack packed with carbohydrates, healthy fats, and nitrates. And don’t forget, beetroot powder goes great in energy bites as well.

Nitrate Salad: Combine sliced beets with leafy greens like spinach or arugula, walnuts, and a light vinaigrette for a pre-workout salad that provides nitrates, vitamins, and healthy fats.

Capsules: Need a quick fix? You can try our favorite Action Labs Beetroot Sport Caps as a fast and easy addition to your normal pre-workout routine.


Surprised to find that beets are a shockingly powerful tool to elevate your athletic performance? 

It’s okay. We know beets don’t look like (or maybe taste like) much. But it’s true that their unique nitrate content translates to improved blood flow, oxygen delivery, and potentially even greater muscular efficiency. 

By strategically incorporating beets into your pre-workout routine, you can harness these earthy vegetables and push your physical performance to the next level. Next time you’re at the grocery store, don’t overlook the humble beet—it might just become your secret weapon for conquering your next workout.

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