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Active Expert: Nancy Clark RD CSSD

2 Posts tagged with the beets tag

Could eating beets or beet juice before daily training help athlete strain harder and thereby enjoy better competitive outcomes?


Speaking at a international sports nutrition conference organized by PINES (Professionals in Nutrition for Exercise and Sport), AndyJones PhD of  Exeter University in the UK reported that consuming nitrate-rich beetroot juice boosts blood levels of the nitric oxide precursor, nitrite, and this helps reduce the amount of oxygen needed during constant-work-rate exercise.


Hence, for the same oxygen uptake, athletes who consume beetroot “shots” (concentrated beetroot juice) might be able to exercise at a higher intensity; for example, a runner might improve by 5 seconds per mile.  In general,athletes see about a 1.5% improvement in performance.

However, some athletes respond better to beetroot juice (and other nitrate-rich foods) than do others. Perhaps the initially “strong responders” tend to have a low intake of all nitrate-rich fruits and vegetables and as a result have a lower nitrite baseline?


To boost your nitrate intake, consume not only beets, but also strawberries, rhubarb, arugula, and spinach.

Note: Athletes who take beetroot juice should avoid using mouthwash. Mouthwash kills the bacteria in the mouth initiate the converion of nitrate into nitrite and then nitric oxide.

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Beets, rhubarb and arugala are nitrate-rich foods.Sports nutrition research indicates the natural nitrates they contain can significantly improve running performance when eaten three-hours in advance of exercise. The nitrates convert into nitric oxide, a gaseous signaling molecule that acts as a critical biological messenger. Nitric oxide dilates blood vessels, lowers blood pressure, reduces platelet stickiness, and allows a person to exercise at a submaximal pace using less oxygen. This info is helpful for not only athletes but for unhealthy people with lung and circulation problems.


This nitrate-rich recipe is one of many tasty suggestions from the website of food-lover Eileen Behan RD


6 small red beets (12 ounces, raw or cooked), peeled and sliced very thin

1/2 large pink grapefruit, juiced

1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil


8 ripe strawberries

1/2 lemon
, juiced

1 tbsp olive oil


1-cup chopped
 (1 stalk) rhubarb


4 cups arugula, washed and dried


1. In a medium bowl, toss beet slices (either raw or cooked) with the juice and zest of the grapefruit-half, vinegar, pinch of salt and 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Marinate, at least 15 minutes to 4 hours.


2. Cut the strawberries into quarters. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, and juice from the lemon.


3. Prepare the rhubarb sauce: in a food processor, pulse rhubarb with 2 tbsp water and puree until smooth.


Just before serving, strain the marinated beets. Toss beets with the strawberries. Arrange the greens on a platter and top with the beets and strawberries. Put a dollop of rhubarb purée in the center. Optional: drizzle with a little olive oil.

Serves four. Calories per serving: 140



For other sports recipes: Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook

2,555 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: nancy_clark, nitrates, beets, for_the_love_of_food, eileen_behan, beet_arugala_rhubarb_salad, nitric_oxide

Nancy Clark RD CSSD

Nancy Clark RD CSSD

Member since: Jul 8, 2007

Hi! I specialize in nutrition for exercise, and help active people figure out how to manage food, weight, exercise, energy and enjoyment of eating. Let me know if you have any questions!

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