A couple months ago, the hubs and I traveled to Nashville to visit friends and cheer them on in a half marathon. I’ve been to races before and I used to run cross country in high school, but this was my first time watching a marathon/half marathon. Seeing the runners go by, all different ages and sizes, some amputees, one blind, some with looks of pure joy and others looking absolutely miserable, it left me feeling deeply inspired. So much so that I committed to my friends, family and the entirety of the internet to run an half marathon next year.
As someone who hasn't run more than 3 miles since high school, this is either an incredibly powerful, exciting and inspiring commitment that will show me what I’m really made of….or a totally boneheaded move. Only time will tell.
Either way, this yoga/barre devotee has been out running on the regular. I’m also trying to eat more like a runner, prepping plenty of preworkout snacks (like my chocolate-hazelnut chia bars), upping my protein intake a smidge, and including lots of endurance boosting foods, like beets!
Beets are one of the best sources of naturally occuring nitrate, a substance that’s converted into nitric oxide in our body. Nitric oxide has many effects, including roles in neurotransmission, muscle contraction and increasing blood flow by dilating blood vessels, a process called vasodilation.
Many studies have been done to see how beets can help you make the most of your workout. One study found beets increased tolerance to high intensity exercise. Beets also increase blood flow to muscles, making it easier to produce ATP, or energy. One small study looked specifically at running and found eating beets can actually help you run 3% faster, up to 5% faster in the last mile (let's see if I make it that far!). For maximum benefit, eat beets 2-3 hours before exercising, but no more than 12 hours.
Not much of an athlete? There are other benefits to beets! We’ve all heard that brightly colored veggies are best for us, and what’s more richly hued than beets? The red pigment comes from a substance called betalains, which has a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect and aids the body's natural detoxification system. The nitrate in beets lowers blood pressure (it “beets” hypertension! Ha!). They're also an excellent source of folate and contain a hefty dose of potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and copper.
Now, on to this smoothie. I know you may be a little terrified at the prospect of putting raw beet into your smoothie, even if it creates this totally gorgeous hot pink concoction, but I promise, you’ll barely taste it. If you REALLY hate the taste of beets, add a couple dates to sweeten it up, a bit, a dash of lemon juice, and any residual beet flavor will be gone. Bonus benefit –this smoothie also contains cocoa powder, another endurance enhancing food!
Power up your smoothie with the addition of beets in this Red Velvet Smoothie Recipe! Tweet this
Red Velvet Smoothie
- 1 small frozen banana, cut into chunks
- 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
- 1/2 medium beet peeled and grated
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 dates (optional)
- Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until pureed.