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Beet Juice for Runners – Magic? or Voodoo?

by Carilyn on August 16, 2012


See, it’s empty. I drank it all. Yes, it took me a week, but i did it!

Because y’all know I like to eat, (And eat. And eat.), I rarely take any type of supplements. I figure that, as many calories as I pack away, I should be getting most of what I need. (And no, the majority of my calories are NOT from cupcakes!)  Over the past few years, however, I kept coming across articles on the benefits of beet juice. Initially, I just skipped over anything I saw with the word “beet” in it, because let’s be honest, beets have to be about the least sexy vegetable on the planet.  But those pesky roots became difficult to ignore when EVERY time I opened a magazine, or turned on the television, I saw something about them. I felt like those creepy, bulbous little guys were stalking me.

Never one to be intimidated by a root vegetable, I decided to figure out what all the fuss was about. I started reading anything I could get my hands on, and then finally bit the bullet and bought a bottle of the juice. I have to admit, I am a fan. While many of the studies say that beet juice can really make a difference for endurance athletes, at the very least, it seems that beet juice is a pretty darn healthy addition to you diet.

Most studies had participants consume 16 oz of juice per day.  That seems like a lot to me, but if you decide to add it to your day, do a little research and see how much you think is best for you. It’s important to note that you CAN DRINK TOO MUCH. The little dudes are not without side effects. It’s also important to note that it is best to mix the juice with other juices, not only to mask the taste, but to minimize those side effects.

Now, because I rarely do product reviews, I’m not going to follow the standard format of listing the benefits and then the drawbacks. I figure if you read the negatives of beet juice and still want to try it for yourself, then you will be interested in the benefits. If, however, the negatives gross you out, or make you think, “No way am I trying that dreck!” then you will save yourself the trouble of reading why beet juice is good for you.

Negatives of Beet Juice:

1. Go outside to your nearest flower bed, bend down, and take a big lick of dirt. That is what beet juice tastes like. If you can take that, you can take the taste of beet juice.

2. It’s expensive. That 16 oz bottle I bought (above) was $6.99. If you’re supposed to drink a whole bottle every day, you will definitely have to give up your Starbuck’s run. And a cupcake. And maybe a gallon of gas.

3. It will make you….regular. Now, while this may be a good thing, be careful to build up to the full amount. You don’t want to be out on a run and end up with the runs. This is powerful stuff.

4. It can turn your pee and poop red. Like, “Ack! Take me to the ER! I’m dying!” – kind of red. Hint: men, don’t pee in a public urinal.

5. It can be hard on your kidneys and liver. Don’t overdo this stuff. Just because it’s a juice does not mean it doesn’t have powerful mojo.

If you’re still reading, and think you are tough enough to drink juice that tastes like dirt, here are some of the benefits.

Benefits of Beet Juice:

1. It lowers blood pressure. Enough said, unless you already have low blood pressure. If you do, beet juice is not for you.

2. It increases endurance athletes’ oxygen uptake and efficiency. This is why so many elite athletes drink it. There are very few LEGAL things that increase oxygen uptake.

3. It wards of dementia (and possibly Alzheimers). I don’t know about you, but if there is a way to keep me from going senile that doesn’t involve playing Soduku or doing crossword puzzles, I’m all in.

4. It helps detoxify the body.

5. It makes you regular (see #3 above).

I will keep on drinking beet juice for now and report back on my progress. I’m adjusting to the taste (sort of), and experimenting mixing it with different juices to find the best match.  I’m thinking my best bet may just be a Beet Juice Cupcake!


Happy Running!




{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie Horn August 16, 2012 at 11:19 am

Do beets work too, not just the juice? I love beets, my favorite veggie. I have tons planted in the garden. But yes, Negative No. 4 can make you think that you are dying….

Carilyn August 16, 2012 at 1:37 pm

I think plain beets work, too, but I bet you have to eat a ton of them to equal 16 oz. of juice – ick!

Scott Koepp August 16, 2012 at 2:22 pm

I’ve been eating canned beets for about 6 weeks and pretty happy with the results, although hard to measure. Don’t know if it’s just the placebo effect. Worth a try for me, because I have borderline high blood-pressure and have been self-testing at the Pharmacy ‘chair’ since taking beets and doing pretty well! Would prefer fresh beets, but too expensive at my store. I eat about 1/4 can about 30 min. b4 running, and slurp a little of the ‘juice’ from the can. It’s supposed to increase the length of time you can run at a hard effort, if I remember correctly.

Carilyn August 16, 2012 at 2:47 pm

That’s great, Scott! I will be interested to see how they work long term. Please keep me posted.

Kate August 16, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Hmmm. Interesting, but the taste/cost things are a big negative for me. And I don’t need anything to add to my running stomach issues! I think I’ll just wait and see what you think longer term. Thanks for being my personal guinea pig. 🙂

Carilyn August 16, 2012 at 6:27 pm

I will keep testing it for you, Kate! 🙂

Marcia August 16, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Hmmm….better oxygen uptake? You have my attention. My hubby gets into all kinds of weird food stuff. He was drinking beet juice awhile ago but I don’t think he could stand it, he’s into cherry juice now. I’ve got beets growing in the garden. I like to pickle them. They are very earthy.

Char August 16, 2012 at 7:43 pm

I read an article on that (Runner’s World I think) so I’ve bought some to give it a go. I had some before my long run last Saturday and the run went okay so I’ll count that as a success. How scientific am I?!! I might try giving it another go so I have a bigger sample than one to base my conclusions on. And no I didn’t drink enough to turn anything red.

pensive pumpkin August 16, 2012 at 10:44 pm

I happen to belong to a family that grows beets, so this is interesting to me. I’ve never heard of a beet juice craze, but I am in. Especially since I think my blood pressure meds make running more difficult than it needs to be. Hmmm.

It’s awesome that you can make me laugh and make me think and make me feel all proud of myself whenever you talk to me through the magical internet machine. I like you.

Carilyn August 17, 2012 at 4:08 am

Cherry juice is good, too, Marcia. Great for inflammation.

Carilyn August 17, 2012 at 4:08 am

Let me know what you think, Char. Now we can be an experiment of two!

Carilyn August 17, 2012 at 4:10 am

I hope it works for you, PP. and thank you for reading and commenting. I love your blog, so I’m flattered you enjoy mine. I know how funny you are, so it’s a huge compliment that you like my blog!

SteveQ August 17, 2012 at 8:24 am

In your list of benefits:
1) Maybe, a little.
2) No, it doesn’t.
3) No, it doesn’t.
4) That doesn’t even MEAN anything!
5) Yep, it’ll do that.

The “research” you’re using is really questionable.

Carilyn August 17, 2012 at 8:44 am

Sorry you didn’t like the post, Steve.

Kirstin C (@ultrarunnergirl) August 17, 2012 at 11:49 am

I finally worked up the courage to try beets again a couple of years ago and I TOTALLY love them! I roast mine, they don’t even need salt — can’t beat that!
Thanks for reminding me that I haven’t had them in awhile with all these summer veggies.

Doug W August 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm


Glad you gave beet juice a try. We have some big news coming out very soon for the endurance athlete. My only input is from the studies we have a person only needs 8oz a day. Citrus is a good mix but make sure its at least 8oz of pure beet root juice if you don’t care for the straight beet flavor.

Be well

Carilyn August 17, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I should probably give them a try in other forms rather than just the juice – maybe they would taste better! I will give roasting a try. Thanks for the suggestion, Kirsten!

Carilyn August 17, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Thanks for stopping by, Doug!

Arun August 17, 2012 at 3:36 pm

What do you mean by “it can be hard on your kidneys and liver”? Can it be dangerous? What have you heard about this specifically?

I will definitely look into this, but I guess I should talk to my doc.

Carilyn August 17, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Supposedly, when it cleans your system, it dumps a lot of minerals, etc. into your kidneys and liver. This can be dangerous if it happens too quickly. It’s always a good idea to ask your doctor. That is why I’m testing it right now.

Anne August 18, 2012 at 5:23 am

You lost me at “tastes like dirt” and makes you poop red. However, it’s good to know there’s another option next time I undergo a detox diet. And I love raw beets.

Carilyn August 18, 2012 at 12:28 pm

I thought I might lose a few people with the dirt part, but no point in hiding the ball 🙂 I am definitely going to try grilling some fresh beets and hope for a different taste.

Jeff Dinkin August 19, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Nice post Carilyn! I am a big proponent of Beet Juice and buy the beets in bulk (25 pounds at at time) and make my own juice (mixed with carrots, apples and a little bit of ginger). About 5 pounds of beets makes half gallon of juice which lasts me 8 to 10 days. I’ve seen the results athletically, and I like them…..

For SteveQ (and anyone else interested) –

Jeff Dinkin August 19, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Also, when I travel, I have an alternative that works nicely and is also quite effective. It seems a bit expensive, but it actually lasts a while (20 servings).

Carilyn August 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Thanks for the great info, Jeff! I will check it out. I’m still experimenting, but I will keep you posted.

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