Asset 19 angle-down-bold angle-left-bold angle-right-bold angle-up-bold Asset 10 certifications Asset 14 close-bold close Asset 8 Asset 12 menu Asset 18 Asset 17 Asset 6 Asset 16 Asset 9 Asset 15 Asset 11 Asset 13

Get answers to all your questions!

Things like:

How long is the program?
Is the program and exam online?
What makes ACE's program different?

Call (888) 825-3636 or Chat chat icon now!

November 2011

Boost Athletic Performance With a Big Gulp of Beetroot Juice?


By Natalie Digate Muth, M.D., M.P.H., R.D.

A group of U.K. researchers may have just tapped into the next big all-natural, performance-enhancing . . . vegetable? A research team led by Dr. Katherine Lansley and Dr. Andrew Jones at the University of Exeter has been conducting a series of experiments looking at the impact of beetroot juice on exercise performance. The results are impressive.

What's in a Beet?

Beetroot juice is the blended up, liquefied version of the beet. While the taste might take a little getting used to [for best results, most raw-food connoisseurs recommend a 4:1 dilution with the juice of other (preferably sweeter) vegetables and fruits], the juice from this vegetable is packed with a nutritional punch and a long list of health benefits including increased performance, decreased blood pressure and overall improved cardiovascular health (Lundberg et al., 2011). (Don’t be alarmed if, after eating beets or drinking beetroot juice, your urine turns pink.)

100g of raw beet
(approx. 1–2” diameter beet 
or 4 oz. of juice)
Calories 43


10 g
Sugars 7 g
Dietary fiber 3 g
Protein 2 g


0 g
Potassium 325 mg (7%)
Folate 27%

Vitamin B6

Vitamin C 6%
Iron 0.8 mg (6%)
Magnesium 23 mg (6%)


40 mg (6%)

Source: USDA Nutrient Database

In one study, researchers gave a group of competitive male cyclists either 16 ounces of beetroot juice or 16 ounces of a nitrate-free placebo beetroot juice about 2.5 hours before completing a 4 kilometer (2.5 miles) or a 16.1 kilometer (10 miles) timed trial. Two to three days later, each athlete completed the workout again, this time with a different drink–distance combination. In all, each of the athletes completed four trials with two to three days separating the workouts. Once the times were tallied, the researchers found that beetroot juice improved trial time by about 2 percent to 3 percent in both the short- (lasting about five minutes) and longer-distance (lasting about 30 minutes) trials when compared to the nitrate-free placebo (Lansley et al., 2011a).

The authors credit the nitrate in beetroot juice for the improved performance. The thinking is that the body converts inorganic nitrate (found in high levels in beets as well as most green leafy vegetables) into bioactive nitrite. (Blood nitrite levels more than doubled in the beetroot juice group compared to the placebo group in the study of cyclists.) The body converts the nitrite to nitric oxide, which is known to improve vasodilation and blood flow in vessels. This could provide a mechanism for decreased oxygen cost of exercise and thus increased athletic performance.

This research team also looked at the effects of beetroot juice on blood pressure; mitochondrial oxidative capacity, a marker of how efficiently and effectively the body converts food to fuel; and physiological responses such as how much oxygen is required to fuel walking and moderate- to high-intensity running and how long a participant could exercise before exhaustion. They found that participants who consumed the beetroot juice had lower blood pressures and experienced a lower oxygen cost of exercise. In fact, walkers had a significant 12 percent to 14 percent decrease in the amount of oxygen needed. The authors point out that this could have significant implications for improving exercise capacity in people who suffer from certain cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases. The participants also had decreased overall maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), but this was compensated for with an increased time to exhaustion (Lansley et al., 2011b).

While these studies have several limitations, including small sample size (only nine participants) and gender bias (no females were studied), the results are promising. While one can’t say with certainty that loading up on beets will set your clients up for a new personal best, the potential benefits seem to outweigh any known risks. Instead of passing by the crimson vegetable (and its green leafy cousins) at the grocery store, consider giving the nitrate-packed veggie and its juice a fresh try.

Lansley, K.E. et al. (2011a) Acute dietary nitrate supplementation improves cycling time trial performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 43, 6, 1125–1131.

Lansley, K.E. et al. (2011b) Dietary nitrate supplementation reduces the O2 cost of walking and running: a placebo-controlled study. Journal of Applied Physiology, 110, 3, 591–600.

Lundberg, J.O. et al. (2011). Roles of dietary inorganic nitrate in cardiovascular health and disease. Cardiovascular Research, 89, 3, 525–532.


digate muth

Natalie Digate Muth, M.D., M.P.H., R.D., is a pediatrics resident at UCLA Medical Center, a registered dietitian and a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise (ACE). She holds fitness certifications from ACE, the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. She’s also mom to two young children, Tommy (3) and Mariella (11 months).

Search This Issue
Keeping You Posted

Share Your Insights — Take the 2012 Fitness Trends Survey

Each year, we reach out to ACE-certified professionals with our Fitness Trends Survey to gain important insights into the fitness industry. Your trend predictions are important to us, and every year the results of the survey are picked up by broadcast, print and online media outlets all over the world. Please take a few moments to share your thoughts about what's next on the horizon.
Read More »

Nicole Nichols Named America’s Top Personal Trainer to Watch

The call by ACE and Life Fitness to discover America’s top personal trainer elicited hundreds of entries and many truly amazing stories. Ten finalists and one grand-prize winner were announced at Club Industry 2011, and honored as having gone above and beyond in demonstrating a growing commitment to fitness, helping clients achieve lasting lifestyle change and serving as leaders in their communities.
Read More »

How Can You Play a Critical Role in Fighting America's Obesity Epidemic?

ACE is thrilled that Joining Forces representative and member of the President's Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, Cornell McClellan, will be the featured speaker at the networking lunch during the ACE Fitness Symposium. Find out how—in the spirit of the Let’s Move! and Joining Forces campaigns—collaboration across all fitness and health industries is so critical to creating a healthier America.
Read More »

ACE Impact Report 2011

2011 proved to be a busy and rewarding year and we couldn’t have done it without your help! Initiatives designed to educate and motivate Americans to live healthier lifestyles—from Hershey’s Moderation Nation to Joining Forces—continue to reinforce ACE’s position as an industry bridge-builder and an organization dedicated to connecting you with individuals in your communities.
Read More »

Ace Certified News

ACE's Certified News is produced 12 times per year by the American Council on Exercise. No material may be reprinted without permission.

Publisher: Scott Goudeseune
Technical Editor: Cedric X. Bryant, Ph.D.
Editor In Chief: Christine J. Ekeroth
Art Director: Karen F. McGuire