Disclaimer: In 2017, I was sent a package of Red Ace Organic Beet Juice in exchange for a fair review. Since then, I’ve used and repeatedly tested this product. All opinions expressed are my own. This post has been updated to reflect my experience with Red Ace over the past couple years and to reflect the most recent research in beet juice supplementation.
Beet juice is one of those trendy foods in the world of sports nutrition. Some of the trends aren’t back by legitimate scientific research, while other foods actually became trendy due to findings in the scientific community. Much like turmeric and tart cherry juice, there’s actually a convincing amount of scientific research on how beet juice affects athletic performance in endurance athletes.
Can Beet Juice Improve Your Running?
Beets contain inorganic nitrates, which your body converts into nitric acid. This nitric acid affects numerous biological processes, including blood pressure and oxygen consumption. The beet juice trend began in 2009, when the University of Exeter released a study concluding that beet juice improved stamina and endurance by reducing oxygen uptake. The study also concluded that beet juice lowered blood pressure. Since then, beetroot juice has gained popularity amongst runners, triathletes, and other endurance athletes as a natural ergogenic aid.
Subsequent studies, such as a 2014 study conducted at the University of Cagliari, provide further scientific evidence to the claim that beet juice lowers the oxygen demands of exercise. For runners, this means that beet juice may help you run faster at the same effort level.
According to a 2016 study in the Journal of Exercise Nutrition and Biochemistry, your current level of fitness impacts the effect that beet juice has on your performance, at least when running at submaximal intensity. In the study, participants with a lower level of fitness used less oxygen in their time trials after consuming an inorganic nitrate supplement compared to the placebo. The highly trained athletes in the study did not experience as much difference between the supplement and the placebo.
A 2017 study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that beetroot juice actually is most beneficial in short, primarily anaerobic time trials rather than longer, primarily aerobic distances. The study found that beet juice supplementation enhanced performance at 1500m time trials but not 10K time trials. The study concluded that beet juice serves best as an ergogenic aid for high-intensity efforts.
In 2019, Nitric Oxide released an interesting study that examined beet juice supplementation in highly trained cyclists. The study hypothesized that well-trained endurance athletes needed higher doses of beet juice to see the same effects as previous studies demonstrated in recreationally active athletes. The conclusion? Chronic beet juice supplementation (two shots of concentrated beet juice per day over seven days) did improve time trial performance. (A similar study in 2017 performed on soccer players found that six days of supplementation resulted in more distance covered at a lower heart rate.)
A caveat: Do not use mouthwash or toothpaste before consuming beet juice. This may hinder the conversation of nitrates into nitric acid and decrease the effects. Also know that consumption of beets and beet juice may lead to beeturia, which is when your urine turns pink. If you supplement beet juice for several days, you will likely experience this. This is harmless but disconcerting if you don’t anticipate it.
My Experience with Beet Juice Supplementation
As a certified running coach, my approach to sport nutrition supplements is this: if they are legal and there are no harmful side effects, they experiment with them as you wish. You may see the benefits of beet juice on your endurance and race performance. However, not drinking beet juice will not be detrimental to your running and race performances, nor can you rely on beet juice on race day as a replacement for poor training. Sport nutrition supplements are exactly what the name suggests – they supplement your training and nutrition, not replace it.
I used Red Ace Organic Beet Juice (the performance supplement) for multiple races over the years of 2017 and 2018. I trained hard for each of these races and diligent about other aspects of my nutrition. On race day, I supplemented with one shot of beet juice. This is what I experienced:
Snohomish Women’s Run 10K (2017): This race might have been where I felt the biggest boost from beet juice supplementation. My goal was to run a sub-45 minute 10K, which my training suggested this was a realistic goal. My finish time was 43:53 minute. I ran even splits through the first five miles and only slowed down by ~10 seconds in the final mile. I held off fatigue at a faster pace for longer than I anticipated.
California International Marathon (2017): We all have races that simply aren’t our days – and this was one for me. I had GI cramping (unrelated to beet juice) and some pelvic pain. Despite that, I ran nearly even split (1:44 for the first half, 1:45 for the second half). I ran a PR by almost 2 minutes. Beet juice certainly was not the primary factor; I was well-trained and refused to give up despite not feeling great. However, it certainly did not hurt.
Snohomish Women’s Run Half Marathon (2018): Based on my training, I knew I was within the range of a 1:34-1:36 half marathon. I raced a 1:34:57. I ran slightly negative splits on race day and held onto race pace surprisingly well over the final 5K.
Conclusion: Beet juice never gave me superhuman powers on race day. However, it seemed to help me fully express my training into a strong race day performance. I did not experience any GI upset from it.
Red Ace Organics Review
As with any supplement, you want to ensure you are consuming the real thing. Since supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, there is a risk of artificial ingredients being added or low-quality ingredients being used.
If you are going to use sports nutrition supplements, you want to choose a company that uses natural and organic ingredients – such as Red Ace. None of their juices contain added sugar or added preservatives. Since they use organic ingredients, you know you are receiving a high-quality supplement.
However, products that are organic must be verified by the USDA. Red Ace offers beet juice shots for performance, recovery, and health that are USDA Organic certified and Non-GMO verified so that you know you are consuming high-quality ingredients. Red Ace makes beet juice shots from organic beets. Since 2011, they have worked with the same organic beet farm in California to ensure sustainability and a high-quality product.
Red Ace organic beet juice shots simplify the supplementation of beet juice for performance, recovery, and overall health. Who has time to juice three beets before a hard workout? Each juice shot is 2 fluid ounces, which means you can easily down one before or after a run. Since there’s not much volume, you don’t have to worry about the feeling of a sloshy stomach while running.
The Organic Beet Performance Supplement, which contains the juice of three beets filtered water, and lemon juice, tastes sweet and slightly earthy. The performance shot is intended for pre-workout consumption and is what I used for racing.
The juice shots are a bit pricey ($60 for 12). However, high-quality and sustainable organic foods have a price. When you consider that there are 3 organic beets in each shot plus the labor involved, the price makes sense. You can also purchase their product at Whole Foods, Thrive Market, and similar retailers.
If you want to try beet juice supplements in your training, I highly recommend Red Ace. Their customer service is impressive and I received my product quickly after ordering. Since my initial experience in working with Red Ace in 2017, I continued to purchase their products for several races. I plan to use their performance supplement for future races as well.
Have you tried beet juice before? Did it aid your running?
What sports nutrition supplements do you use?