Will consuming beetroot juice make me run faster?

Dr Brea Kunstler – Physiotherapist and behavioural scientist, Performance Medicine

Beetroot can be delicious in a salad or a burger and has been reported on popular websites to have numerous health benefits from lowering blood pressure to improving digestive health1, but can it make you run faster? It depends on how much you consume!

The background behind beetroot:

Firstly, let’s explore what’s in beetroot juice that may contribute to faster running. Beetroot is full of nitrates, which is converted in the body to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide dilutes blood vessels, allowing more oxygen to reach muscles, which allows them to create more energy for performance. More energy = better performance2. Makes sense.

Two recent systematic reviews (the highest level of evidence we have) support the ability for nitrate supplementation to enhance performance3,4. One review reported nitrate supplementation was attributed to a 25.3 second improvement in time to exhaustion, meaning the participants got tired 25 seconds slower. These findings were mainly seen in recreational athletes and males. This is not to say that nitrate supplementation, or eating beetroot, won’t also help other populations. Unfortunately, these reviews cannot provide clear conclusions for women5 and elite athletes simply because there’s insufficient evidence in these populations. 

Beetroot juice can be helpful for more than just running. Athletes participating in other endurance events like cycling and high-intensity team sports with sprint efforts (e.g basketball) can also benefit6. But you need to make sure you’re doing the right activity. It seems like it’s short exercise bouts that benefit the most (e.g. running or cycling bouts of less than 30 minutes and activities requiring sprint efforts).

But can you get enough beetroot juice from your fish ‘n’ chip shop burger to really see a performance improvement? Probably not. To see benefits, the nitrate item (leafy vegetables have nitrate too!) you must have at least 350-600mg of nitrate in it, be it as the food itself, powder or juice2. You would have to consume about 200g of beetroot to get that amount of nitrate. And, importantly, this needs to be consumed 2-3 hours before your endurance event. Not an easy thing to do if your competition is in the morning.

Takeaway thoughts:

So should you eat 200g of beetroot 2-3 hours before your run to get tired 25 seconds later than usual? I can’t say I’d bother but if you love beetroot, or other nitrate-containing foods, and are either happy to be up at 3am eating it before your morning run or are happy to have it as part of a yummy lunch then go for it! Just watch out for the red pee and poo…


  1. Lewin Jo. (2021). Top 5 health benefits of beetroot. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-beetroot
  2. Mantzioris Evangeline. (2023). Can beetroot really improve athletic performance? https://theconversation.com/can-beetroot-really-improve-athletic-performance-193221
  3. Senefeld JW., Wiggins CC., Regimbal RJ, Dominelli PB., Baker SE., Jouner MJ. (2020). Ergogenic Effect of Nitrate Supplementation: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002363
  4. Gao C., Gupta S., Adli T., Hou W., Coolsaet R. et al. (2022). The effects of dietary nitrate supplementation on endurance exercise performance and cardiorespiratory measures in healthy adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-021-00450-4
  5. Spriet LL., Wickham KA. (2019). No longer beeting around the bush: a review of potential sex differences with dietary nitrate supplementation. https://doi.org/10.1139/apnm-2019-0063
  6. Australian Institute of Sport. (2023) Sports supplement framework, Beetroot juice [Nitrates] Group A.

Need some help achieving your running goals? Book a telehealth appointment with Performance Medicine’s exercise and run coach, Dr Brea Kunstler, to see how she can help you achieve your goals. She can provide a referral to a trusted shoe provider who will give you 10% off the RRP of your new shoes.