Beet juice: practical tips from elite marathoners


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Yesterday, I participated in a live chat previewing next weekend’s Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Among the participants were elite marathoners Reid Coolsaet, Dylan Wykes and Brandon Laan, who answered lots of questions about diet, warm-up, tapering and things like that. The most interesting nugget for me was some practical info about how to use beet juice: while I’ve blogged numerous times about the studies showing that beet juice provides a significant endurance boost, lab studies are very different from on-the-ground experience.

The most recent lab study used 500 mL of beet juice 2.5 hours before a time trial. But here’s what Reid had to say:

ReidCoolsaet: 500ml the day before. Anything the morning of upsets the stomach too much.
And Dylan followed up with:
DylanW: Trent Stellingwerf has a protocol for 500ml in the 3 days before and 250ml morning of.
Interestingly, Trent (who recently took a position as Senior Physiologist with the Canadian Sport Centre in Victoria) also works with Reid — which drives home the message that dosing is individual. You’ve got to figure out what your digestive system can handle. And it’s best to do that in practice, not races!

10 Replies to “Beet juice: practical tips from elite marathoners”

  1. Alex

    Andy Jones has shown that acute doses work just as well. And you can get the same nitrate content in a beetroot “shot” as a 500ml drink. http://www.beet-it. (Alex’s edit: the link should be

    So this is even more practical and virtually zero chance of GI distress. I shot, 2-2.5hr pre race. Done !

  2. @Barry: Cool, I’d never seen those concentrated shots before! That could definitely be the solution to the GI problems (assuming that the concentrating process gets rid of whatever causes trouble).

    The study I linked to above (“500 mL of beet juice 2.5 hours before a time trial”) is indeed Andy Jones’s most recent acute protocol. Coolsaet has tried it but run into GI problems, which is why he takes his the day before now.

  3. Well you can recommend the shots to him, I’ve used it several times, just don’t take all the credit ! 😉

  4. So what did Reid and Dylan say about their experiences with beet juice? How often have they tried it? Do they report that it seems to make a difference? How much?

  5. @Amby: I didn’t get that much detail from them, but I should have a chance to pump them for more details next weekend after the marathon. I doubt they’ll have any sort of numerical sense of whether (or how much) it helps — each has only done ~3 marathons, so it’s pretty hard to compare. I suspect they’re basically operating on faith: the studies say it should work, so they’re using it.

    In terms of first-hand experience, I had a chance to chat to Reid about beet juice a few months ago, and he mentioned some rather unfortunate side-effects during a half-marathon — I suspect that’s why he now doesn’t take beet juice on the morning of the race!

  6. One cup of raw beets contains phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, iron, and potassium as well as vitamin A, niacin, folic acid, and biotin. When these nutrients are captured in the juicing process, the body can quickly absorb them. RediBeets saves you the trouble of juicing beets by giving you a concentrated beet juice with only the fiber removed. The essential enzymes remain, along with the natural form of betaine, which aids in cleansing the liver and reducing homocysteine levels. More info @

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