My Secret to Better Workouts Is Drinking Juice—Here's Why


(Image credit: Courtesy of Kia Topps)

I'm a firm believer that the best part of any workout is the end. While working out, in general, is something that I used to dread, running has now become a driving force in my life. It's improved my mental health, helped me reach my weight goals, and I feel unstoppable each time I run. I went from running 3 miles and feeling exhausted to now being able to run 6 to 9 miles on average. Want to know my secret? Beet and cherry juice.

As most of us know, getting up to work out is typically the hardest part, which is why people rely on supplements, protein, pre-workout products, etc. Pre-workout supplements and I don't get along. I took it one time before a workout and felt like I was having a heart attack. One day, I researched the best thing to take to increase my endurance for a workout, and that's when I discovered beets.

Beets are the gift that keeps on giving. They're beneficial for your skin and heart health, and research has shown that they increase stamina and endurance during a workout. I've been raving about the benefits of drinking beet juice for years now, but no one ever believed me.

To get some backing on which natural juices are beneficial for post and pre-workout, I asked Jordan Mazur, MS, RD, Sports Dietician and Director of Nutrition for the 49ers, and Malachy McHugh, physiology expert and Director of Research at the Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma, for their tips.


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"Beets are a natural way to produce endurance for a workout," Mazur says. "Beets are natural sources of dietary nitrates in which our bodies convert into nitric oxide. It brings oxygen into the working muscles. Dietary nitrates help with blood flow to increase oxygen to your blood vessels especially for long-distance. The benefit of that is being a natural source. A lot of strength training is where beet juice will be beneficial."

Figuring out what to eat or drink before a workout can be confusing. I've heard it all—some people say fasted cardio is more efficient in regards to weight loss, but on the other hand, I've heard people say that consuming carbs before a workout is more efficient. Fasted cardio is when you work out eight hours post-sleep, or when you work out on an empty stomach in the morning.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Kia Topps)

Although beets can have an effect on your performance, the timing of when you drink the juice matters a lot. Typically, I drink it at least two to eight hours before my morning runs. McHugh says that ingesting fruit juice right before a workout can have its cons.

"You shouldn't take any fruit juice directly before exercise because the fructose in juice can cause you gastrointestinal stress. If you take beet juice too close before exercise, it will run with you. The point there is taking fruit juice before an exercise is not ideal because your body has to work hard to break down the fructose," McHugh says.

Take it from me: Last week I was in a rush and downed a huge glass of beet juice 20 minutes before my run, and let's just say, my stomach wasn't too happy during or after my run. As McHugh stated earlier, the beet juice definitely ran with me.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Kia Topps)

Post-workout is a different ball game. I've seen athletes take ice baths as a form of recovery, and TBH, I'm just not down for that. The only tub of ice that I'm familiar and okay with, is ice cream. That's when I decided to try out tart cherry juice.

Given that I typically run for over an hour each day on the uneven hard pavement (thanks, L.A.), the pressure is really hard on my legs, causing them to become sore and tight. I often find myself feeling so sore that I had to start limiting my runs to every other day. According to McHugh, this is in part due to inflammation after running for such a long time.

"When digesting cherry juice, it results in your body having a 30%–40% reduction in an inflammatory response. That soreness and stiffness the next day should be lessened after drinking the juice," McHugh says.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Kia Topps)

To test this useful knowledge, I drank cherry juice for a week after every run or workout. It's safe to say that I caught some much-needed Z's, my calves were less sore, and my legs felt less worn out. Not to mention that I didn't feel as bloated at all. The cherry juice helped me feel very light, hydrated, well-rested, and I was more alert and energetic.

Mazur noted that the juice is a great natural source for recovery. "Tart cherry juice is an all-natural way to speed up recovery and muscle damage that we do during exercise. Recovering with antioxidants and an anti-inflammatory is key to repair the muscles. Antioxidants help reduce muscle soreness, muscle damage, and decrease inflammation after exercise and all the stresses we put our body to. They are a natural source of melatonin," Mazur says.

Don't worry—the melatonin won't make you sleepy. The juice will just help with the overall calmness that you feel post-workout, which will, in turn, help you sleep better. Mazur also notes that this magic drink helps you stay hydrated naturally.

McHugh recommends taking Cheribuni post-workout to help your muscles recover. It promotes better sleep, heart health, and faster recovery. When I asked the experts if I should drink it before my runs, Mazur said it can be beneficial and it definitely isn't a bad thing, but it depends on the workouts you do.

Mazur went on to say that if you consume beet juice before a workout, you'll ultimately get more of the benefit from the carbohydrates. "When we are in a fasted state, we mobilize fat sources to burn energy," Mazur says. In other words, if your goal is to shed weight, fasted cardio may be beneficial for you.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Kia Topps)

One thing to note is that drinking cherry and beet juice won't have much of an effect if you're not consistent. It takes consistency. I've been drinking it every night after my workouts and my insomnia is practically gone and I can actually walk down my steps without feeling like my legs are going to give out on me.

If you're looking for natural alternatives to increase your performance, endurance, and recovery during and after workouts, then try these alternatives. My suggestion would be to start off with small amounts of beet juice leading up to your run or even the night before to avoid stomach issues. If you're worried about the effects these drinks might have on your body, you can also check with your doctor first before adding them to your routine.

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This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used in the place of advice of your physician or other medical professionals. You should always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first with any health-related questions.