Are you looking for something besides an energy drink or water before hitting the gym? While meeting daily hydration needs with water should be the priority, you may benefit from the added nutrients in a pre-workout juice. Drinking a small serving before exercise could help power your workout.
Benefits of Pre-Workout Juice
Making the decision to switch from a store-bought energy drink to a pre-workout juice has several benefits including fewer calories, less added sugar and no caffeine. That said, eating whole fruits and vegetables whenever possible is ideal, especially since they retain the fiber that can be lost in the juicing process.
And if you're going to drink juice for fitness purposes, consider juicing or blending the fruits and vegetables rather than buying prepared drinks. Juicing allows you to extract the juice from fresh fruits or vegetables, according to the Mayo Clinic. This gives you a liquid or juice that contains most of the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients of the whole fruit you used.
But if you want to use the whole fruit, you can also blend your pre-workout juice. Blending allows you to retain some of the fiber and gives you more phytonutrients. Plus, you can add other ingredients such as protein powder or Greek yogurt.
Consuming the required amount of fruits and vegetables per day can be challenging for some people. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that only one in ten adults meet the federal fruit or vegetable recommendations of at least 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fruit per day and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables. With that in mind, using fruit or vegetable juice for fitness may help you meet the daily requirements.
Best Fruit Juice Before Workout
One of the best fruit juice before a workout is beetroot juice. This energizing beverage has several studies to back-up the claims that drinking it as a pre-workout juice may help improve stamina and endurance.
The reason this root veggie is gaining attention is that it's packed full of nitrates, which when eaten or consumed in a juice or smoothie, allows the body to convert the nitrates into nitric oxide that dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow. And when you have better blood flow, you have the potential to perform better in exercise
While the results of several studies like this September 2016 study published in the journal Nutrients support the claim that the ingestion of nitrate-rich foods such as beetroot juice can increase plasma nitrate concentrations, improve exercise performance and reduce heart disease risk, it's important to point out that most of them are very small, with some using 10 subjects or less.
The method you use to make beetroot juice and any extra ingredients you add will determine the calorie content. According to the USDA, 1 cup of raw beets has 58 calories, 13 grams of carbohydrates, with 3.8 grams coming from fiber and 9.2 grams from sugar and 2.2 grams of protein.
Read more: The Best Juices to Drink in the Morning
Other Beneficial Fruits and Vegetables
The most current research on the correlation between juice and increased exercise performance is heavily directed towards beetroot juice. However, there are other fruits and vegetables that you can make into a pre-workout juice.
Apples are full of fiber, vitamin C and phytochemicals such as quercetin, which is a plant chemical that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They also go well with almost any other fruit or vegetable.
Kale is a leafy green vegetable that is best known for containing vitamins A, C and K, according to the USDA. It's also high in antioxidants.
Citrus fruits such as oranges and tangerines add sweetness and color to a pre-workout juice. They are also packed full of vitamin C which is an antioxidant that may help to protect your body from infection and damage to body cells and help produce collagen, which holds bones and muscles together, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Carrots, which are packed full of beta-carotene, an important antioxidant that helps to reduce the damage from free radicals, are an excellent veggie to use for juicing. Combine carrots with apples for a tasty energy juice before workout time.
- The Mayo Clinic: "Juicing: What are the Health Benefits"
- Nutrients: "Effects of a Short-Term High-Nitrate Diet on Exercise Performance"
- Nutrients: "The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease"
- USDA, MyFoodData: "Beets, Raw"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables"
- USDA, FoodData Central: "Kale"
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Antioxidants Protecting Healthy Cells"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Apples"