Beetroot juice has become a popular health drink due to its many potential benefits. Some of the top reasons people drink beetroot juice include improved blood flow, lower blood pressure, and increased exercise performance. But an important question arises – when is the best time to drink beetroot juice? Can you drink it on an empty stomach? Let’s take a detailed look at the research and potential benefits and side effects of drinking beetroot juice on an empty stomach.
What is Beetroot Juice?
Beetroot juice is made by juicing beetroots, usually raw. Beetroots are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds such as betalains. Some of the top nutrients found in beetroot juice include:
|Nutrient||Per 1 cup (248g)|
|Vitamin C||30% DV|
Beetroot juice also contains key antioxidants like betalains, which give the juice its deep red color. The betalin pigments have been linked to reduced inflammation, improved immunity, and lower oxidative stress.
Benefits of Drinking Beetroot Juice
Research has uncovered some promising health benefits to drinking beetroot juice:
May Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. Studies show that drinking beetroot juice may significantly reduce blood pressure in as little as 2-3 hours, with the greatest benefits seen after drinking 1-2 cups per day for 4-6 weeks.
The natural nitrates in beetroot get converted into nitric oxide in the body, which helps dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow. The result is a measurable drop in blood pressure.
May Improve Exercise Performance
Multiple studies demonstrate that drinking beetroot juice prior to exercise allows people to exercise longer at higher intensity. Athletes given beetroot juice could cycle up to 16% longer compared to a placebo.
Again, this seems to be related to nitrates converting into nitric oxide, as well as the juice’s carbohydrate content providing fuel for working muscles. This may significantly boost endurance and stamina.
May Support Brain Health
Animal and human studies suggest that drinking beetroot juice may benefit the brain and help deter dementia through increasing blood flow to the brain. One study in people at risk of dementia showed better blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain after drinking beetroot juice.
Additionally, the nitrates in beetroot juice may help dilate blood vessels and improve oxygenation, fueling brain cell health.
May Have Anti-Cancer Effects
Test tube studies demonstrate that betalains found in beetroot juice exhibit anticancer properties. Researchers think this is due to its anti-inflammatory effects and ability to scavenge free radicals.
However, more research is needed to know if drinking beetroot juice can prevent or treat cancer in humans.
Downsides of Drinking Beetroot Juice
Beetroot juice is considered safe for most people, but there are some downsides to consider:
- May cause beeturia – a harmless condition that turns urine pink/red.
- Oxalate content may contribute to kidney stones in prone individuals.
- Juice may stain clothes and surfaces.
- Some people dislike the earthy taste.
- Drinking large amounts may cause low calcium levels and kidney damage.
It’s also important to note that processed beetroot juice from stores likely contains less nitrates and nutrients than fresh juice. For health, it’s better to juice beetroots at home.
Can You Drink Beetroot Juice on an Empty Stomach?
There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that drinking beetroot juice on an empty stomach is dangerous or harmful. However, some sources advise against this practice, claiming the juice may upset your stomach without food.
Potential side effects of drinking beetroot juice on an empty stomach may include:
- Upset stomach
- Abdominal cramps
- Low blood sugar
These effects may be more likely when drinking large amounts of beetroot juice at once on an empty stomach. Mild gastrointestinal distress is possible as the body adjusts.
To minimize risk, it may be wise to start with a small 1-2 oz shot of juice on an empty stomach. Slowly increase the amount as tolerated. You can also try mixing it with a squeeze of lemon or ginger to aid digestion.
Potential Benefits of Drinking Beetroot Juice on an Empty Stomach
Despite the potential for digestive upset, there may be some advantages to drinking beetroot juice on an empty stomach:
- May help lower blood pressure especially first thing in the morning
- Provides an energetic and focused start to the day
- Nutrients and compounds absorb optimally without food
- Nitrates have more time to convert to nitric oxide before eating
Overall, research suggests the best time to drink beetroot juice is first thing in the morning or 2-3 hours before exercise. This gives the nitrates time to convert to nitric oxide before needing energy and endurance. Drinking it early in the day may provide advantages.
Tips for Drinking Beetroot Juice on an Empty Stomach
If you want to try enjoying your beetroot juice first thing in the morning, here are some tips to make it an enjoyable experience and minimize side effects:
- Start with a 1-2oz (30-60ml) serving and work up from there
- Combine it with gentler juices like apple, carrot or grape
- Add fresh ginger or lemon juice to ease digestion
- Drink plenty of water after to stay hydrated
- Listen to your body – reduce amount if experiencing GI issues
- Stick to fresh, homemade juice for maximum benefits
Evidence suggests beetroot juice is safe to consume in moderation on an empty stomach for most people. While it may increase the risk of temporary digestive upset in some, the potential benefits seem to outweigh the risk – especially if you start with a small serving.
Drinking 1-2 ounces of beetroot juice first thing in the morning may help lower blood pressure, improve workout performance, and provide an energizing start to your day. However, introduce it slowly and avoid large amounts to minimize risk of side effects.
Beetroot juice is packed with nutrients and compounds that research shows may boost several aspects of health. While more studies are needed, the potential benefits of including it in your routine – even on an empty stomach – seem promising.