Forget the anabolic steroids. Put down the amphetamines. Step away from hormone replacement.

Say ‘hello’ to the beet. Love them or hate them, beets are undeniably healthy and beneficial. They are rich in phytonutrients called betalains, which are known antioxidants. These pigmented produce are also renowned for their cardiovascular benefits.

Did you know, however, that by ingesting Beta vulgaris you can also enhance your athletic performance?

Emerging research is suggesting that athletes who regularly consume beetroot juice show an increase in endurance by as much as three percent. Doesn’t sound impressive enough for you? Consider how valuable that three percent would be in a race. That extra eleven seconds in the Boston Marathon could mean the difference between first and fifteenth place.

The secret to the new “juicing” trend? Nitrates. A lot of them. Beets contain high levels of nitrates, which basically mainline oxygen to your muscles, allowing the muscles to sustain during your workout without producing any excessive lactic acid. Nitrates also help to widen blood vessels (called vasodilation), thereby lowering blood pressure and encouraging more blood flow. This all means your muscles will be able to perform longer at high intensity. Your muscle recovery will also enjoy a boost, thanks to the beet’s anti-inflammatory properties.

I was teaching an indoor cycling class last week while drinking concentrated beet juice. Wow. By the time class was over, I was ready for another hour or two. I felt like I could go all day, in fact, and it felt amazing. I have only recently begun drinking the stuff; about two to three servings a week (recommended in Outside Magazine) and can already detect a marked difference in my energy levels. If this all sounds too unappetizing for you, there are ways to improve the flavor to please your palette. Mix in some berries, some yogurt, or a banana. Or, for the easiest route, try a powdered, concentrated mix and pour some into your water bottle.

In this world of cheating, cutting corners, and the relentless pursuit of recognition at any expense, beetroot juice is still on the good side of honest, natural, and legal advantage. Try it for yourself.

Let me know if you currently drink beet juice for these benefits- I’d love to hear about your experience.

Jodilyn Stuart is the owner of ModaBody Fitness and has been a fitness professional since 1997. She has recently begun contributing to 303 Magazine as a fitness writer.