Four green foods that will give your workouts a boost
Whether you’re slogging along at the gym and need a boost, looking for something extra to power you through your spinning class, or just need more energy at work, you might consider turning to green foods. They’re packed with vitamins and minerals and can give your body the extra nutrients it craves. Here, four great green supplements to try:
Best for: Before or after a workout
Why: This blue-green algae has long been buzzed about for its ability to improve exercise performance. A 2010 study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that men who took 6 g of spirulina a day for four weeks were able to run longer in a treadmill test before fatiguing than those on a placebo. They also burned more fat during exercise and experienced less muscle damage and inflammation. Spirulina’s impressive nutritional profile offers some insight into these results: this microalgae is high in energizing B vitamins and iron and antioxidant vitamins C and E, which can help counteract the free radical damage that occurs during exercise. Plus, because of spirulina’s high protein content and amino acid profile, “It makes a great post-workout supplement to jump-start muscle recovery, especially for vegan and vegetarian athletes,” says Nicole Fasules, a registered dietitian and personal trainer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Choose powdered varieties, which are best absorbed by your body, she suggests.
Leafy green vegetables
Best for: Before a workout
Why: You know you should eat your greens everyday, but that doesn’t always happen, especially if you’re not a spinach or kale fan. That’s where a powdered green foods supplement, packed with a variety of veggies, can step in and supply the nutrition you’re missing. It may even help you power through an especially tough workout, according to a recent study from Swedish researchers. Additionally, getting the nutrients you need everyday will help your body function at its best, and that alone can perk up your workouts. Consume veggies in their whole form and use a powdered supplement (stirred into smoothies and drinks) for maximum nutrient absorption and to fill in the gaps in your diet.
Best for: Before a workout
Why: Chlorella is a green algae that grows in fresh water and has similar nutritional properties as spirulina. It’s rich in chlorophyll and a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals like B vitamins, calcium, zinc, and magnesium. Chlorella also contains a carotenoid called astaxanthin, which studies show can help delay muscle soreness from exercise and improve endurance. Additionally, chlorella may boost stamina: In a new animal study, mice that were given chlorella powder for two weeks were able to swim twice as long as mice that swam without the supplement. For best results, take a powdered supplement.
Best for: Before a workout
Why: Got that sluggish, can’t-get-out-of-bed-and-to-the-gym feeling? Try a shot of wheat grass. “I find that when people take wheat grass for the first time, they feel this jolt of energy in their system,” says Fasules. Why? Drinking wheat grass juice is an effective way to deliver oxygen into your bloodstream, she explains. This supplies energy for workouts so you feel stronger and can exercise harder and longer. More than that, it can impact your health all day long: “Having more oxygen running around in your blood will improve how you feel in a big way, especially if you’re low in iron or not absorbing nutrients appropriately, two things that zap energy,” Fasules says. The taste is something to get used to (you’ve been warned!), but it’s best to take as a juice or powder. Mix into water or add to a fruity smoothie to improve flavor.
THE OTHER GREEN DRINK
Green tea is hailed as a miracle health drink that prevents cancer, fights heart disease, and more. The power lies in its potent antioxidant, called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which decreases inflammation, and that can be especially helpful in post-exercise recovery. Green tea may also help improve weight loss results: people who drank caffeinated green tea and exercised for 180 minutes per week for 12 weeks lost more belly fat than those consuming a caffeinated control beverage, according to a study in the Journal of Nutrition. The antioxidant catechins are thought to rev metabolism, therefore boosting calorie burn. Plus, while green tea does contain some caffeine, it’s a fraction of what’s found in coffee. That not only means you can probably drink it all day without worrying about disturbing your sleep, but it also won’t “create the insulin surges, which can cause highs and lows in energy levels, that highly caffeinated drinks do,” says Fasules. Aim for five cups throughout the day, or try a green tea supplement.
NATURE’S PLUS FRUITEIN REVITALIZING GREEN FOODS mixes instantly to deliver nutrient-rich superfoods like barley grass juice, green tea, algae, broccoli, spinach, and spirulina in a creamy, yummy shake.
AMAZING GRASS GREENS SUPERFOOD Get your daily dose of nutritious whole greens. Every serving is chock-full of all of the necessary vitamins and minerals you need, plus it tastes great! Add to any beverage.
SUN CHLORELLA USA SUN CHLORELLA packs mega green nutrition in a convenient capsule. Made from pure green algae with the full range of nutrients you need to produce energy and keep it coming throughout the day.