Popeye was onto something – eating spinach (and other leafy greens) not only supports a healthy diet but can also help boost your athletic performance.
Including these fresh, tasty ingredients in your diet could be just the thing to take your fitness to the next level and give you that extra edge when competing. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few of the benefits leafy greens offer.
Increase Muscle Efficiency
The more oxygen your body needs to function, the quicker you’re likely to run out of steam. That’s where leafy greens come into play. These types of vegetables are packed with both nitrate and the nitric oxides, which can yield some remarkable benefits.
According to research published in the Cell Metabolism Journal consuming regular amounts of inorganic nitrate (the same thing that is found in leafy greens!) for just three days, meant that cyclists needed less oxygen to perform. What’s more, the results suggested that this dietary change could also lead to more efficient muscles overall.
Prevent Muscle Stiffness
Of course, one of the things that all athletes dread is muscle stiffness. This common complaint is caused by an acidic build-up which can quickly take hold of the body and lead to agonising aches and ongoing pain. So, what’s the secret to avoiding this issue when race day comes around? Well, there could be a simple answer to that question.
Leafy greens are full of the compound known as chlorophyll. Aside from offering antioxidants and antimutagenic properties, the compound is known to have alkalising abilities, which help to break down acid. That means that including leafy greens in your regular food plan could help to prevent any acidic build-up. You can also get this compound in common food groups, such as olive oil, and so it’s well worth doing just a little research into the area!
Enhance Sports Performance
Looking for a way to support your sports performance? You might just have found it. According to the results of a study published in Frontiers in Physiology, eating leafy greens could have a direct impact on the functions of the body and, ultimately, sports performance as well. The intriguing results are again thanks to the nitrates packed inside this food.
As part of the research, a team from the University of Leuven in Belgium gave participants a nitrate supplement before having them engage in a Sprint Interval Training (SIT) exercises three times per week. The results suggested that the supplements helped boost each athletes performance and researchers commented that this could give them a ‘competitive edge.’
Eat Your Greens!
The diet you eat in the lead-up to a huge race could be crucial to your performance. The addition of leafy greens to your plate could be a smart way to prepare your body for any sporting activity. Plus, there are loads of ways to cook and enjoy these vegetables.
Heading to this year’s Eroica Britannia event? Catch the plant-pushers on-site where we’ll be serving up a nutritious green smoothie to fuel your ride. Sporting green tea, spinach, pear, kale, and seaweed, it could be just the thing to give you a real energy fix!