Greens for Gains

Old adage of ‘Eat your vegetables!’ makes perfect sense

By Pauline DiGiorgio

Pauline DiGiorgio, right, joins fellow fitness enthusiast Kayla Almond during a recent workout session.
Pauline DiGiorgio, right, joins fellow fitness enthusiast Kayla Almond during a recent workout session.

We’ve all heard it growing up — “Eat your vegetables!”

But as I get older and experiment with more of a plant-based diet, I wonder to myself if eating my greens has made an impact on my gains in the gym.

For example, dark leafy greens like kale, arugula and spinach provide countless health benefits such as protecting your bones from osteoporosis and regulating digestion to helping fight inflammatory diseases.

These reasons alone merit adding them to daily consumption.

But I wanted to research deeper and see if these magical greens could help me with my gains from daily workouts.

I put the subject to the test by committing to a FabFit smoothie every morning for four weeks.

My results when combined with gym work come in the form of a tame, flat, happy tummy.

This confirmed that upping these fibrous friends truly affirms my mom’s dinner comments.

I will be eating my vegetables, keeping in mind my findings below:

— Let’s break down the vitamins. Vitamin A will help with vision and cell growth that diminish as you get older. This also will aid in maintenance of major organs, including the heart and kidney.

Vitamin C is designed to bolster your immune system. You can’t give it your all in the gym when you are sick, coughing and sneezing everywhere.

Next up, Vitamin K is for strong bones and is essential to prevent injury. You don’t want to go snapping off your ankle on your cardio run or lifting a dumbbell, do you?

Lastly, Vitamin E improves blood vessel health. As you work out, your veins and arteries become more flexible. More elastic stretch is needed so your muscles can allow more blood flow.

Healthy blood vessels have the ability to dilate and expand more efficiently. Packing your diet with more greens means you’ll be upping your vitamins the body needs for peak performance.

I think it’s often forgotten the mental capacity needed for a great workout versus a so-so sweat session.

Your mental health plays a large role in overall wellbeing. If you don’t feel strong mentally, then you can easily lose focus, concentration and miss out on that fan favorite — the endorphin high.

A study in the Journal of Neurology shows increasing your daily serving of leafy greens over five years compared to an individual who lacked this consumption resulted in a “younger” brain — 11 years younger to be exact.

These “superfoods” are so rich in folic acid, beta carotene and essential vitamins, it protects the brain against inflammation and ultimately strengthening all aspects of congestive health.

Let’s put this life-changing game plan into action, creating a habit that’s easy to start implementing everyday.

FabFit smoothie

My formula of this daily FabFit smoothie is split into four parts that you can mix and match with what you have on hand.

— Part one: Let’s pick your greens. There’s many to choose from, but I believe a good fist full of spinach is ideal, with any flavor you’re going for.
— Part two: Fat. Try to choose a high-quality source. I love coconut butter, and a couple tablespoons will do.
— Part 3: Fiber. I found chia seeds to be the easiest to toss in.
— Part 4: Protein. I’ve leaned toward a plant-based diet as of late. A great pea protein like PEScience’s new vegan line of vanilla or peanut butter has been my go to.

Go easy on the fruit as it spikes blood sugar. A quarter cup shall do just fine.

Freeze the fruit first to add a creamy, thicker texture. Vanilla cashew milk and ice help with maintaining its “milkshake” feel and voila, you have greens for gains!

• Pauline DiGiorgio is a fitness ambassador and Group X instructor at Retro Fitness gyms. Questions? Email her at ptlifts@gmail.com.

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