We have all heard since we are kids “eat your vegetables”. As we start dieting and training our coaches tell us to add vegetables to almost every meal. These low calorie delights are actually more important to your meal than you might think. Why are they so important??? We have heard fancy things like they provide us with phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber to combat chronic illness and aging. But I am going to share with you the top 4 reasons why YOU the Athlete need to eat your fruits and veggies.
# 4 Great source of Fiber
It adds bulk to your diet helping you feel full faster which results in eating less calories at a meal, which ultimately can help lead to weight loss. It is important that you add fiber to your diet slowly. Until your body gets used to it you can experience bloating, gas and cramps. Be sure increase your water intake as well.
#3. Regulate Digestion
Most veggies are a source of insoluble fiber which helps with digestion by speeding up the passage of food and waste. It also adds in the absorption of nutrients that detox your body naturally. Greens such as cabbage promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon. Don’t get carried away there is no need to do a “juice cleanse”. Just add veggies to your meal. Juicing can actually slow your metabolism because it takes less energy to digest liquid. Breaking down food actually burns calories.
Veggies are so easy to prepare. Most of them you can just eat raw: Spinach, Kale, Cabbage, Broccoli. Those that you do cook take very little time and preparation. I like to cook mine in a big pot and prepare enough for 3-5 days at a time.
#1 Reason you should eat your veggies…. Antioxidant power
We hear about antioxidants all the time….so what is an antioxidant?? When we just live our normal daily life we intake pollutants. Free radicals help get rid of these pollutants, and dead or injured cells in our body. When they do this, oxidation occurs in our bodies which is like “rust”. Antioxidants more or less clean out this rust. Our bodies are continually destroying cells through oxidation, then new cells are born. As long as this is balanced everything is fine. BUT when too much oxidation occurs, from too many free radicals, our bodies become inflamed and chronic illnesses can develop. The more free radicals in your body, the greater the chances of developing a chronic disease like cancer. So this is why we need to eat 7-13 servings of fruit a DAY, just to keep our bodies balanced!!!
AND get this, athletes may need more protection from the damage of oxidative stress. Studies have shown that endurance and strength training athletes produce more free radicals than sedentary individuals. Eating your fruits and veggies (antioxidants) can be viewed as insurance against this damage. If you train heavily day in and day out, antioxidants should be a staple in your training diet. Within a few months of increased consumption you should notice reduced inflammation , faster recovery and better workouts.
So listen to your mom and EAT YOUR VEGGIES!!!