How do green smoothies affect endurance athletes?

endurance

Written by Sergei Boutenko

If you run, hike, swim, snowboard, cycle, attend crossfit, or actively engage in any other sports, then you’re probably aware that your body requires extra nutritional supplementation in order to function properly. Simply put, athletes need more nutrients than less-active people. They demand more from their bodies and thus must compensate with the right nutrients to keep up performance and recovery.

Unfortunately, today’s athletes have been duped into believing that in order to maintain proper health, they must consume a wide range of animal products, supplements, and power gels. I think this is one of the biggest misconceptions in the field of sports and fitness. In this post, I am not interested in arguing whether athletes should be vegans or not.

I simply want to challenge the traditional approach and illustrate that the nutritional needs of an athlete can be met through natural means. I believe all athletes can benefit by consuming more fresh, organic greens and fruits in a blended concoction commonly referred to as a “green smoothie.”

To keep the body performing optimally, you must consistently replenish the following seven essential nutrients: calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, sodium, and zinc. Traditional athletes accomplish this by taking multivitamins and supplements. In my personal practice, I have found it beneficial to disregard tradition and instead blend green smoothies made from dark leafy veggies and fresh fruit. While I do not consider myself an “endurance athlete,” I live an extremely active life.

Here is my idea of a good time: last summer I climbed Mt Shasta (a 14,179 foot tall mountain in Northern California) in four hours and forty-five minutes. The following day I decided that I needed to climb more mountains so I scaled nearby Mt Mcloughlin (9,495 feet) and Mt Thielsen (9,182 feet) in one day. Mind you, I have never taken artificial supplements and base my success and endurance largely on my diet.

 

Athletes Need More Nutrients Than Less-Active People

Let’s look at the essential nutrients needed to sustain prolonged exercise, as well as how one can get these elements in natural form.

1. Calcium is essential because it prevents muscle cramps and helps strengthen bones. According to the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) most athletes don’t meet their need for daily calcium intake. Lack of calcium can lead to a slew of problems, such as, osteoporosis and hormone imbalance. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommended daily dose of calcium ranges between 1,000-1,500 mg per day. Most people think that the best way to get calcium is to drink a glass of milk. Few people are aware that dark leafy greens are just as effective at loading the body with calcium. According to the USDA, one cup of milk has 314 mg of calcium. A cup of collard greens has 357 mg of calcium. That’s 63 mg more than a glass of milk. Thus a green smoothie crammed with collard greens can meet ones need for calcium no worse than milk.

2. Iron is another common element that athletes are deficient in. One of iron’s primary functions is to carry oxygen to cells and eliminate carbon dioxide from the body. Most sports nutritionists recommend eating red meat to get your daily dose of iron. In traditional sports nutrition it is rarely mentioned that tomatoes, apricots, pomegranates, currants, olives, Swiss chard, and parsley are also excellent sources of iron.

3. Magnesium is essential for athletes. Its presence is vital in more than 300 chemical processes that sustain basic human function and health (http://triathlon.competitor.com). These functions include blood pressure regulations, muscle contraction and relaxation, nerve function, immunity, and cardiac activity. Foods that contain high amounts of magnesium include: almonds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, spinach, beet greens, collards greens, and dates. Adding these foods to your green smoothies will aid your body in many of its metabolic processes.

4. Potassium is easy! Every good smoothie needs a banana. According to the USDA, one cup of mashed banana has more than 800 mg of potassium. If you’re not a fan of bananas, here is a list of other foods that are high in this essential nutrient: avocado, beet greens, spinach, apricots, cantaloupe, figs, nectarines, and pears.

5. Selenium is critical to antioxidant production. Athletes who don’t get enough selenium in their diet experience more cell damage and take longer to recover from strenuous exercise. Regular consumption of Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, spinach, and seaweed will ensure that your body gets enough selenium.

6.  Sodium retains water in the cells and prevents dehydration. Fresh fruits and vegetable are better at helping cells retain water than any sports drinks on the market. Period!

7. Zinc levels are directly correlated to endurance. Athletes who have lower than recommended zinc levels in the body will struggle to perform at their peak. According to the ICPA (www.chiro.org) zinc is also crucial for tissue repair. Here are some foods that contain high amounts of zinc: pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, water melon seeds, peanuts, bee pollen, sweet peppers, spinach, parsley, and seaweed.

green smoothie documentary by Sergei Boutenko

 

Why you should stop spending money on expensive supplements

In addition to the seven essential nutrients, sports enthusiast also require higher than normal amounts of protein. If you look at the nutritional composition of most dark green, leafy veggies, you will find that they rival many types of meat in essential amino acids (protein). For example, one pound of romaine lettuce or kale provides you with roughly the same amount of protein as a quarter pound steak (www.drfuhrman.com). One pound of greens may seem like a lot, but when you blend a pound of greens in a smoothie, it’s not too difficult to consume it in its entirety. After all, large, muscular animals like elephants and cows get their protein from greens.

In a nutshell, my message is simple… “Stop spending money on expensive supplements and instead, blend a smoothie!” I am so confident that green smoothies rival conventional supplements, I’m making a documentary about it. One week ago I launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a documentary about how green smoothies affect endurance athletes.

If you pre-order my video your contribution will help me fund this documentary. For more information on my project, check out this link: Kickstarter Project | Powered by Green Smoothies Film

P.S. Here’s an awesome Power Green Smoothie that’s great for pre and post workouts…

 

sergei boutenko power green smoothie

sergei boutenko power green smoothie

Sergei’s Green Power Smoothie

1 cup spinach
1 cup Swiss chard
1 cup collard greens
1-2 stalks of celery with dark green leaves
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 banana
1 peach, pitted
1 pear
1/2 avocado
4 dates, pitted
2 tablespoons bee pollen (optional)

Serves 2-3

Add enough water to blend everything in the blender. Blend until smooth and enjoy!

 

Join the conversation

What green smoothie are you slurping on today? Do you drink green smoothies before or after an intense workout? I’d love to hear about it! Share in the comments below.

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27 Responses to “How do green smoothies affect endurance athletes?”

  1. Antoinette 9.13.2014 at 2:51 am #

    My blender gets them down but they are at times still a little chewy . The Vitamix is ridiculously expensive here in Australia , around $900 . I am still considering buyimg one but can you tell me how smooth they get the smoothies . For example if you add carrot are they creamy or can you still taste the tiny little bits .

    • SGS Rawkstar Jessie 9.16.2014 at 6:22 am #

      Hey Antoinette.

      Thanks for comment. Vitamix is a great machine, are you looking an any other blenders? Thermomix? Blendtec? My Vitamix creates a smooth creamy smoothie every time. :) I roast my root veggies: http://simplegreensmoothies.com/tips/root-veggies

      Hope that helps.

  2. John 9.3.2013 at 12:13 pm #

    just Starting Out With TheSmoothies How Do You Know Which One IS Right For I WantEnergy At The Same Tim Help With Weight? And I AlsoHave Muscular Dystrophy WhatCan Help With That?

    • Jadah and Jen 9.4.2013 at 8:25 am #

      The smoothie recipe on this page is great for energy, and still helps to lose weight if you drink it in place of a meal. Find out what fruits and veggies are good for muscular dystrophy, and make a smoothie out of them! It is fun to create recipes :-)

      • John 9.4.2013 at 2:58 pm #

        Thanks are There Fruits That Would Actually interfere With Weight lose

  3. George 6.3.2013 at 9:19 am #

    To Jadah and Jen

    Iv been making smoothies and loving it. I started a biggest loser competition at work (trader Joe’s) I run 4 miles a day and eat pretty good.. How many ounces or cups of smoothies may I have a day? I have one in the morning but I would like to have another for dinner? Am I consuming to much natural sugar from the fruits?

    • Jadah and Jen 6.3.2013 at 10:36 am #

      Hi George!
      Great to hear about your competition :-) Personally, we don’t think that two 16 ounce smoothies is too much for one day, but everybody is different.

  4. Katie 5.20.2013 at 8:18 pm #

    Hey guys, I am a green smoothie nut, everyday without fail, BUT at the moment my blender carked it… so which blender… Vitamix are $800.00 AUD are they worth it?

  5. Alii 5.10.2013 at 1:57 pm #

    Hi,

    I just started jogging 2-3x a week and was wondering if I should drink a green smoothie prior to my jog/run or afterwards? Ive always struggled with whether I should eat or drink prior to . And if it counts for anything I usually go out for a jog anywhere from 6am-10am.

    Any thoughts? Advice? No cruel comments please. If this question was previously address sorry – I didnt go through all of the responses.

    A

    • Jadah and Jen 5.11.2013 at 7:56 pm #

      Hi Alii! This is a great question. We believe that the answer may be both. Your body needs valuable nutrients to help it run properly and efficiently before working out–especially in the morning. It could be a good idea to drink a normal-sized smoothie before working out. On the flip side, there is about a 45-minute window after working out where replenishing your body’s nutrients is key! You don’t have to replenish them the minute you are done, but sometime within 45 minutes you may want to drink a green smoothie of some kind. Maybe you could make a larger portion before your workout, and drink part of it before and part of it after? These are all mere suggestions :-) We want you to do what is best for YOUR body!

  6. Katrin - therawfoodsisters.com 5.7.2013 at 9:23 am #

    I love to start my day with a green smoothie! Since making the transition to a clean and healthy lifestyle and becoming Raw Vegan in January 2013. Can´t say it enough, but never felt this good! Loved this post. Filled with great information. Thanks for sharing!

  7. isa 4.29.2013 at 9:27 am #

    Hi , I was wondeting if it is still healthy to add truvia to some smoothies to make them sweeter?

    • Jadah and Jen 4.30.2013 at 5:36 am #

      Hi Isa! It would definitely make them sweeter. We personally don’t use it, and recommend using natural sugar in fruit to sweeten smoothies, but if you think this well help in your green smoothie drinking and health then go for it! We want you to feel free to try what works for you :-)

  8. shiny 4.15.2013 at 4:17 am #

    Hi . just wanted tos ay that i do the challenge and it has been great. am a little suprised as to how hungry i get when i drink these smoothies. i drink them for breakfast around 8 and by 10 am, i cant wait to eat something cause am soo hungry.
    what can I do about it?

    • Jadah and Jen 4.15.2013 at 5:16 am #

      Hi Shiny! This is a great question. Have you been adding any superfoods to your smoothies (i.e. Flax seed, chia seeds, maca powder, etc.)? A lot of these add protein and fiber which help you to stay fuller longer. Here is a link to our 10 favorite superfoods:
      http://simplegreensmoothies.com/green-smoothie-superfoods

    • Lee 4.15.2013 at 11:43 pm #

      Shiny, to add on to Jadah and Jen’s comment.. Are you putting any good healthy fats in your smoothies? I’ve noticed upping my greens and adding foods such as coconut oil, avocado, and sometimes peanut butter helps.
      And i make sure I drink them slowly, giving my saliva a chance to mix with it and get my digestive juices flowing.

      • Jadah and Jen 4.16.2013 at 2:36 pm #

        Lee, great input :-) Thanks for thinking of that!

  9. Lydia 4.6.2013 at 4:44 pm #

    I loved your challenge so much that I blogged about it! I hope you get others trying out green smoothies by my link. I was pleasantly surprised by how good these can be. Thanks for sharing!

  10. David 4.4.2013 at 9:21 am #

    I started the challenge on Monday and love how I feel through out the day.I replaced my breakfast and dinner with these smoothies and feel great.Now the real challenge is trying to get my wife to try it.

  11. Lee 4.3.2013 at 4:34 pm #

    Since I just started doing the green smoothies I thought I would leave my comment. I’m nowhere close to an athlete, but my mid-afternoon smoothie today fueled my workout on a whole ‘nother level! I have never felt this good after or during a workout, I have felt good before…but never fantastic. I’m lowkey euphoric right now! My body is tingling like it’s humming to me. And this is after over an hour of intense dance and hula hooping!
    This smoothie today was Spinach, Swiss chard, banana, carrot, peaches, pineapple, apple, coconut oil, almond milk, and water.

  12. LaTavia 4.3.2013 at 10:48 am #

    I am an elite track and field athlete and I run the 800m. I have a Nutritionist that is BIG on eating heathy and the only meats he tell me to eat are lean turkey, chicken breast and fish ( salmon & tuna). Everything else is fruits and veggies. But he also is big on me taking my supplements as well. I have been following you guys on Instagram and started going crazy on the green smoothies and i told him and he love the idea of me doing it but he told me to be careful with mixing and eating fruits with veggies because the body may not digest it all properly. But mixing JUST veggies is not so good. What do you think about that?

    • Jadah and Jen 4.3.2013 at 3:36 pm #

      Hmm… We haven’t heard of why eating fruits and veggies together would be bad for you. We thinking that getting a variety of fruits and veggies gives you better access to the nutrients you need. And tastes great, too!

  13. Christina 3.30.2013 at 9:25 pm #

    The smoothie for athletes looks delish! Although Ive always been aware of the principles of food combining. It seems to me mixing veggies such as celery and other fruits works well for you? Could you shed some light on this topic?

  14. Austin long 3.30.2013 at 7:09 pm #

    Hey Sergei. I have been following your stuff and watching your videos for a while now. I have a question for you. I work offshore and bring something called green vibrance with me because there is a huge lack in fresh greens out here. I try my best to stay healthy by working and eating whatever I can get my hands on that is healthy. Any other tips for me. I also take garden of life’s raw protein which is basically just sprouted grains powdered. I also take food grade diatomaceous earth. What else can I do for the month I am out here working to get all that my body needs? Thanks for all that you do. You and your family are truly inspirational, genuine people!

  15. Running 3.30.2013 at 4:49 pm #

    kale, blueberries, carrots & bananas! if I have smoothie left over from the a.m. then I will have the rest immediately after my workout. will definitely make more effort to regularly have one after my workouts. thanks.

    • Jen H 3.30.2013 at 6:03 pm #

      It’s all about being intentional— way to go!

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