ALKALINIZE with GREENS for PERFORMANCE and RECOVERYby Jennifer Higgins on 04/19/11
A green love note for all the Coaches at CrossFit Works. Ingredients for their own Green Smoothie.
Met with a certain amount of skepticism by certain people who verified that it all goes in the blender together...and, yes, you drink it. Less work than chewing up those interminable salads!
Many athletes and people who begin a fitness or training program wonder about what they should eat to aid in their recovery. People start talking about proteins or carbohydrates or purchase expensive powdered mixes or consume corn syrup in artificial coloring-filled “sports drinks”. Many performance oriented folks are very savvy about clean protein with a high percentage of their carbohydrates post workout. We can talk about branch chain amino acids and creatine and all those useful things. It is rare to hear mention of green vegetables in a conversation about sports recovery. Isn’t post-workout nutrition the one place where green vegetables don’t matter? Afraid not. Greens are especially meaningful in these days of increasing heat and profuse sweating.
Let's not let your stereotype of the yoga/juice bar crowd prevent us from developing a close relationship with the green smoothie for recovery. In fact we can even learn a little bit from some old school "doping"...soda doping. Athletes involved in high intensity, anaerobic sports have been shown, clinically, to improve speed by ingesting baking soda. Baking soda is a powerfully alkalinizing substance which is thought to assist performance by increasing the rate at which the acidic muscle waste products can be removed and the production of ATP kept high. Clinical studies are more in agreement about the performance boosting effect of baking soda than a lot of the other fancier, more expensive performance aids. Ummm, yes, unpleasant digestive side effects can occur, as well as the negative effects of ingesting large amounts of sodium (baking soda is sodium bicarbonate). OK, so I'm not suggesting baking soda for performance enhancement, I'm just providing a little background to get you to take the alkalinity of the body seriously with regard to training and performance.
Our ability to benefit from our workouts is determined by our ability to recover from them. Recovery involves the inflammatory process, the anti-inflammatory response, glycogen replenishment, muscle building and bone modeling/construction. There is a wide assortment of nutrients involved in these complicated metabolic processes, but one controlling condition for many of them is our pH, particularly the pH of our blood stream. Working out, and heavy breathing increases acidity in the body. Healing , recovery and rebuilding happens most effectively at a slightly alkaline pH. If we remain in an acidic state we risk breaking down muscle tissue and cannibalizing our bones and losing calcium. Your body tries to restore alkalinity by releasing calcium from your bones and nitrogen from your muscle tissue-exactly what you don’t want! We can easily use food to quickly restore alkalinity to the body. The best foods (those with the most basic-producing pH) to restore alkalinity to the body are the vegetables and some fruits. Spinach, celery, carrots and zucchini are all good. Blend them up in your blender with water, ice and a lemon wedge. Add mint, parsely or basil if you'd like. Raisins, black currants and bananas are also alkaline producing. If weight loss is one of your fitness goals choose the vegetables over the fruits.
Raw greens also provide lots of minerals (especially the more bitter ones like dandelion greens), plenty of electrolytes and a dose of heat sensitive vitamins like Vitamin C.