Why I Swear By Green Juice To Fuel My Workout
I'm a plant-based professional triathlete who specializes in Ironman and Ultraman triathlons, which means I'm training for races that last 9 to 25 hours and 140.6 to 320 miles. During my most intensive training phases, I spend between 35 and 40 hours a week swimming, biking and running.
Before, during and after those workouts, I need a whole lot of fuel. Here are five reasons green juice plays an important role in meeting that need.
1. It's a natural source of electrolytes.
One of my favorite long workouts recently is swimming about 6.2 miles. This means I'm facedown in the pool for about two and a half hours. The 100% natural electrolytes in coconut water, for example, are something I can feel good about consuming in the mass quantities I require on my longest training days.
It's easy to forget how much fluid I lose underwater in a tough workout like that, but the cramping, depleted feeling I get if I've overlooked my hydration and electrolyte intake is unmistakable. I've always got a couple of bottles of coconut water on the pool deck, as it provides the hydration, calories and electrolytes I need.
2. I can minimize my processed sugar intake during workouts.
I've learned that consistent fueling during the first hour of any longer workout is essential, and I cringe to think about what would be happening to my insides if I were fueling with traditional sports drinks! Drinking juice means I don’t have to pound sports drinks filled with processed sugars to get my electrolytes and calories.
3. It's easy and portable.
Particularly now, with fresh-pressed juices readily available at many stores, I can grab a juice to refuel immediately after a workout — even when I’m on the go. In addition to my own training and racing, I also run two businesses and am often rushing off to a meeting or jumping on a call immediately after a workout. I don’t always have time to stop at home to make myself a green shake, so convenience is key.
4. Juice is an easy way to get greens.
I’m always looking for ways to fit more leafy greens into my diet; I grind them up in my shakes and include them in my salads. (Here's my grocery shopping list in case you're curious.) Because my diet is entirely plant-based, leafy green intake is something I monitor closely — these veggies are an important source of iron for me, and maintaining my iron stores is essential to keeping my energy levels on point.
5. It's a recovery aid.
Juicing enables me to pack a large portion of my daily fruit and veggie needs into one drink. All of those vitamins and minerals are absolutely crucial to my recovery process and help me maintain a consistent, strong performance in my workouts from day to day.
I learned this lesson the hard way during my first Ultraman World Championships, a competition that involves more than 24 hours of racing over three days. I relied too heavily on traditional sports drinks and gels for fuel, and didn't take in enough "real food" over the first two days. I paid dearly for that in the second half of the race.
Three years later, when I returned to the championships and won, I had a recovery drink with coconut water and vegan protein powder the minute I crossed the finish line each day, and drank my own special coconut water, spinach and vegan protein concoction while I was cycling to make sure my body had what it needed to recover. I wholeheartedly believe that my improved fueling strategy was a major key to my overall improvement, and seriously contributed to my taking the world title in 2013.
Photo courtesy of the author
And do you want to know if you should you go Keto? Paleo? Deciding what to eat to feel your best shouldn’t be complicated. We’ve removed the guesswork to give you all the best nutrition tips & tools, all in one place. Ready to kickstart your health journey? We’re here to guide you.