Wellness RX: Going Green To Build Muscle And Strength

Green vegetables and dark leafy food: kale swiss chard spinach collards broccoli and cabbage.

We’re going green this month, and it’s not because of St. Patrick’s Day. Ok, maybe a little bit, but before you grab that green outfit and pint glass, reach for those green veggies between workouts because they can do it all. Too often we associate stacking a diet with vegetables with losing weight, but they’re actually loaded with valuable micronutrients, fiber, minerals, amino acids, nitrates, complex carbohydrates, and phytonutrients crucial to making those strength gains.

Here are a few green muscle-building veggies that will help you maximize your energy, reduce recovery time and improve your body composition:

Leafy Greens: Spinach, Kale, Chard, Lettuce, Arugula

A 2021 study published in The Journal of Nutrition examined data from nearly 4,000 Australian participants over the course of 12 years and found that those who ate the largest amount of leafy greens turned out to have 11 percent more strength in their legs than those who didn’t. Researchers believe the nitrates found in leafy greens are behind the muscle-building boost. Your body converts nitrates into nitric oxide, which opens up your blood vessels leading to better blood flow. That blood flow delivers much-needed oxygen to your muscles allowing you to push yourself harder for longer periods of time.

Recipe we love: Arugula Polenta With Poached Eggs

Broccoli & Brussels Sprouts

We’re putting these together because they’re both brassica vegetables (as are cauliflower and cabbage), so they contain a sulfur-rich compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane is already known to activate antioxidant and anti-inflammatory responses in the body, but research conducted by a team in Italy also points to its muscle-building potential. When they took cells from pig muscle, which is very similar to humans, and exposed it to sulforaphane, it deactivated myostatin production. Myostatin is a protein that puts the brakes on muscle growth. So stock up on those crowns!

Recipe we love: Peanut Broccoli Noodles

Green Peppers

This goes for red and yellow peppers too, but we’re trying to stick to the theme. Peppers contain the highest amount of vitamin C of any vegetable. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that muscle tissue drinks up vitamin C, which helps it process carnitine, a fatty acid that’s essential to muscle recovery and growth.

Recipe we love: Spiced Steak, Green Peppers, and Rice

Peas

Whether you’re consuming them in all their green glory or as a powder, peas contain more protein than most other vegetables. They’re also full of muscle-building amino acids like branched-chain amino acids and glutamine, which can help with muscle growth, soreness and recovery.

Recipe we love: Lemon and Pea Pasta

YouFit Gyms Nutrition App

Eighty percent of staying health is about what you eat. The proper nutrition plan can help you build muscle and boost your metabolism while giving you more energy. A YouFit Gyms Premium+ membership includes a state-of-the-art meal planning app called EatLove that’s easy to use.

It provides you with a variety of personalized nutrition, meal planning, and coaching tools, so you can successfully meet your wellness and fitness goals. You can track your progress, get restaurant recommendations on-the-go, and swap out meals in the moment. It also includes 6,000+ recipes that integrate all kinds of health concerns and diets, as well as a monthly meal calendar.

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