If you’ve been around the bodybuilding game for any length of time, then you’ve probably tried at least a few supplements in your quest to become more muscular. Unless you’re really on top of your nutrition, though, you might be missing out on an often ignored supplement that could help you build more muscle: greens. You won’t find this supplement in the usual bodybuilding catalog, but…
Let’s take a look at greens and how they might get you closer to your physique goals.
What Are Greens?
“Greens” is a catchall phrase for concentrated forms of fruits, vegetables, grasses, and certain types of algae. Formulations vary widely, but most start with desiccated (or dried out) forms of these plant-based foods that are then pulverized into powder form.
That powder is then loaded into capsules that you can swallow or offered as a mix that you can fold into your protein drinks or use to make green smoothies.
The basic advantage to greens is that a relatively small amount of the supplements can take the place of one more more servings of fruit and vegetables.
Since most experts recommend eating between 5 and 10 servings per day, it’s easy to see why greens could be more convenient for many lifters.
How Can Greens Help You?
Because greens are so convenient to consume — just pop some capsules or add some water — they can help you fill up on the nutrients that fruits and vegetables would normally provide.
Many of our most important vitamins and minerals come from the produce that we consume, and that list includes vitamin C, the B-complex vitamins (except B12), vitamin A, calcium, iron, and many others. Fruits and vegetables also supply antioxidants to help keep you safe from free radicals.
If you are deficient in any of these key nutrients, your health will suffer and there is no way you will be able to train to your full capacity.
But squeezing in all of the fruits and vegetables that you need to meet your recommended daily allowances (RDAs) of vitamins and minerals can be a tall order. Veggies, especially, take some effort to chew and swallow.
That’s why many lifters use multivitamins to cover their bases, but greens are a more natural way to fill the gaps in your diet.
At least some brands have a decent amount of fiber, too, which is important for digestive health.
Can Greens Build Muscle?
While greens contain no protein or amino acids and have no special hydrating effects like creatine does, they CAN be a valuable tool in your muscle-building arsenal.
As mentioned above, greens are a convenient way to make sure you’re getting all of the trace nutrients that you need to maintain health and perform well in the gym. And, if you fall short in nutrition you definitely won’t build the muscle mass that you’re after.
So, no, greens won’t add slabs of beef to your frame, but they can directly affect your ability to train hard and build new muscle.
When Should You Use Greens?
It makes more sense to use greens at certain times of your life, and at certain times of day, than others.
If you have trouble gaining mass and need to eat a lot of calories, including greens in your diet is a good strategy to try. Greens will boost your nutrient intake without filling you up on fruits and vegetables, leaving you the appetite to eat more of the high-calorie foods you need.
Many lifters have the opposite problem, however, and find it difficult to control their hunger and lose fat. In that case, eating more whole veggies would be better since they make you feel full but provide very few calories.
Regardless of your metabolism, greens can be useful when you’re traveling. It’s often nearly impossible to find fresh produce on the road, so keeping a container of greens handy ensures that your nutrition does not suffer too much.
In terms of when to take your greens, the best advice is to avoid them near your workout window. Because training can flood your body with free radicals, many athletes take antioxidants before or right after they lift, but that appears to be a mistake.
Recent research shows that antioxidants taken at workout time can lessen the training effect, meaning poorer overall results.
Great, But Not Food
For most lifters, most of the time, food should be the main source of nutrients for keeping us healthy and training hard.
There are plenty of circumstances, though, where getting lots of fresh, healthy produce is just not practical and when we need a boost. That’s where greens really shine.
As a convenient and potent supplement to fruits and vegetables, greens are hard to beat and can be a valuable tool in your efforts to build more muscle.