Dark Green Leafy Vegetables → The Nutrition Champion
Dark green leafy vegetables get my vote for the (very unofficial) Running Scientist Nutrition Awards in the Best Food to Prevent Stress Fractures category. If you avoid dark leafy greens – or only eat them sparingly – you are not maximizing the strength of your bones.
Bottom line: Runners need strong bones. Eat dark green leafy vegetables in abundance.
The Running Scientist’s Grocery List:
- Turnip Greens
- Mustard Greens
- Green Collards
- Swiss Chard
The Running Scientist’s Dark Leafy Greens Formula: Runners Who Consume an Abundance of Green Leafy Vegetables = Runners with Strong Bones
Dark green leafy vegetables help strengthen bones and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. The Vitamin C in dark green leafy vegetables also slows bone loss and decreases the risk of stress fractures. Without regular consumption of leafy greens, it is common for runners to lack Vitamin K. Not having enough Vitamin K may result in delayed recovery and an increased chance of injury for runners through excessive bruising, stress fractures and broken bones.
The Science: One study of a group of elite female athletes found that Vitamin K supplementation increased their bone formation markers by 15-20%. Another study suggests that Vitamin K can help reduce the rate of fractures. Stress fractures are one of the top 5 injuries to runners, so eating foods high in vitamin K – like leafy greens – is an essential preventative measure.
Injury Prevention is one of the many benefits of eating dark leafy greens
Read more about how dark green leafy vegetables help with energy levels, injury prevention, dropping body fat, resisting the chocolate chip cookies at midnight, ugly race photos, recovery, depression, forgetting your GPS watch, and post-workout rage here.
More Greens > Fewer Greens > No Greens
We are often presented with colossal food portions in a mass-consumption society. And usually, we try to practice portion control. That does not apply here. I give you the go-ahead to eat as many dark-leafy green vegetables as possible. The more, the better.
Injury-Free Runners = A Well-Balanced Nutrition Plan with Lots of Dark Green Veggies + Training Intelligently
Eating lots of green leafy vegetables does not replace an unstructured training approach. I recommend that all runners invest in a customized run training plan. Train intelligently AND make dark green leafy veggies the core of your nutritional fuel before and after running.
You will only stay injury-free if you train intelligently, no matter how well you eat.