Dave Scott is a six-time World Ironman Triathlon Champion. He won all of those six championships while strictly enforcing a vegetarian diet.
Dave, in fact, loved his veggies so much that his book, entitled Dave Scott’s Triathlon Training, put emphasis on eating green leafy vegetables for optimal endurance.
In another continent – and in a rather different context – Kenyans got the energy they need to get through the many challenges of the East African landscape by feeding on fresh and cheap meals filled with green leafy vegetables. Their favorites: kale, spinach, and cabbage.
They also loved avocados, but that’s a different story.
And then there’s Popeye who really is a great example of no holds barred manliness.
What Dave, the Kenyans, and Popeye teach us is that, it doesn’t matter whether you’re training for a big sporting event, or you’re just the average guy going through life’s many challenges.
Or maybe you just want to use your muscles to overcome obstacles in a bid to please your Olive Oyl…
If you want your virility, energy, and endurance to skyrocket, you better be eating green leafy vegetables.
The Healthiest Source of Vitamins and Minerals
Green leafy vegetables contain vitamins and minerals in bulk. In fact, there’s no other food on earth that compares to leafy greens when it comes to nutrition per calorie ratio.
That means you get a large dose of the following nutrients minus the calories:
▪ Vitamins A, C, E, K, as well as a number of B vitamins;
▪ Calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium;
▪ Fiber; and
All in the Leaves
There are quite a number of green leafy vegetables, but they basically fall under two categories: Brassica and Amaranth.
Brassica (or cruciferous) vegetables refer to broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, as well as the leaves of some root vegetables such as turnip, radish, and horseradish.
Amaranths meanwhile are your beets, spinach, and chards.
Take note, we’re talking about leaves here, so those grain-like seeds commonly referred to as “amaranth” don’t count.
I say you avoid those seeds in whatever context. They are as carb-heavy as rice and other grains; a serving of amaranth will surely spike your insulin in an instant, stopping fat metabolism while encouraging fat storage.
Eat Green to be Lean and Clean
The USDA may have made mistakes when it comes to their recommendations regarding carbohydrates and fats, but they definitely got it right when it comes to classifying green vegetables under “foods and nutrients to increase”.
And why not? These veggies pack a punch when it comes to upgrading your manliness:
1. Increase Testosterone Naturally. Vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as Magnesium and Zinc, all help your body produce testosterone.
These vitamins and minerals take part in a number of biological processes that work to raise your testosterone levels. These processes include the breaking down of estrogen, lowering of stress hormone cortisol (high levels of cortisol blocks testosterone), and enhancing endocrine system function (particularly your testes’ ability for testosterone synthesis).
2. Break Down Estrogen. Cruciferous vegetables are anti-estrogenic. When chewed, they aid in the release of a compound called indole 3 carbinole (I3C). I3C is converted into DIM (di-indollyl methane) once it gets to the stomach.
DIM is responsible for converting estrogen into safer forms, helping women prevent breast cancer and helping you lose those unsightly man boobs.
Since estrogen blocks the production of testosterone, I3C’s action of breaking estrogen helps your body gear up for testosterone production.
3. Promote a Healthy Gut. A healthy gut plays an important role in the fat loss process. This is because a healthy gut flora prevents fat storage via hormonal regulation.
Good bacteria in your gut creates a protein called Fasting Induced Adipose factor (FIAF). FIAF is read by your cells as a signal to “stop storing fat”.
To maximize the effect of FIAF in your body, you need to remember two things. First, FIAF is only released when food sources, particularly simple sugars, are scarce. Second, only a diverse and healthy gut flora can efficiently create FIAF.
4. Enhance Immunity. Green leafy vegetables are associated with lower risk of cancers as well as other major chronic disease and cardiovascular disease. This is due to the high amounts of carotenoids, glucosinoates (such as sulforaphane), and indoles.
A Note on Green Leafy Vegetables and Thyroid Problems
Although cruciferous vegetables are generally healthy, there have been discussions that link these leafy greens to hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer.
For instance, the high amounts of natural goitrogens found in cruciferous vegetables is associated with hypothyroidism, a condition which is also related to obesity.
Natural goitrogens interrupt thyroid hormone synthesis and enlarge the thyroid gland, eventually leading to hypothyroidism.
Does this mean you should fear green leafy vegetables for their possible effects to your thyroid?
Unless you are iodine deficient, the answer is NO. The effects of natural goitrogens to your thyroid is so insignificant, that it would take a hell of a lot of green veggies before you cause your thyroid harm.
What about thyroid cancer? Green leafy vegetables contain moderate to high amounts of nitrates, and nitrates play a big role in the development thyroid cancer.
So, should you avoid green leafy vegetables to prevent thyroid cancer?
The answer, again, is a resounding NO. Unless you are consuming vegetables that are loaded with nitrate fertilizers, that is.
Organic vegetables do contain nitrates albeit only in safe amounts, so when you’re eating vegetables, try to go for the organic variety when you can.
That said, make sure to check where your vegetables are coming from. Whatever your goals are, whether you want to lose weight, lose man boobs, boost testosterone, or improve your health in general, you would get far better results if you stuck to organic produce only.
To wrap up, at the risk of sounding like your Ma and Grandma…
You better eat your greens kid. They will make you healthy.
When preparing them, just make sure to limit heat exposure so as not to denigrate the important compounds in these nutrient-rich veggies.
Light steaming is my best pick for maximum nutrient retention.
Stir frying is also an option, but make sure to add the veggies only when you’re about to finish cooking to minimize heat exposure. Don’t wait for the vegetables to be soggy. Soggy veggies are devoid of both flavor and nutritional content.
Blanching is another option, but again, don’t overcook your veggies. Water can leach the vital nutrients from the vegetables; heat your vegetables up a second too long and you’re bound to lose a lot of nutrients in the process.
And as always, I would love to hear from you.
Post your comments and/or questions in the comments section below and let’s talk about green leafy vegetables.
Enjoy your green leafy vegetables!