Power Of Plants: 10 Reasons Why You Should Add Kale To Your Pre-Workout Smoothie
Kale has a nutritional CV that rivals the contents of the entire organic section of your local greengrocers, but how are its benefits linked to exercise? Keep reading to discover all.
Like all great things in life, this cruciferous vegetable takes many different forms. The leaves can be green or purple, and can either be smooth or curly, each as tasty and nutrient-rich as the next.
We know that kale can be at risk of tasting bitter by itself sometimes, but by adding a handful of the stuff to smoothies, any harsh notes will disappear. This means that you can reap its benefits without the fear of unpleasant aftertastes.
Here are some of the wonders it can perform.
1. Kale has an unprecedented nutritional CV
This green, leafy, cruciferous vegetable has the makings of a nourishing juice all by itself, so it’s no wonder that adding it into a pre-workout smoothie will leave you feeling replenished and ready to face an exercise bike or HIIT class.
Kale packs everything your body didn’t know it was missing;
- From vitamin B6, A, C and K
- To minerals such as iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, copper and potassium.
A cupful of raw kale comes in at just over 30 calories with 6 grams of carbs, two of which being fibre, 3 grams of protein and little fat; most of which is an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (the good stuff).
2. It’s perfect for short, high-intensity exercise
As gram for gram, kale contains more vitamin C than an orange, it’s great to get some in you before embarking on high-intensity exercise when a quick hit of energy is welcomed. It won’t just give your immune system’s defence a boost, but also your energy levels. An Arizona State University study showed that those with a diet supplemented with vitamin C found exercise ‘10% easier and reported a drop in overall fatigue by a gargantuan 55%’.
It should also help boost recovery time due to its antioxidant properties. It may help to reverse some of the oxidative damage that exercise can cause – so a double win in our books
3. Kale boosts stamina and endurance
Potassium, magnesium and calcium are key in endurance training. Luckily for us, significant quantities of these minerals can be found in a cupful of raw kale. According to Nutrition Science News:
- Potassium is responsible for regulating the body’s total water levels and stabilising its controlled and automatic muscle contractions. It’s easily lost through sweat and urine, so topping up before a big run is important.
- Magnesium helps your body produce adenosine triphosphate, which allows your muscles to relax after contractions as well as letting them store energy. So it’s no surprise that low magnesium levels can lead to early fatigue, nausea and muscle cramps.
- Calcium helps to ensure hormone regulation. In female athletes, a lack of calcium can affect menstruation and healthy bone formation; as well as testosterone deficiencies in male athletes, both of which can lead to osteoporosis.
Iron is the mineral we should consult if we’re trying to give our metabolisms a boost, and it just so happens that kale is a great source. Our bodies are able to absorb iron better when there’s some vitamin C involved too – kale has that box ticked too. (FYI it’s magnesium content also helps things along nicely).
A boosted metabolism can help our bodies feel the effect of a workout for longer even after we’ve stretched and showered.
5. Kale has great mood-boosting qualities
We’ve circled back to vitamin C again, but that’s just because it’s so underrated. Vitamin C helps our body generate endorphins, the feel-good, happy hormone.
Double this up with the rush of beta-endorphins that are responsible for the feel-good, satisfying post-exercise rush you feel, and workouts just got that bit, well... happier.
6. Kale is great for maintaining bone health
Calcium is key in building and maintaining healthy and strong bones, something that’s integral for protecting bones against damage caused by the effects of intensive training. Kale is one of the top plant-based sources for calcium out there, so adding it to your pre-workout routine will help reap you long-term benefits, even if you can’t feel it happening.
7. Kale has been reported to aid weight loss
As part of a well-curated diet and active exercise routine, adding this nutrient-dense and low-calorie food to your smoothies could help you lose weight faster and more effectively. Unlike some low-calorie produce, kale still packs enough significant bulk to keep you feeling full and nourished.
Foods like this are proven to aid weight loss. Not to mention it’s fibre and protein content, both of which are key to effective weight loss too.
8. Mobility and kale: the link
The old motto goes, if it’s green, it’s probably got vitamin K in it. Studies have shown that a lack of vitamin K, especially in older adult men, has a negative effect on mobility. Making it harder to be physically active, even if the mental motivation is there. Vitamin K plays a big part in blood clotting and keeping bones and cartilage mobile. So if you’d like to keep training for a long time (rather than just a good time) kale might just be your ticket.
9. Reducing heart disease with kale
One of our favourite facts about kale is that it’s great at lowering your cholesterol. Whilst cholesterol is useful for digesting fats and stopping them from being absorbed into the bloodstream, but too much of the stuff can lead to issues later down the line, like heart disease. Keeping your heart in tip-top shape can essentially keep you working out for longer,
10. Aiding digestion with kale
Because kale has such a high fibre and water content, regularly adding it to your pre-workout smoothie will aid your general digestion health. This will help prevent the discomfort that comes with bloating and things being a-bit-blocked-down-there, letting you focus on your lifting, squatting or whichever muscle group the day’s session is focussing on!
by Fabian Jackson
Fabian is one of our lovely Content Marketing Interns who loves writing almost as much as he loves coffee, old episodes of Escape to the Country (no judgement here), and cooking up a storm in his kitchen.