Performance Nutritionist Nigel Mitchell explains the benefits of performance greens and how he uses them in athletes' nutrition plans.
One of the challenges of both busy people and athletes is how to balance work and life while still maintaining all the essential nutrients that we get from plant-based foods. Over the last few years, there has been an increase in the understanding of the health benefits provided by plants. The problem is including a sufficient variety of fresh plant foods in a diet to make a difference.
With athletes, I often see that when they are in hard training, one of the areas that starts to be compromised is the quality of their diet. It is not because they do not care or appreciate good nutrition; they're simply over-capacity and so tend to just go for a jar of pasta sauce and pasta.
Filling the diet gaps
Apart from employing your own personal chef, one solution I believe can help is incorporating performance greens. I have used these types of products for over 10 years with many athletes, both elite and recreational.
The new Elite Performance Greens supplement marks the next generation in these nutrition products. It contains all the great green extracts such as spirulina, kale, spinach and broccoli, along with Actazin® kiwi fruit powder and pomegranate.
The Actazin® is a great addition, as this ingredient really helps with protein digestion. One of the things I like about these ingredients is that they are all derived from real foods, which are just pressed and freeze-dried to maintain the quality of the natural nutrients.
"Performance Greens are an effective way of receiving a concentrated form of essential nutrients, which can aid recovery."
Kat Darry, All Blacks Nutritionist
There are many potential benefits to performance greens.
Gut health and function
When I first started to use greens products, it was mainly around supporting gut health. My rationale then was to try to balance the potential negative effects of all the low-pH acidic foods that athletes consume. The very fact they tend to eat more protein increases amino acids, which, as the name suggests, are acidic.
The addition of the Actazin® has the potential to further increase greens' ability to support the gut. Not only does it help protein digestion, but it also provides prebiotics: the vital food for the 'friendly' bacteria in the gut.
Providing phytonutrients in a diet lacking in nutrients
As previously mentioned, athletes' diets can be energy-rich but lacking in nutrients. I would never recommend using products over real food, but supplements such as Elite Performance Greens can be a useful addition.
For example, an athlete may be following a low-residue plan; a practice that is followed for a few days to reduce bulk in the bowel. This kind of diet plan tends to be very low in fruit and vegetables. When I have worked with athletes following a low-residue plan, I have always advised fresh vegetable juice and performance greens to compensate.
My work involves significant travel, and it is always difficult to ensure I'm eating enough adequate-quality food. I personally use performance greens; I feel that they help me to feel less bloated and sluggish when travelling.
"Greens powder is a great product for a cyclist to have while travelling and competing in different countries, where micronutrient intake may be more limited than usual for a variety of reasons."
Georgina Impson-Davey, Lead Performance Nutritionist, British Cycling
Sustainability and peace of mind
Like many today, I am concerned with how much plastic is used in nutrition products. The new Elite Performance Greens are packaged in a plastic-free wrapper that is more sustainable. As with all Elite products, Performance Greens are Informed Sport-approved to make sure they are free of substances banned for competing athletes.