Leafy greens (spinach, kale, arugula)

Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and arugula, are nutrient-dense vegetables that offer numerous health benefits for cyclists. They are low in calories but packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, making them an essential part of a well-balanced diet.

Leafy greens are vegetables that have edible leaves and are typically consumed raw, cooked, or juiced. They are known for their high nutrient content and their versatility in various culinary applications.

Leafy Greens

List of leafy green variants:
  • Spinach
  • Kale (curly, lacinato, red)
  • Arugula
  • Swiss chard
  • Collard greens
  • Mustard greens
  • Beet greens
  • Turnip greens
  • Watercress
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Butter lettuce
  • Dandelion greens
  • Endive
  • Radicchio
Benefits for the cyclist:
  • Rich in vitamins, particularly vitamins A, C, and K, which support immune function, collagen production, and bone health
  • Excellent source of minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium
  • Contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can aid in recovery and overall health
  • High in dietary fiber, which promotes digestive health and satiety
  • Low in calories, making them a nutrient-dense addition to a cyclist's diet
  • Provide hydration due to their high water content
Energy value:

Leafy greens are very low in calories. A 1-cup (30-100g) serving of raw leafy greens contains approximately 5-25 kcal, with 1-3g of carbohydrates, 0-1g of protein, and negligible fat.

When to eat:
  • Before the ride: Consuming leafy greens as part of a balanced meal 2-3 hours before a ride can provide essential nutrients and help with hydration.
  • After the ride: Including leafy greens in post-ride meals can contribute to recovery by providing antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
  • As a regular part of the diet: Incorporating leafy greens into daily meals supports overall health and well-being.
Other tips:
  • Wash leafy greens thoroughly to remove dirt and potential contaminants.
  • Mix a variety of leafy greens to benefit from their unique nutrient profiles.
  • Use leafy greens as a base for salads, sandwiches, or wraps.
  • Add chopped leafy greens to smoothies for a nutrient boost.
  • Lightly sauté or steam leafy greens to make them more tender and easier to digest.
  • Pair leafy greens with a source of healthy fat (e.g., olive oil, avocado) to enhance nutrient absorption.

Leafy greens are a nutrient-dense and low-calorie addition to a cyclist's diet, providing essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. By incorporating a variety of leafy greens into their regular meals and snacks, cyclists can support their overall health, recovery, and performance. As with any food, it's important to consider individual dietary needs and preferences when including leafy greens in a meal plan.