Your grandma was really on to something when she’d tell you to eat your veggies. Vegetables and fruits contain loads of micronutrients, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fiber which pack a powerful punch.
For example, veggies and fruits help the body:
- Prevent malnutrition and deficiencies (vitamins & minerals)
- Reduce risk for cancer, diabetes, and heart disease (phytonutrients)
- Reduce free-radical damage (antioxidants)
- Balance dietary acids from proteins and grains (alkaline quality) which also reduces osteoporosis risk
- Improve blood sugar control, reduces appetite, increases digestive health (fiber)
HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH
To gain the most benefit, your goal should be to consume 8-12 servings of veggies and fruit daily. If you are not currently crushing the veggie game, it’s best to start with 4-6 servings a day for a week, then increase a serving per week until reaching your ultimate daily goal.
A serving size is considered to be:
- 1 cup raw leafy greens
- ½ c chopped veggie or fruit
- 85 g (get a food scale!)
- 1 medium sized fruit
Fruits are great sources of fiber, antioxidants and micronutrients, however they also contain high levels of sugar. If you’re interested in fat loss, you will want to eat more veggies than fruit, keeping a ratio of 5:1. If you’re interested in muscle gain or to support performance, you may have a 3:1 veggie to fruit ratio.
Hitting your veggie goal can seem a bit overwhelming at first, especially if you aren’t accustomed to so many greens. To ensure you hit your veggie goal, aim to include at least 2 servings per meal.
Check out this daily example
- 1 cup of diced green and red peppers + 1 handful spinach with breakfast omelette (3 servings)
- ½ cup berries with morning snack (1 serving)
- 1 cup spinach, ½ c tomato, ½ medium avocado with lunch salad (2.5 servings)
- 190 grams (approx 1 cup) chopped celery and cucumbers with PM snack (2 servings)
- 1 cup chopped brussels sprouts with dinner (2 servings)
Notice any uncomfortable gas or bloating with your increase of veggie intake? That is pretty normal while your body adjusts to the increase of fiber. Try steaming your veggies to ease discomfort. If that doesn’t help, notice which veggies cause more bloating and try replacing them for other options.
PREPERATION AND CONSUMPTION
When deciding how to prepare your veggies, you’ve got tons of options. You can eat them raw, steamed, roasted (MY FAVORITE), stir-fried, and sautéed.
Juicing and smoothies can also be a source for veggies, however it’s best to to stick with whole food options.
When juiced, all the fiber from the fruit and veg is removed. This means that the sugars from fruits and veg will hit your bloodstream immediately since there is no fiber to slow down their digestion. A spike in blood-sugar will then result in an insulin reaction, something we aim to limit.
Smoothies are a better option because they include the whole fruit and veg (fiber included.) However, keep in mind when we blend our food, we remove the need to chew and speed up the digestion process. The issue then becomes a possible shorter period of satiation (feeling full), making us hungry sooner.
Additionally, by blending the food the nutrients are more bioavailable. Our bodies are able to absorb more of the fruit and veg macronutrients which also means we absorb more calories from the same amount of food.
If choosing a smoothie source, opt to have it alongside a whole food to help keep you feeling fuller longer.
Finally, you may supplement your veggie intake with a vegetable powder. This is a great option if you have limited access to fresh veggies, for travel days, or when you’ve realized you haven’t hit your daily servings.
THE PERFECT ROASTED VEG
- Preheat oven to 400
- Rinse and trim veggies
- Cover with 1 T olive or avocado oil
- Sprinkle with pink salt and pepper to liking
- Roast for 15 min, stirring halfway
- Broil for 3 min to crisp.
- Veggies should be vibrant in color and al dente
GREEN DRINK SMOOTHIE
- 3 ice cubes
- ½ c almond milk
- 1 c leafy greens (spinach or kale)
- 1 stalk celery
- ¼ cucumber
- ½ medium avocado
- ½ fresh squeezed lemon
- ½ T fresh ginger
- Optional: add MTC oil, seeds, protein powders