Hi, I'm Sam, I enjoy writing about nutrition and health-related topics, especially alternative and plant-based remedies.
Looking for that additional boost
Dedicated runners and athletes have always been looking for the next big supplement, he next thing that can help them improve their performance. There are lots of products on the market that runners, football players, tennis pros, etc. can take to build muscle and improve their speed, but very few are safe to take.
Sports and supplements a difficult relationship
Almost every supplement has a number of negative side effects that make them dangerous to take, especially for a long period of time. Steroids, for example, can help a person quickly build muscle mass, but they also seriously interfere with the body’s natural hormone production process and can even cause severe behavior changes.
In addition to the revelation that many of the most common supplements have negative side effects or, otherwise, don’t have any actual effect, the trend towards fewer chemicals and more natural solutions has left many athletes without a clear place to turn if they want to both improve their performance and actually take care of their bodies. Many athletes have turned to wheatgrass as a solution to these problems.
If you’ve gone into your local juice shop recently, you’ve probable been asked if you want to add a shot of wheatgrass to your drink. It seems to be the newest craze on the health scene, but unlike the grapefruit diet or Atkins, it hasn’t silently faded into the background. It’s stuck around and is being used especially by people for detox and its reported health and nutritional benefits. But does it actually have any benefits for athletes and runners, specifically? What exactly is wheatgrass? And is it even safe to drink?
Wheatgrass and Sports
Early on in wheatgrass’s stint in the health food world, it was pinpointed as a superfood. A superfood, in contrast to regular food, is supposed to be extremely nutrient rich and provide a wide variety of nutrients, in a much higher concentration than other foods. Because many athletes try to eat as clean as possible, but need massive amounts of calories and nutrients in order to fuel their bodies, superfoods have become extremely popular with professional athletes.
This is perhaps one of the reasons why wheatgrass has become a mainstay of many athlete’s diets. Wheatgrass is supposedly extremely high in some of the most vital vitamins, ranging from A to K, which are supposed to not only help fuel the body, but prevent injury and help the body heal more quickly in the case of an injury. Wheatgrass and sports, for some athletes, are inextricably linked, making it, by far, one of the most popular “natural” supplements.
Many websites recommend a steady diet of wheatgrass and even sell wheatgrass lotions and balms, which are supposed to help quell bleeding and repair skin, leading to a faster recovery for the athlete. Because a single injury, even something that seems as mild as an ankle sprain, can bench an athlete for an entire season, these individuals are always looking for a way to heal faster, especially form more traumatic injuries.
The most frequent users of wheatgrass are a very special brand of athlete, the runner.
Wheatgrass Shots for Runners
If you know someone who is an avid runner, you may have seen them take a wheatgrass shot before running. This is a concentrated shot of wheatgrass juice that is supposed to give the body energy and speed up the detox process. Specifically, it is rich in vitamins A, C, E, K and even the eight B vitamins, as well as amino acids and chlorophyll. The vitamins and minerals are purported to provide energy, while the amino acids (which are used by the body to build proteins), and the chlorophyll are used to prevent injury and to quickly heal the body after injury.
In the case of an injury, for example, the body requires an influx of amino acids to repair the muscle or skin that has been torn. Chlorophyll, on the other hand, some people believe, can actually increase oxygen saturation in your blood. Why is that important for runners? Because during a run, a person’s muscles require extreme amount of oxygen in order to continue powering that person forward. They use the oxygen to create energy, along with many other chemicals in the muscle tissue. Higher oxygen levels means more efficient energy production, which means more energy and over a longer period of time.
If wheatgrass actually provides these benefits, it’s no wonder why many people believe wheatgrass shots for runners are a good thing. But the big questions is, does wheatgrass work?
Does a wheatgrass shot Work?
Research and literature on wheatgrass benefits is spotty. Most of the evidence for wheatgrass is anecdotal, and while there is nothing wrong with anecdotal evidence, there are not yet any clinical trials to verify whether or not the high levels of chlorophyll in wheatgrass actually increase oxygen saturation levels, for example.
There are clinical studies, however, to support its antioxidant and detoxifying effects, which is good news for the runner who wants to stay in fighting condition. Wheatgrass has a high concentration of gallic acid, which in laboratory tests, has shown to prevent cancer cells from reproducing or growing. While many runners might not be worried about cancer any time soon, those same antioxidants can also help to prevent inflammation, which is something that most runners have to worry about.
Taking a wheatgrass shot before running may help to prevent, or at least reduce, swelling and inflammation that is an unfortunate but real part of every runner’s routine. So while the jury is still out on whether or not wheatgrass can actually give you more energy, it’s no secret that it does pack a serious nutritional punch. One of the reasons wheatgrass has become so popular is because it is so nutritionally dense, allowing athletes to get a concentrated shot of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they need to stay healthy and fit, in one small package.
If you are looking for a supplement that instantly improves your speed and increases the distance of your runs, wheatgrass is not the supplement for you. If you are looking for a supplement that helps you fortify your system and gives you a jump start on your daily vitamin and mineral intake, which can make your muscles and bones strong and more capable of running longer distances, more quickly, then wheatgrass should definitely be a part of your diet.
Wheatgrass and sports conclusion
Just eating a piece of wheatgrass is going to taste like, well, grass. That’s what it is. Most people prefer wheatgrass juice over just eating a handful of the grass itself. Those who are new to wheatgrass are sometimes put off by the concept of drinking a juice made from grass, but many find the benefits to outweigh the strangeness.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2015 Sam Shepards
Sam Shepards (author) from Europe on June 11, 2017:
Thank you, I hope it helps sports and superfood enthousiasts.
Arai from India on November 18, 2016:
Excellent article, a natural an herbal treat that everyone can manage.