I probably don't need to beat around the bush here... I am such a big smoothie fan. Smoothies are an easy way to pack in tons of nutrients without having to cook. Personally, I find smoothies work best in the morning, post workout. You can put adequate amounts of protein in your smoothie without the extra fat and carbohydrates. You can also add in fiber sources you wouldn't normally use in meals such as chia or flax seeds. Smoothies allow you to get creative without making a mess in the kitchen. They are also handy when you're crunched for time and need to consume something on-the-go. I could continue my list as to why smoothies are a solid breakfast choice but I think you get the picture!
However, my favorite reason to consume smoothies in the morning, post-workout is because of the ingredients that support optimal recovery. I mentioned protein as one ingredient; but you can add in varieties of fruits that are high in antioxidants or support lowering inflammation. You can make your smoothies as high or low carb as your physical activity and lifestyle need.
There are four major parts to each smoothie that must be present to support and enhance your recovery:
Protein: Protein helps rebuild torn muscle fibers post workout. While you're in the gym, you're tearing your muscles down and it is your protein source that will rebuild + strengthen them. Protein is (in my opinion) the most important part of your smoothie.
Fat: This macronutrient is vital to sustain life. You cannot cut fat entirely out of your diet because your body functions will simply stop working. A reasonable amount of dietary fat can keep you fuller for longer. This will actually help you eat less because your satiety will be high.
Fiber: Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is not stored as glycogen; therefore it will not spike your blood sugar the same way other carbohydrates will. Fiber aids in digestion and typically is found in fruits and vegetables that contain tons of vitamins and minerals. These micronutrients will decrease inflammation, fight free radicals, keep your skin and hair healthy, decrease joint pain, keep your vision sharp, and so much more.
Micronutrients (greens): Greens provide bulk in your smoothie without the extra calories! Kale and spinach are my favorite to add into smoothies as they don't have a distinct taste. Fun fact, these greens are also high in calcium which build strong bones and teeth!
It is important to note a few additional "rules" to follow so your smoothie doesn't end up too high in sugar or calories.
Use only one serving of fruit per smoothie. I say this because fruit is the only food that contains the sugar fructose; fructose will not only spike you blood sugar but it is also only metabolized by the liver as fat. Too much fruit can increase fat storage and spike insulin release. Fruit has many benefits so variety and moderation is key!
Be sure to watch how much fat you put in your smoothie. One gram of fat clocks in nine calories; compared to protein and carbs at four calories. This basically means a little goes a long way! A great rule of thumb is to stick to one to two tablespoons per smoothie.
In terms of which protein powder is best; it comes down to what you digest the easiest. If you have never experienced bloating or stomach cramps with any protein, the best protein would be whey. Whey has all the essential amino acids especially the most important one, leucine. Leucine is a major component that rebuilds damaged muscle tissue (recovery!).If you are dairy-intolerant, there are other protein powders such as pea, egg white, and soy.
Now that you know the smoothie formula, let's dive into my favorite recipes and why I use them post-workout recovery!
Peaches N' Cream Smoothie
Peach Cobbler Whey Protein: provides 20 grams of protein including all the essential amino acids that repair and rebuild lean muscle tissue.
Chia Seeds: my favorite form of fiber! You don't need a ton of chia seeds to reap many benefits; they contain fat and protein as well.
Peaches: are very high in polyphenols which decrease inflammation. This can also help decrease the risk of chronic diseases.
Lemon Meringue Pie Smoothie
Bowmar Nutrition Egg White Protein - Lemon Pound Cake: This is a protein powder that is both dairy free, soy free, pea free, and provides all the essential amino acids! I love using egg white protein powder because of the consistency of the shake. It becomes fluffy and filling. This flavor is also incredible.
Lemon Juice: People claim "lemon water" in the morning aids in digestion. Well, who's to say you need it first thing? Lemon juice has digestive enzymes that aid in digesting the food you eat. The pectin will also keep you fuller for longer!
Banana: Provides simple carbohydrates which can refuel your glycogen stores after a long run. I love tossing a banana into my shake because I know I'll have enough energy to last throughout my afternoon!
Triple C (Chocolate Collagen Coconut)
Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides: Collagen is a type of protein that specifically helps grow hair skin and nails but also surrounds of joints. By consuming collagen, you can decrease joint inflammation and recover faster.
Coconut Milk Yogurt: The probiotics found in this yogurt will help aid in digestion and support your immune system.
Life Greens - Chocolate Greens Powder: This is an easy way to consume all your greens! Since smoothies typically use protein and fruits, adding in a greens powder is extremely beneficial to get all of the vitamins and minerals greens contain without having to actually put them in your smoothie.
Orange Creamsicle Smoothie
Oranges: One fruit provides your daily dosage of Vitamin C! Vitamin C is extremely important for immune health; so after a long run outside in any climate, adding in an orange post workout with keep your health in check.
Chia Seeds: Contains protein (3 grams of complete protein), fat (anti-inflammatory fat to promote recovery post workout) and carbs (fiber which aids in digestion). Chia seeds are also loaded with iron which carries oxygen throughout your body. If you're low in iron, you'll be extremely fatigued.
Blueberry Banana Smoothie
Blueberries: The polyphenols in blueberries help protect cells from damage as well as reduce muscle pain and inflammation. Adding these to your protein smoothie will benefit those who experience frequent tightness and soreness.
Spirulina: This is a powerful algae! It contains a protein called Phycocyanin which has major pain-relieving properties. This protein also reduces the absorption of cholesterol in which supports heart health. Adding spiraling in your smoothie will aid in muscle pain and may be of interest to those who don't partake in much cardio (because of its' heart health properties.
Banana: Bananas get bad attention because of the sugar and calories. Well, I'm here to tell you bananas are phenomenal to eat for exercise recovery. They will restore the carbohydrates you burned during exercise and the potassium content will re-hydrate you!
Four Sigmatic Mushroom Elixir: Lion's mane is the dominant mushroom in this powdered packet. Lion's mane is a huge superfood promoting brain health; it helps fight dementia, keeps you focused, and even reduces anxiety. Why can this help you recover after a workout? I love adding this in when I am jumping right into work after the gym. It decreases distractions and I don't feel that overwhelming feeling caused by busy schedules.
Powdered PB2: As you can see, this protein shake clocks in 450 calories. I decided to use dehydrated nut butter (PB2 protein powder) to decrease the amount of fat while still increasing protein. PB2 is a great hack when you are watching your fat intake or you know you have other sources of fat present in your smoothie.
Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie
Strawberries: Strawberries are lighter in calorie than most fruits. The red color contains a pigment called anthocyanin which help burn stored body fat.
Legion Whey Protein: This protein powder is a protein isolate; which means it has been processed so much to strip fat and carbs from the whey. It is typically more pricier; but I recommend this protein if you have trouble digesting typical whey powders(whey concentrate).
PB & J Smoothie
Grapes: You've probably heard that red wine has a high antioxidant count? This is actually from the grapes! The antioxidants in grapes help reduce inflammation post workout and improve muscle recovery.
Chike Protein Coffee- Peanut Butter Chocolate: This protein has a bit of caffeine in it. Caffeine can aid in post workout recovery because of increasing the speed of glycogen. After your workout, consuming a bit of coffee will not only provide you with energy for the rest of the day but it will specifically refuel your muscles.
Apple Pie Smoothie
Apples: As they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away!
Cinnamon: Cinnamon is known to help regulate blood sugar! It mimics our hormone (insulin) that converts the energy (calories) we eat. This is very beneficial as we convert our food into energy for workouts and longer bouts of movement.
Oatmeal: Is a great source of whole grains which will replenish glycogen stores! After a tough run or workout, you want to be energized throughout the day so replacing burned carbs will help with recovery.
Peanut Butter Oat Smoothie
Peanut Butter: This is a fat source that is also high in protein! Additional protein will help build lean muscle tissue post workout. Peanut butter is also helpful when your protein powder is a vegan source; combining these protein sources will make it a complete protein (versus just vegan protein powder as an incomplete protein source).
Life Greens: I reference Lifetime's Life Greens many times in these recipes. These greens aid in both digestion and immune health through the power of plants. The vegetables and fruit are freeze dried and pack in tons of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and pre/probiotics!
You now have 10 recipes that promote muscle growth, reduce inflammation, aid in digestive health and support immunity. If you are interested in personalizing your nutrition with extra support and guidance catered to your body, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started on your nutrition consults today. These consults have helped every single client of mine to lose weight, build lean muscle and change their entire life without feeling deprived.