When it comes to packing your diet with all the vitamins and minerals it needs to perform, you can’t go far wrong with making yourself a delicious post workout smoothie.
If you’re stuck for ideas on what to put in your smoothie, or are just keen to find out which ingredients will help you recover and go again, then we’ve put together some ideas for you using what we know from the nutritional science out there, along with some tasty smoothie recipes of our own.
The Pre Workout Smoothie
When it comes to your pre-workout smoothie, dropping in some coffee or matcha can really help you bring your A-game. Caffeine is an incredibly well researched performance enhancer. A study from University of Guelph, Ontario found that around 400mg of caffeine profoundly increased exercise endurance in those tested, while a separate study from Christ Church College, Canterbury, tested runners over 1500 metres and found that those who were regular coffee drinkers were 4.2 seconds faster than those who drank decaf.
And it’s not just your endurance that will feel the boost, your overall strength will too. A systematic review found caffeine to have some success especially in those bench pressing although the research isn’t as conclusive as it is when testing endurance.
However, if you’re doing more weight training then it’s advised to have something beforehand that will give you good energy for your workout. When it comes to cardio training though, most people feel more comfortable in the fasted state.
The Post Workout Smoothie
The post-workout smoothie should have recovery in mind, and really depends on how strenuous your workout has been. The more vigorous it is, the more calories you need to eat afterwards. If you are looking to add weight and grow muscle (especially through high intensity workouts or weight training) then it’ll be important to restore your glycogen stores. Here’s some good ingredients to think about adding to your post-workout smoothie recipes when making them at home.
Turmeric And Black Pepper
When we workout we put our bodies under a lot of stress, which helps make it grow stronger but also sparks some inflammation in our bodies along the way. Turmeric and it’s active compound curcumin is a really powerful anti-inflammatory so it can help combat that inflammation. Add a dash of it in your smoothies then, along with black pepper, which increases curmumin’s absorption by up to 2000 percent (both are active ingredients in our performance blend for these exact reasons).
Bananas are good for replenishing muscle glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrate in the body, as well potassium to help regulate your muscle contractions. Potassium is lost in sweat and therefore needs to be replaced after exercise. They also bulk out your smoothies, so working them into your recipes is great for making your smoothies super thick (and yummy).
If you’re not a banana fan, then tofu is a good switcheroo, making your smoothie thick and creamy just like banana would and all with an extra dose of protein.
Leafy greens like spinach, contain a lot of the essential minerals we need and are great for hiding in smoothies, because all the other ingredients usually mask it. You’ll also be able to pack more greens into a smoothie than eating it raw. The antioxidants in greens have also been shown to alleviate the effects of oxidative stress and muscle damage.
Berries are wonderful for adding vibrant colour to your smoothie creations, and it’s that colour that goes a long way to explaining why they’re so good for you. You see the brightly coloured pigments in berries are down to the high intake of anthoycyanins, a flavonoid with anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that help neutralise free radicals.
A 2012 study examined the effect of consuming regular blueberry smoothies on induced muscle soreness and found the athletes tested experienced reduced muscle soreness and faster strength recovery after drinking the blueberry smoothies compared to those who just had regular ones.
Foods that are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, like flax, chia and hemp seeds, can be a great addition to your smoothie rotation. Having good balance in your diet of omega-6 fats (sunflower oil, pumpkin seeds) to omega-3 fats is important because having the omega-6 ratio too high is highly inflammatory in our bodies.
Modern diets tend to have the ratio between omega 6 and 3 at about 20:1, whereas it’s healthiest balance exists at around 4:1, especially when it comes to cardiovascular disease and arthritis prevention. Therefore adding in plant and algae forms of omega-3 into your smoothies can make a big difference further down the line.
Ginger is a well known inflammatory, but we know about them already. There’s also research that points to it’s benefits in terms of muscle pain too. A study published in Phytotherapy Research, showed that taking ginger five days in a row appears to “accelerate the recovery of maximal strength” following a high-load weight-lifting protocol.
The five days may be the deciding factor here, as another study gave people a teaspoon of ginger before cycling, and found no difference in leg muscle pain over the 30 minutes. If we look at all the studies together, a single dose of ginger might not do much, but a teaspoon or two for a couple of weeks in a smoothie may be able to reduce muscle pain and soreness, and accelerate your recovery of muscular strength.
We’ve chosen smoothies that are a bit more indulgent for those necessary rest days.
These 24 hours are all about replenishing your body and recovery, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself. Eating plant-based means you are getting more antioxidants into your diet, and in doing so you combat exercise-induced oxidative stress more easily.
The anti-inflammatory nature of many plant foods also works to accelerate muscle repair and strength recovery. Therefore all the plants your cramming into your post-workout smoothie will allow you to kick back and enjoy yourself a little more on those rest days you gift yourself.