You’ve finished a great run. You’re tired and sweaty. Chances are you’re not ready to dive into a heavy meal and all you really want is a cold beer and a hot shower. But you know that what you need to do is refuel your body. One of the best and easiest ways to do that is to blend up a healthy smoothie. Smoothies are a great choice for adding carbs and protein that you need to promote muscle repair. Get your blender and let’s go.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that what you need is a high calorie smoothie from the local coffee shop or smoothie bar. While the convenience and taste may be great all you’re really doing is increasing your calorie intake and decreasing the contents of your wallet. Don’t believe it? Check the calorie content, those options can top 900 or 1,000 calories. Instead, toss your own healthy ingredients into the blender. You can blend your own choice of ingredients and flavors and enjoy a smoothie with less than 300 calories.
Here are some tips for making great smoothies.
First, put the ingredients in the right order. Liquids first, followed by soft easily blend-able stuff. Then add the frozen items. Anything that might be sticky should go in after your initial round of blending. Don’t water down your smoothie. Instead use frozen fruit to thicken it up and cool it down.
For the liquid, start with about a cup of fat-free milk. Studies show that drinking fat-free milk following your workout will promote muscle gain and fat loss. You can also use water (sparkling or not) or fruit juice. But remember that fruit juice is higher in sugar content than the actual fruit.
Always plan to make and drink your smoothie right away. They won’t store well. For one thing, if you add yogurt to your smoothie, it will separate.
Next add some protein and fat. Perhaps a tablespoon of nut butter or seeds. One serving of protein, like a half cup of soybeans is a good amount. Other things to add are things like Ricotta cheese which contains whey protein; soft tofu will add soy protein and help with the consistency; or Greek yogurt which has twice the protein of regular yogurt.
Don’t be afraid to sweeten it up. Add a cup of produce like berries, mango, kale or tomato. And remember that frozen produce is just as healthy as fresh. That allows you to make your smoothies cold without using ice.
Considering adding things like 100% pomegranate juice, the nutrients will ease muscle soreness. Frozen fruit, especially berries, contain much needed antioxidants. The Beta-carotene in pumpkin puree helps with immunity and vision.
For additional spices and sweeteners remember that honey and other sugars are low in nutrients. Try to limit this to no more than a teaspoon. If you like, add ¼ teaspoon of ground spices like nutmeg or ginger. The spices will strengthen the flavor, but do so without adding calories. Add cocoa powder (natural or raw) which adds flavor and also contains antioxidants, but no calories.
Good choices for adding fat include almond butter which has calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. This contributes to bone strength. Ground flaxseed adds a healthy dose of an omega-3 fat. Likewise, walnuts are good for the heart, have omega-3 fats and contain magnesium for your muscles.
Other things you can include for added benefit include coconut water. Coconut water is low in calories, but contains plenty of the electrolyte potassium which you lose when you sweat. Coffee will help speed up the glycogen replacement. Wheat germ is the part of the wheat kernel that provides the most vitamins and nutrients.
Our Perfect Purple Detox Smoothie contains coconut water, try it.
Here is a recipe to try specifically for refueling at your run.
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup coffee (cooled)
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon almond butter
- 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 frozen banana
357 calories, 11g fat, 49g carbs, 5g fiber, 23g protein
As long as you pay attention to the calories and nutrient content of the ingredients, there’s no end to the type of delicious, but healthy smoothies you can make.