If you’re a fan of social media then you’ll be no stranger to the current smoothie craze and it's associated hashtags. I for one am a huge fan of this craze and have been enjoying the culinary prowess of my Nutri-bullet purchase for quite some time now!
From a Sports Nutrition point of view, smoothies can be one of the easiest ways to meet all of your recovery goals in one glass. However, other food combinations (if you get them right) will be just as good too! I have recently just started my second round of an interval training programme that involves both cardio and resistance work and I love it. But, it’s also hard and I get sore but it’s all totally worth it because like I said, I love it!
As the class I have committed to runs between mealtimes, I have been returning home to enjoy a delectable recovery smoothie containing both protein and carbohydrates to optimise muscle repair and growth and to ensure I have plenty of energy in my muscles ready for subsequent trainings! The key point here is timing. If my class was closer to lunch, I could skip the recovery smoothie and simply head straight home to enjoy a lunch packed with vegetables, complex carbohydrates and protein and the nutrients contained in the meal would do the same thing. I would probably even get more carbohydrates here than in my smoothie depending upon what I had for lunch. However, I’m not much of a fan of eating my lunch mid-morning so a recovery smoothie is the perfect vehicle to ensure delivery of nutrients when my body needs them most and it also allows me to wait a few hours before enjoying lunch!
The 'Window of Opportunity' is the time immediately post-training when your body has an enhanced ability to use the nutrients you feed it (specifically protein & carbohydrates) to repair muscle and promote muscle protein synthesis (i.e. build lean tissue) and to restore glycogen levels (i.e. your stored energy).
I have popped two of my favourite recovery smoothies below - they are simple and are perfect for active folk who would like to work on maximising their recovery post-exercise. I have chosen to add protein powder because research has shown that including 20-30g of protein (which provides about 9g of essential amino acids) helps to optimise muscle protein synthesis during the post-exercise ‘Window of Opportunity’. Without it, it can be a little more difficult to reach that target but totally doable. I just like the convenience of the protein as I’m often rushing from the gym to the office!
Recovery needs for endurance athletes or anyone undertaking a high training load are slightly more complex and are based on training load and body weight.
If you’re training for an endurance or specific event and aren’t quite sure what you should be eating to maximise training adaptations, I can certainly help! To enquire about a sports nutrition plan specific to your training schedule and/or event, please firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re doing all of that hard work, it’s important to make sure you’re maximising the benefits!
Banana & Peanut Butter Recovery Smoothie
1 cup water or milk (NB: milk will provide more much needed carbohydrates for anyone who has been undertaking a longer or more intense session)
1 large banana
1 Tbspn peanut butter
1 serve good quality whey or pea protein (I use NuZest Vanilla) - to provide 20-30g protein
1 Tbspn cacao powder – optional
Blend all of the ingredients until smooth and creamy
Banana Berry Recovery Smoothie
1 cup water or milk (again milk will provide more much needed carbohydrates for anyone who has been undertaking a longer or more intense session)