One of the most popular posts on my blog is one explaining how to make nutritious smoothies – you can read it here. I thought I’d take this one step further by providing several different smoothie recipes that work well with a selection of training scenarios.
First, why make yourself a smoothie?
- Smoothie makers like the NutriBullet® (https://www.nutribullet.com/) and other brands are now widely available to buy and make it incredibly quick and easy to create a nutritious liquid meal or snack, with minimal washing up.
- You can make a smoothie at home and consume it immediately, or take it with you to drink as a pre-training snack or after a training session. Just make sure that you give it a good shake before drinking. It’s a good idea to add some ice cubes or use frozen fruit if you won’t be drinking it for a few hours and can’t keep it in a fridge or a cool bag.
- You can combine several ingredients together to create an on-the-go snack that is very nutrient dense and tailored to your nutritional needs.
- It’s easy to consume, so works well after hard training when you might not feel like eating solid food but know that you need to start your recovery as soon as possible. This is particularly useful if you are training again later that day or are training late in the evenings.
- It’s an easy way to take on extra calories between meals when you are in a hard training block and have a high-calorie requirement.
- Cow’s milk and whey protein powder have been shown in studies to be a very good way to facilitate muscle recovery after training and racing. A smoothie is a great way to consume them. If you are unable to tolerate dairy products or choose not to include them in your diet, there’s a wide range of plant-based “milks” and protein powders available to make an alternative. See my blog here to learn more about the different nutrient composition of cow’s milk and plant alternatives, as they do differ. Plant sources generally have less protein, vitamins and minerals than dairy.
Here are some smoothie suggestions for particular training scenarios:
For breakfast after an early morning training session, done fasted:
- Blend 1 banana, handful of frozen blueberries, 20g of porridge oats, 150g of Greek yoghurt and 200ml of milk or a plant alternative.
This smoothie provides 500 calories with 80g of carbs and 20-25g of protein, depending on the type of milk you use (plant alternatives have less protein than cow’s milk – soya is higher in protein than almond, coconut, rice or oat). Perfect to recover from training and set you up for a day that might include another session later.
As a snack before training (drink 30-90 mins beforehand):
- Blend a small banana, 200ml apple juice and 100g of natural yoghurt.
This smoothie gives you 275 calories with 50g carbs, enough to fuel a 60-90 minute workout, together with small amounts of protein (6g) and fat (5g).
As a recovery drink after a longer session, before having a full meal about two hours later:
- Blend 20g of whey protein powder (or a plant alternative) with a handful of frozen raspberries, 1 small banana, 1 tsp cocoa powder,1 tbsp chia seeds and 200ml of water (or more to achieve desired consistency).
This smoothie kick-starts the recovery process. It provides 275 calories with 25g of protein and 36g of carbs. The raspberries and cocoa powder give you anti-oxidants while the chia seeds add anti-inflammatory essential fats. You’ll need plenty of carbs with your following meal to continue replenishing your glycogen stores. If you don’t want to use a protein powder, have 150g of Greek yoghurt and 200ml of cow’s milk to provide 20g of protein.
As a “dessert” after your evening meal during a period of heavy training:
- Blend 2 tbsp almond or peanut butter, 250ml of full-fat milk, 1 tsp honey or maple syrup, ½ tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp cocoa powder and a handful of frozen raspberries or blueberries
This “treat” smoothie packs in 444 calories, with 21g of carbs, 28g of fat and 18g of protein. The milk contains the amino acid tryptophan which may contribute towards a good night’s sleep. The cinnamon may help to balance blood sugar during the night and the cocoa provides anti-oxidant polyphenols to support recovery. The protein and polyunsaturated fats in the nut butter also contribute towards recovery, as well as providing plenty of calories.
On a day when you are short of fruit and veg:
- Roughly chop two small pre-cooked beetroots, two carrots, a celery stick, two large handfuls of baby spinach and blend with 150ml of apple juice. Add a tsp of grated fresh ginger or ½ tsp of powdered ginger if liked.
This is a great way to up your fruit or veg intake, equating to a 2 of the 7-10 a day I recommend for endurance athletes. The different coloured vegetables all contribute different nutrients, including vitamin A from carrots, folic acid from spinach and nitrates from beetroot. This smoothie gives you 200 calories, with 48g of carbs.
I hope this blog gives you some new smoothie ideas and helps you to meet your nutritional needs around training and recovery.
Jo Scott-Dalgleish BSc (Hons) is a BANT Registered Nutritionist, writing and giving talks about nutrition for endurance sport. Based in London, she also works as a Registered Nutritional Therapist, conducting one–to–one consultations with triathletes, distance runners and cyclists to help them eat well, be healthy and perform better through the creation of an individual nutritional plan. To learn more about these consultations, please visit www.nutritionforendurancesports.co.uk