My Post-Workout Protein Smoothie
One of the best feelings after finishing a workout is sitting down to a big, cold, protein smoothie. Eating within 45 minutes of my workout is pretty important to me. Everyone has their sweet spot, but I find that when I surpass the 45-mark, I become what I call “hangry” which no one likes. A protein smoothie has become my go-to, especially now that I’ve dived into my half marathon training.
This Is More Than A Recipe Post
I have been blessed with education around healthy food and nutrition around exercise. Though I am not a nutritionist or anything like that, the information is out there. It scares me how blind our society is to the problems around conventional “protein powders” and “weight loss shakes”, when it is so simple to nourish your body with whole foods. I am writing this article (and including a recipe) to hopefully make more people aware of the value in filling our bodies with real food. Take it with a grain of salt, make changes if you feel called, and stick with me- the information is interesting!
What Happens To Your Body After You Work Out?
After a workout, your body attempts to repair and rebuild the proteins in your muscles. It will also naturally try to rebuild it’s glycogen store. This is why it is so important to refuel properly shortly after a workout. When you consume the proper nutrients post-workout, your muscles will be given the opportunity to grow and you will find yourself with energy to carry on the rest of your day once again.
Let’s Talk About Those “Proper Nutrients”
There is such a misconception amongst carbs—they get so much undeserved crap. Carbs keep our brains healthy and boost energy. Thus, that “glycogen store” that your body will want to fill up after a workout will need carbs. Now obviously I am not talking about white bread or processed sugar. I am talking about whole-food sources such as sweet potatoes, bananas, apples, whole grains, and legumes.
Second, your body needs protein—which we all know too well thanks to fitness related advertising. Protein will give your body’s amino acids—which are needed to repair and build your muscles. Good sources of protein include eggs, grass-fed/ pasture raised meat, nuts and nut butter, lentils, and seeds.
So…Should You Be Drinking Protein Smoothies/Shakes After You Work Out?
Short answer—sure! But let me explain…I work out 6-7 days per week, for 45-90 minutes each day. I realize most people do not work out this much. For me, refueling after a workout is super important. As a 22-year-old female, if I was working out for 15 minutes twice a week (which is perfectly fine if that is your lifestyle btw!) I would definitely not need a protein shake or any post-meal snack. This is because my body would not be moving to a place where it is depleted of any nutrients. I could simply carry on with my day, eating my normal, balanced, meals and be fine.
Listen To Your Body
If you are ravenous after a workout, I would say, grab the protein smoothie/shake. This recipe that I am sharing is 100% not going to hurt you. The important point here is to take what I say with a grain of salt, apply it to your life and workout routine as you see fit.
Finally, let’s talk about my “favorite” subject…
There are so many shakes and protein powders on the market. There are the “get skinny/weightloss” shakes, the “meal replacement” shakes, the “get huge muscles” protein powders—the list goes on. The claims that these powders can do great things for you span across their labels and promise great thing… B.S.
First, I’d like to talk about how gross these “shakes” taste. I have not tried one that does not have an appealing texture or after taste. But, lots of healthy things do not always taste incredible (*swiss chard*). Second, (and more importantly) have you ever looked at the labels on those protein powders and weight loss shakes? More often than not, they are filled with ingredients that your body does not recognize (like artificial sweeteners) and will have adverse effects on your overall health.
Did You Know…?
Did you know that these protein shakes and powders do not require FDA approval for their marketing? True story. This means that their box could claim to give you huge muscles in a week, but in reality, their powder is actually filled with sugar and other weird fillers. The majority of the time that you purchase a shake mixture, you run the risk of not actually knowing what you are putting in your body. To me, that is a huge problem.
Considering that our bodies need nutrient-dense sources of carbs and proteins to refuel after our workouts, I do not think that conventional shakes and protein powders are the way to go for anyone, any time.
So, Let Me Tell You About My Post-Workout Smoothie
This is a basic recipe for what I whip up after a long run or workout. It takes less than 2 minutes to make—which is awesome because I am usually super super hungry after my workouts. It is made 100% with whole-foods, each ingredient you can pronounce, and it’ll get in all those awesome nutrients that your body needs to get it through the rest of your day. This smoothie does require some planning ahead – like freezing my ripe bananas or steaming and freezing my sweet potato. Neither of those things take long and the slight extra effort is totally worth it.
So here you are, ditch your old shake and give this whole-foods based protein smoothie a try! You will not regret it.
My Post-Workout Protein Smoothie
Author: The Local Sprout
Recipe type: Snack, Breakfast
- ½ banana, frozen - the ultimate recovery food. Bananas are super high in potassium and fiber.
- ½ small sweet potato steamed* and frozen (or sub more banana) - sweet potatoes are a healthy source of carbs and awesome source of vitamin A
- ½-2 cups unsweetened plant-based milk (more if you plan on drinking your smoothie, less if you plan on eating it with a spoon)- I use almond milk which is higher in protein than other milk sources. Dairy milk does not digest well for me, but feel free to sub with your desired milk choice.
- 2 Tbsp. PB2* or 1 Tbsp Natural Peanut Butter - another great source of protein
- Big handful of spinach - Spinach is a powerhouse of nutrients including vitamin K, folate, magnesium, iron, and vitamin B
- 1 Tbsp. collagen peptides (optional)** - for extra protein
- Toppings (optional):
- 1 Tbsp. hemp seeds (optional) - hemp seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids as well as omega-6 fatty acids, both nutrients that will keep your body energized throughout the rest of the day
- 1 Tbsp. chia seeds- chia is high in omega-3 fatty acids, healthy carbs and protein
- 1 Tbsp: ground flaxseed- high in fiber and protein, make sure to purchase the ground flaxseed as opposed to the seeds as the nutrients are more bio-available
- Place all ingredients in blender. Blend on high until smooth and creamy, scraping the edges halfway through to ensure evenness.**
- Pour into bowl, sprinkle with toppings if desired and serve immediately.
*An easy way to steam and freeze your sweet potatoes is it prick the outside of your potato with a fork a few times, wrap it in a paper towel and microwave on each side for about 3-4 minutes or until very soft. Roughly chop it up and trow it in a bowl in the freezer. As long as your potato is clean, leave the skin on - it is totally fine to eat! I do this every night and this way, I am sure to always have a stash in the freezer.
is simply powdered peanuts with the healthy fats are removed which makes the protein in it easier to digest after a workout, other times of day be sure to use normal peanut butter since the fats are good for our bodies)
are a powdered form of gelatin. The protein content in this is extremely high and has also been shown to assist in ligament strength—which is great for athletes. My link is to a quality brand which you always want to look for when purchasing collagen