Sometimes it feels like gathering the energy needed for a workout is more challenging than the workout itself. Experts often say that our diet is just as important as—if not more than— exercise for maintaining a healthy physique, which explains the ongoing popularity of pre- and post-workout smoothies.
The drinks are not too heavy on the stomach and chock-full of the ingredients the body needs to go full throttle while exercising. Generally speaking, the stuff that makes up a smoothie, fruits and veggies, are all beneficial to our insides, but certain combinations are best for more targeted and effective energy.
According to Lori Orlowski, workout enthusiast and senior director of product development for Sweatwellth, by ingesting the right foods, you can give your body the extra power it needs to make the most of your workout.
“Pre-workout smoothies are stocked up on healthy fats with a moderate amount of carbs and protein,” she says. “[They] boost your performance, start your workout hydrated, preserve muscle tissue, eliminate hunger pangs, and help speed the recovery process.”
Optimum ingredients include:
- Bananas—loaded with potassium and carbohydrates that help energize the body
- Oats—provide longer-lasting energy
- Spinach—results in muscles using less oxygen, which improves muscle performance
- Almond butter—almonds are rich in magnesium and B vitamins, both of which support energy and optimal muscle function in the body. They also contain protein—use just two tablespoons to keep your pre-workout fat intake in check.
- Hemp seeds—either the seeds or protein powder can be used pre-workout for a complete vegan protein hit.
- Apples—contain a powerful antioxidant that helps deliver more oxygen to your lungs
- Coconut oil—to help fight body fat
Once you’re done breaking a sweat, Orlowski says your body has a 30- to 60-minute window of optimal time for your cells to receive nutrients. Drinking during that crucial period will not only accomplish that but also help your muscles recover and come back stronger for the next workout, too.
“The ideal post-workout smoothie strikes the perfect balance between protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Combine protein like almonds, peanut butter, with greens like spinach and fruits such as banana, strawberry, and blueberries. This will give you the energy boost you need to power through the rest of your day.”
- Papaya and ginger—help with muscle repair
- Coconut water—filled with electrolytes, which replenish lost minerals in the body and also rehydrate the body.
- Pineapple—rich in enzymes that reduce inflammation post-workout. It is also a good source of carbohydrates to aid in glycogen resynthesis.
- Ginger powder or grated ginger—both contain anti-inflammatory properties. The anti-inflammatory effect of ginger can also reduce muscle pain after intense physical activity.
- Blueberries—high in antioxidants that help inflammation, which counteracts soreness
- Hemp seeds—high in protein, and they repair and build muscle
Ahead are pre- and post-workout smoothie recipes that feature all of these powerhouse ingredients in a number of creative combos. Taste-test them all until you find a favorite!