Being physically active is one of the best things you can do for your health, no matter if you’re vegan or not. Most people who are passionate about physical fitness know the benefits of consuming a post-workout meal or light snack to help their muscles recover and to ensure healthy muscle growth. One of the best things to consume right after a workout is a smoothie because it allows for a quick delivery of nutrients to your muscle cells without the need for a great deal of energy for digestion.
Right after your workout is not the time to eat a heavy meal. For one, the longer it takes to digest, the longer it will take those nutrients to reach your muscle cells to do their work. Secondly, immediately after exercise, you want to eat something your digestive system can process and recognize quickly that can provide you with energy, not something that will bog you down and make you sleepy the rest of the day. A smoothie is the best way to deliver maximum nutrients in a quick-to-digest format.
Now, the question is, how do you build an optimum post-workout smoothie? Easy! Follow these tips and enjoy quicker recovery, easier digestion, and best of all – the lean, toned muscles that you’re looking for.
1. Choose a Clean Protein Powder
Everyone knows the benefits of using protein powder, but don’t fall for those fancy gimmicks on product labels at the store or online. Do your homework. Investigate what’s in the protein powder. Does it have GMOs or specify it’s certified non-GMO? Is it gluten-free? Is it 100% vegan verified? Does it contain digestive enzymes for optimal digestion and uptake of nutrients? What other ingredients does it have? If it has added sugar in the form of coconut sugar, fructose, cane juice or syrup, dextrose, etc. then it’s not the best option. Right after a workout, your body doesn’t need added sugar. It needs high-quality nutrients, mostly in the form of lean protein and complex carbs. I suggest going online to most brands’ websites and reading their FAQ section or reading the ingredient panel. A clean protein powder will have simple ingredients and possibly added superfoods, but won’t have fillers, GMO’s, sugar, or corn. The powder gets bonus points if it’s organic and fair-trade.
2. Add Some Leafy Greens
Though greens aren’t the typical ingredient in a post-workout smoothie, they should be! Greens are full of magnesium that helps your muscles recover and magnesium also lowers cortisol in the body, which is at its peak right after your workout. You want to reduce stress to your muscles and mind after you workout and leafy greens are a fantastic way to do just that. They also help keep you lean and full. They’re low in calories but high in nutrients and they are also full of fiber to ensure your digestive stays healthy. Choose spinach, kale, romaine, or Swiss chard as some of the most nutrient-dense options.
3. Add Low-Glycemic Fruit
Adding a low-glycemic fruit such as berries, papaya, half a banana, or super fruits like acai and goji are a great way to give your body high-quality carbs right after your workout so they can help your muscles recover properly. They’ll also prevent your blood sugar from spiking too high so you don’t crash later and become tired more quickly. All fruit can be healthy but it’s important to eat low-glycemic sources of carbs right after a workout for optimal energy and repair. The best part is, these fruits are some of the healthiest options you can choose from and they’re all delicious in a smoothie.
4. Watch the Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are also great to add to your post-workout smoothie but don’t go too crazy with them if you’re concerned with optimal muscle repair and digestion. While your body needs healthy fats right after a workout to reduce insulin in the body, it mostly needs protein and complex carbs to restore glycogen in the muscle cells, which helps you recover faster. Too much fat can also be hard to digest right after your workout because your blood hasn’t fully reverted from the muscle cells back to your stomach yet. A couple of teaspoons of healthy fats in a post-workout smoothie is plenty. The best sources include: raw coconut butter, raw almond butter, avocado (about 1/8 of a fruit), chia seeds, flax seeds, or hemp seeds.
5. Add Some Superfoods
Superfoods can truly help your body recover faster and provide you with more energy around the clock. Some of the best to include before or after a workout include: cacao, maca, goji, acai, chia, hemp, spirulina, camu-camu, and wheatgrass powder. You can also buy an all-in-one product as there are many on the market. I’m preferable to those that are raw, vegan, organic, non-GMO, and gluten-free. Superfoods are maximized with nutrients that you won’t find elsewhere in your diet. While they’re not essential to post-workout recovery, but they do deliver results you’re likely not to get elsewhere.
You can add any choice of non-dairy milk to your post-workout smoothie that you like. Popular choices include almond milk, soy milk, and coconut milk. I always suggest choosing unsweetened or unsweetened vanilla flavors when possible since regular varieties or light varieties contain added sugar from cane syrup that you’ll want to avoid.
Last but not least, be sure you know the best order of ingredients to make a smoothie so your smoothie turns out as best as possible! Do you have a post-workout smoothie recipe you enjoy? If so, share it and if you’re looking for recipes, check out our smoothie section to get some fun ideas!
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