Everyone knows the importance of nutrition when it comes to fitness.
It doesn’t matter what your chosen pursuit is, be you a runner, strength athlete or just someone who is trying to stay in shape. Nutrition matters, and it becomes critical in achieving fitness goals.
What I’ve found central in my workouts is having a plan for a solid post-workout meal, something I can eat within 30 minutes of completing my training for the day. Studies have shown that getting the right food in your system soon after a workout will maximize your body’s ability to rebuild stronger and recover more quickly.
But what to eat? I’d vote for a smoothie. But not just any smoothie.
Notice I didn’t say protein shake. That’s because many protein shakes that you can buy ready-to-consume or those that can be mixed quickly have some dubious ingredients (see my past post on this subject here).
But with a little time and advance planning, you can make a great protein-rich smoothie that also give you some quick-burn carbs which will get your body to work on the rebuilding process immediately.
Plus, I promise it tastes awesome. Here’s what I do:
– 1/2 cup of skim milk
– 1/2 cup of orange juice
– 1/2 cup of ice
– 3-4 strawberries, fresh or frozen
– 1/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
– 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds
– And as an option, if you can afford an extra 110 calories, throw in a banana. (If you’re trying to cut calories, lose the banana and it will still taste great.)
– 1 scoop of all-natural/organic whey protein (I use a vanilla flavor from Jarrow).
Put all of this into a blender and crank it up until you get a good, icy consistency. Depending on if you use a banana or not, this will be anywhere from 390-500 calories, which is about the perfect size for a mini-meal. You can use more berries if you wish (they are low-cal, high-nutrient), and you can also double-down on the chia seeds.
This smoothie gives you several things:
1. It gives you high-quality carbs to get the repair process going quickly.
2. It gives you, at a minimum, 24 grams of high-quality, quickly absorbed protein for rebuilding muscle.
3. You get the benefit of three “super foods” (blueberries, strawberries and chia seeds) that are high in antioxidants, which help the body in numerous ways, including fighting back the processes that can lead to cancer, heart disease and degenerative maladies such as Alheimer’s disease. They’re also high in fiber and a number of vitamins.
You can play with this recipe if you wish by substituting other berries. If you are lactose intolerant, try goat’s milk, almond milk or soy milk.
If possible, I would also stick with organic produce, milk and juice, though budget-conscious people may need more standard fare.
A last note on other things you can add: If you are in a bulking stage and want to add more protein and some healthy fat, a serving of peanut butter tastes great in this smoothie. It will cost you in terms of calories (taking the calorie count to 690 calories if you also include the banana), but it’s healthy stuff that adds a nutty flavor and blends well with the other ingredients. Also, if you want to add some greens, a serving of spinach mixes well, adds nutrients and is very light (4 calories per serving). You might wonder what it does flavor-wise, but you won’t even notice it.
I use this smoothie several times a week after my workouts, which usually consist of 45 minutes of intense weights followed two to four miles of running at least four times a week. So far, I’ve been able to use it to aid recovery and gain strength, which has in turn helped give me better symmetry and performance.
Training is important. So is eating, and with that in mind, eat like you train — eat like you mean it.
On Twitter @RMHigh7088