How to Build a Post-Workout Smoothie

Sometimes there isn’t much time after practice before you have somewhere to be, or you simply aren’t hungry enough to have solid food. In these cases, smoothies are a perfect way to recover effectively after practice. 

Making sure every component that is needed in post-practice fuel is important when you are crafting your smoothie. Read below for the why and how you can build a perfect post-workout smoothie. 

Benefits of Post-Workout Fueling?

Even though you may not want a full meal after your workout, it is still important to put something into your body so it can recover properly. Your body needs the energy to refuel every muscle you just exhausted to keep you from crashing later in the day. 

Benefits of post-workout fueling are:

  • Increased lean body mass
  • Decreased soreness 
  • Increased energy through the day
  • Faster recovery
  • Improved performance 

What Should be Included in Post Workout Fueling

After a workout or practice, the goal is to maximize glycogen replenishment and muscle recovery. The muscles need their energy restored and need to repair the damage made during exercise. 

The energy is restored in our bodies through carbohydrate consumption. When we exercise, we break down all available carbohydrates that are running through our blood as glucose and our stored glucose which is called glycogen. Glycogen can be found is found in the liver and muscles. Glycogen from both our muscles and liver is used during training. We need to consume carbohydrates after a workout to replenish those glycogen stores for next time. 

You also need to include protein in your post-workout fueling because it builds the muscles back from the damage that they endured during exercise. Consuming the right amount of protein will also allow for new muscles to be made and for your muscles to recover for the rest of the day. 

How to Build a Post-Workout Smoothie

Building a smoothie is a great way to fuel post-practice because it can be quick and you can drink it on the go. You are able to create a smoothie with all of the nutrients you need, you just need to have the right components. 

1. Pick 1-2 Cups of Liquid

Any type of liquid can be used as the base of your smoothie. This serves as a medium to make the smoothie a liquid consistency that you can drink. The liquid can also provide things like protein, carbohydrates, fat, vtamins and minerals that can help you reach your goals. Liquids are also easier and quicker to digest in our body because we don’t have to break down much since it is already thin. 

Here are some great liquid additions:

  • Milk
  • Chocolate milk
  • Almond Milk
  • Soy Milk
  • Orange Juice
  • Tart cherry juice

2. Add 1-2 Cups of Fruit

Fruit allows you to build your smoothie with carbohydrates, but it also can add vitamins and minerals to your smoothie. It also adds some great flavor! You can mix and match as many different types of fruit as you would like, and they can be a mix of frozen or fresh. Frozen is a great option for those who want a thicker smoothie!

Fruit Ideas for Smoothies

  • Strawberries
  • Berry Medley (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc.)
  • Bananas
  • Peaches
  • Mango
  • Pineapple

3. Add a Protein Source

Protein is important post-workout to aid our muscles in recovery. There are many different protein options that you can mix and match to add enough protein to a smoothie. There is a goal of 20-25 grams of protein post-workout, so combine some options to meet your goal! 

Protein Add-Ins for Smoothies

  • 1 cup of milk: 8g protein
  • 1 cup of soy milk: 8g protein
  • 2 Tbsp Chia seeds: 5 g protein
  • 3 Tbsp hemp hearts: 10 g protein
  • ⅔ cups Greek Yogurt: 15g protein
  • 1 scoop whey protein: ~25g protein

4. Add Anti-Inflammatory Nutrients

Anti-inflammatory ingredients will help to make you feel better after your workout and your body will recover more effectively. Many of the options included are also involved in different categories, so they can double dip! This will make it less complicated for you when gathering ingredients and will give you all the benefits.

Anti-Inflammatory Smoothie Add-Ins

  • Berries
  • Avocado
  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Spices: turmeric, cinnamon

5. Blend and Top with Your Favorite Toppings

You can easily top your smoothie with anything you want, especially if you are missing the right amount of carbohydrates or protein in the end. It can also be a chance to add some healthy fats and make it a complete snack!

Smoothie Toppings

  • Fresh or dried fruit
  • Granola
  • Chocolate chips 
  • Protein options:
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp hearts
  • Nut butter
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Pumpkin seeds

Post Workout Smoothie Ideas

Banana Peanut Butter Green Smoothie

This Banana Peanut Butter Green Smoothie gives you all you need to properly recovery after practice. The peanut butter and protein powder provide protein. The bananas and zucchini serve as fruits and vegetables. There are also a couple of anti-inflammatory nutrients in there with cinnamon and spinach/kale.

Almond Cherry Smoothie

This Almond Cherry Smoothie is great if you are looking to venture out in creative recipes. This recipe has some great options when it comes to carbohydrates, protein, and anti-inflammatory ingredients. I would recommend following this recipe, but adding in the optional protein powder to guarantee adequate protein. 

Blueberry Almond Milk Smoothie

This Blueberry Almond Milk Smoothie has anti-inflammatory ingredients like blueberries, but it also has great protein sources in the protein powder and carbohydrates in the zucchini, bananas, and oats. 

Conclusion

Consuming enough carbohydrates and protein after practice is essential for recovery and it can be easily done with a smoothie. Properly recovering after a workout can lead to improved performance, decreased soreness, and better energy throughout the day. 

Smoothies are easy to make and can be taken on the go while also getting everything you would need like carbohydrates, protein, and anti-inflammatory ingredients. Carbohydrates are important to include so you can build up your glycogen stores and protein is needed for new muscle synthesis. 

There are five steps to creating a smoothie 

  1. Selecting a liquid
  2. Adding fruit
  3. Picking out a protein source, 
  4. Adding anti-inflammatory ingredients
  5. Blending it and topping it with micronutrient-dense toppings

Creating a great post-workout smoothie among other post-workout options are things that I discuss with my athletes in our online sports nutrition coaching programs. We help athletes with flexible on-demand content and live nutrition coaching with a sports dietitian. 

If you are looking for guidance on post-practice fueling, I encourage you to sign up today. We currently have open enrollment, and I would love to help support you in getting to your goals! 

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