Smoothies are great way to nutrients into your body quickly before training. Anyone wanting to fuel their body should think about blending some fruits and vegetables together before, during or after training.
When you wake up in the morning, you have gone quite a few hours without eating. What you eat and drink at this point in the day is critical in determining how the rest of your day will go.
You may not think that breakfast is important to you, with regard to your energy levels and cognitive function throughout the day, but I’m willing to bet that this is because you are either a habitual breakfast avoider, or you don’t get the right stuff into your system when you do.
A coffee and a donut just don’t cut it.
Even if you think you’re fine without breakfast, that’s excellent news, because imagine what you’d be capable of with a good fuel-up first thing in the morning.
Maybe you don’t like to eat just after you have woken up, perhaps you don’t have time to fix something healthy because you’ve got the kids to get ready for school, or you’re just a rusher in the morning and need to get in the car, on the bus, metro, or whatever else.
That’s all fine, because there isn’t a scenario that can’t be solved with smoothies. All of the usual excuses – valid or not – for being a breakfast no-show can be turned around with the whirr of a blade.
Fuel Endure Recover With a Smoothie
If you’re an active person then there’s even more reason to start getting into smoothies, but really the Fuel-Endure-Recover philosophy can be applied to any day that you need to function at your best, whether it’s power, endurance, concentration or motivation you need.
No matter what your level of activity during a day (and I hope there’s quite a bit), there’s a smoothie that can help you get ready for it, get through it, and get over it.
We’ll get into why liquidizing food is a good idea in a second, but you might be put off straight away by the thought that you will have to go out and spend a ton of money on a blender…
Do I Need a Fancy Blender?
The short answer is – No.
You will no doubt have heard of the top-end brands of blenders like Vitamix or BlendTec, and be thinking ‘I’m not spending that much just to make a few smoothies every week.’
Well, don’t worry because the type of blender I’m going to demonstrate most of the smoothies on this website can be bought for less than $40. So, why does anyone get a super expensive blender?
A Vitamix, for example, is so powerful it can be literally measured in horsepower! Power has certain advantages where blending is concerned: tougher foods require more of it to truly liquidize them. In some cases, this can make it more pleasant to drink and makes it quicker to digest, and also absorb more of the nutrients.
Yes, in a perfect world, everyone would have a super powerful blender, but the difference they make is not worth breaking the bank if the cost is too much at the moment.
You may want to graduate to one after a while, and there may be times that I will use one to demonstrate something particular, but I have purposely avoided ‘needing’ one so that I can show you it’s possible to be a smoothie maker on a low budget.
Why Are Smoothies a Good Idea?
I’ve touched on a couple of the reasons in the previous sections, but I’ll add and expand on those.
You can fulfill many of your daily requirements for Vitamins, Minerals and the Macro Nutrients (protein, carbohydrate, fat), which would be impossible by making a solid breakfast
Digestion and Absorption
A liquid meal is broken down much easier and faster than solid food, meaning you get the benefit a lot sooner.
When you smash the solid material that makes up a food’s structure, you can force the release of a lot more of the nutrients that might otherwise make it through your system locked up and purged as waste.
You’ve noticed the words like quick, easy, fast that I keep associating with smoothies. You might think you don’t have time to make anything, but trust me (and we will time one or two of them for this purpose) you can blitz out a drinkable breakfast in the shake of a dancing bear’s skirt.
For those people with an aversion to eating a lot at breakfast, drinking is way easier to cope with
They are NOT Fruit Juice
Fruit juice is basically taking the good parts of fruit, throwing them away and then leaving you with the sugar to drink. They might even add sugar and other flavouring compounds. When you blend fruit, it keeps the tasty juicy stuff but also the very important fibre and other nutrients normally discarded by the juice makers
If losing some excess baggage is your goal then you will have a much better chance by incorporating a meal replacement smoothie every day.
This can be because you can take on more nutritional value in less calories. Also, there are even ingredients you can use which can induce a direct thermogenic fat-burning effect.
I’m not sure we need any more benefits to smoothies actually. If you’re not sold at this point, you’re never going to be.
So Should I Just Blend Everything?
Not at all, that’s not what this is about. There are some people who are built to go full-bore at something, and I’m going to say that liquidizing every meal is not a good idea. Sure, a smoothie a day, or even two, is a great way of boosting your nutritional needs, but keep it at that.
Don’t start replacing every meal with a smoothie, if for no other reason than it will make you sick of them after a while.
There’s a definite mood-boosting factor to biting, chewing and crunching solid food and I would consider my life a nightmare if I had to live without those sensory experiences, not to mention the fact that it’s probably the better way to really taste your food.
So remember, keep a balanced outlook on this and you can’t really go wrong.
Here’s a couple to have a go at in the meantime, and we’ll try and get some more recipes on here:
The Recover Smoothie
We train to recover. In a way, it’s that simple.
Yes, a lot of the hard work is put in at the gym, and eating the right things, and taking supplements. It’s all definitely the ‘input’ side of things, but skimp on the recovery part afterwards and all the hard work may as well have been for nothing.
The nutrients you eat after a workout, and then your night’s sleep, are the most important portion of the training cycle because without adequate recovery, your muscles will not grow as well, you won’t be able to concentrate and you won’t be able to go back stronger the next time.
And, if you really ignore this important part then you might even be doing yourself harm. Training is simply a stimulus for your muscles to overcompensate and grow back stronger and bigger…or your aerobic engine to come back with deeper and more resilient.
Training on its own actually depletes these things. What you do afterwards is what makes the difference.
So, with that fear factor thrown at you, let’s look at the recovery smoothie we have for the post workout window.
Protein, avocado, and banana are 3 of the ingredients, hence the silly name I’ve picked for this one.
If you’ve read the Fuel Smoothie 1: The Mochana then the ingredients complement this one quite well, and where it calls for half of an avocado, you could make this one up and store it in the fridge so you don’t waste any of the fruit (because you know how quick avocados go disgusting and brown).
I’m a huge fan of chocolate so this kind of recovery smoothie only makes sense to me. It leans towards chocolate also because I tend to buy chocolate flavoured protein powder. If you don’t have protein powder then consider getting a tub anyway.
And, if you don’t like that flavour then this can easily be made into a vanilla theme or something else. Just be mindful of the other ingredients so you don’t make something clash horribly.
- Frozen Banana – 1
- Frozen Strawberries – 1 cup
- Frozen Raspberries – 1/2 cup
- Chocolate Protein Powder – 1 scoop (there’s usually a plastic scoop supplied in any protein powder)
- Avocado – 1/2
- Cocoa Powder – 1 teaspoon
- Almond Milk – 1 cup
- Syrup – (agave/maple) 1 teaspoon
- Ice – Add as necessary (perhaps only a 1/4 cup will be needed)
Replacements if necessary:
- Soy milk or Coconut milk in place of Almond milk
- Vanilla Protein powder in place of Chocolate
The Good Stuff
For a recovery drink, protein should definitely be a major component, which is why a dedicated protein powder has been put in the recipe.
Most protein powders you buy will have a 30g scoop or there abouts, and it’s difficult to get that much of this important macronutrient from any other form of food in that concentrated amount. In fact, it’s impossible.
So, protein powder it is. It’s also highly bioavailable and gets absorbed nice and quickly when you most need it after a workout.
The Provacana is quite heavy on the calories (it’s a bit over 400), which is exactly what you want after a tough session in the gym, or a long run, cycle or whatever your jam is.
Aside from a healthy balance of the macros; protein, carbs and fat, there is a good portion of fibre. Vitamin A, C, Calcium and Iron are present in abundance as well.
When to Drink It?
Being a founding member of the ‘Recover’ category, there is no doubt when it is best to drink the Provacana.
It will help you muscles regain and add strength, and give you a dose of much needed energy for the next day at work and another session on the weights.
The best specific time to drink it, however, is within the hour following any strenuous exercise. This is when your body will utilize the amino acids and vitamins most readily.
So, drink it:
30 – 60 minutes after a workout.
Fuel Smoothie – The Mochana
Smoothies are a great way of getting nutrients into your system fast.
Whether it’s the macro nutrients (protein, carbs and fats) you are trying to get right, or more specific vitamins, electrolytes, or a combination of all of them, nothing quite liberates all of these things and readies them for absorption like a good blender.
This website was originally conceived to help people pick out products and make nutritional choices to fulfill every aspect of the Fuel – Endure – Recover cycle of physical conditioning.
So, in an effort to provide you with nutritional smoothies tailored to specific goals within that cycle, this is hopefully the first of many in the smoothie series.
The best place to start is probably with the Fuel part of the cycle and give you an energy lifting, strength boosting smoothie to take you to another level in the gym, on the track, on the bike, or whatever activity you want.
I’m a triathlete at heart, and this is a take on one of my favourite mixes from a long time ago when I was training for Ironman. Caffeine is a cyclist’s best friend – it is a very well caffeinated sport!
The Mochana is a ‘dive straight in’ smoothie. The name is my not-genius combination of Mocha and Banana. There’s not many frills in terms of fancy ingredients, but it does provide you with a good balance of carbs, protein, fat and plenty of go-to strength and endurance vitamins, not to mention the coffee to really push it up a gear.
You’ll notice my recipes aren’t scientific formulae, you don’t need to measure everything to the milligram.
Also, if you don’t have something, substitute for something similar with common sense in mind. Always think: will this make it taste funny?
- Ice – 1 cup
- Strong coffee (brewed and cooled) – 1/2 cup
- Almond Milk* (preferably vanilla) – 1 cup
- Banana – 1
- Caramel Syrup** – a squirt
- Cacao/cocoa – 1 tbsp (tablespoon)
Replacements if necessary:
- Soy milk for almond milk.
- Sweetener (stevia or coconut sugar) for caramel syrup
- Avacado – 1/2 fruit
- Cinnamon – small pinch (ground powder)
* The vanilla flavoured soy/almond milks really help with taste in my opinion as they are otherwise a little bland or even weird tasting, dare I say it. If you can’t get hold of the vanilla sort then you can find vanilla syrups (like they use in cafes) and add a dash.
** Speaking of syrups, I find Torani to be a good make, but there are plenty out there. You will find these products very useful for a number of things, including smoothies.
The Good Stuff
The Mochana looks like a dessert shake or something to me, but there really is a high nutritional value, and as far as fuelling the body goes, there aren’t many better for short-term energy response.
In an average Mochana, you are getting about 200 calories. Carbs are between 25g and 30g, with protein at just under 10g and Fat about 5g to 7g.
That’s the macros, and they are at a nice balance for energy purposes, and even for recovery after an intense exercise session.
There’s also a few grams of Fibre to keep you heart-healthy and regular.
Vitamin A, Calcium and Iron are present at nice base values for you to add to over the course of the day.
The banana is an excellent fruit, which gives you a lot of energy and supplies a decent amount of the electrolytes you need if you are going to get a serious sweat on.
When to Drink It?
The Mochana is in the ‘Fuel’ category primarily but it really could be a useful recovery drink.
However, cacao and a couple of the other ingredients are pretty strong antioxidants and while these are considered ‘good’ for you in the sense that they purge your body of free-radicals, research suggests it’s not such a good idea to dump a bunch in your system straight after exercise.
Part of recovery is allowing our bodies to adapt to the rigours of training and loading it with antioxidants immediately afterwards does not marry with this.
In a pinch though – or if you have some Mochana left – it’s not going to ruin you!
So…stick to using this as a Fuel, and depending on how your constitution deals with this kind of thing before working out, drink it:
30 – 45 minutes before your warm up.
FUEL – ENDURE – RECOVER