Here’s the deal: Recovery is just as important as actually working out. Help your body repair itself with these five post-workout smoothie recipes, created by HUM dietitian Chelsey Amer, MS, RDN, CDN.
Getting to the gym (or your living room floor) to complete your workout is just one part of the equation to get in great shape. Factors like workout timing, how often you exercise, and what you eat before your workout all play a role in how effective your fitness routine is. But arguably most important, is what you eat to help your muscles recover after your sweat session.
Optimizing your post-workout recovery is necessary to help you get the most out of your workout, and nutrition is a key component because you break down and deplete your muscles while working out. During exercise, your muscles first use their preferred fuel source, glycogen, which is the storage form of carbohydrates. Further, exercise breaks down your muscle proteins, so, replenishing your carbohydrate stores and consuming protein soon post-workout is crucial to help build muscle and optimize your performance during your next workout. The answer? A well-rounded post-workout smoothie. It’s a simple and easy way to ensure you get all the nutrients you need after your sweat sesh.
Keep reading to learn what to put in a post-workout smoothie—and to see five of the best post-workout smoothie recipes.
What Nutrients Do You Need Post-Workout?
While many workout aficionados sip protein shakes post-workout, don’t skimp on your carbs. Carbohydrates are essential to replenish your glycogen stores.
Experts recommend consuming both carbs and protein within two to three hours of your workout in a three to one ratio to:
- Boost protein and muscle synthesis
- Prevent muscle breakdown
- Replenish carbohydrate (glycogen) stores
- Improve overall muscle recovery
The exact quantity of carbohydrates and protein to consume post-workout will vary based on your workout intensity and goals. Experts recommend the following guidelines:
- 0.5–0.7 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight (1.1–1.5 grams/kg)
- 0.14–0.23 grams of protein per pound of body weight (0.3–0.5 grams/kg)
For instance, if you weigh 150 pounds experts suggest consuming 75-105 grams of carbohydrates and 21-34.5 grams of protein as soon as possible after your workout.
Why Post-Workout Smoothies are Ideal for Recovery
If focusing on post-workout nutrition seems like one more thing to add to your growing to-do list, keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be complicated. Smoothies are the perfect post-workout fuel because they’re quick and easy to make, delicious, and customizable.
Building the perfect post-workout smoothie is all about following a simple formula. Ideally, you want to include one food from each of the following categories for optimal recovery support and satisfaction:
Protein is necessary post-workout to help repair muscles, prevent muscle breakdown, and boost protein synthesis in your muscles.
Ideally, you want to aim for at least 20 grams of protein post-workout. The easiest way to boost the protein content of your smoothie is with protein powder, like HUM Nutrition’s Core Strength. Core Strength is an easy-to-digest low FODMAP protein powder with all essential amino acids to support muscle recovery and growth.
Other protein sources that can easily be added to your smoothie include:
- Greek yogurt (20 grams per 1 cup)
- Cottage cheese (28 grams per 1 cup)
- Silken tofu (10 grams per 8 ounces)
- Milk (8 grams protein per cup) or unsweetened soy milk (12 grams per cup)
- Hemp seeds (~10 grams protein per 3 tablespoons)
If you’ve ever made a post-workout smoothie and gotten hungry 30 minutes later, you may be skimping on fat. Healthy fats are a great addition to your post-workout smoothie to boost satisfaction, satiety, and staying power.
Here are some options to add to your post-workout smoothie:
- Peanut butter
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Sunflower seed butter
Add 1 tablespoon of your favorite.
Fiber is a type of non-digestible carbohydrate that helps stabilize your blood sugar and keeps you full. For recovery post-workout, carbohydrates, including fiber-filled carbohydrates, help you restore your body’s glycogen stores. This is especially important after a high-intensity training session to repair your muscles for your next workout.
Fiber-filled foods are digested slowly so they will also keep you fuller for longer. Include at least one of these fiber-filled foods in your post-workout smoothie:
- Fruit, including berries, bananas, mango, kiwi, etc.
- Vegetables like spinach, kale, cauliflower, zucchini, or beets
- Seeds, like chia seeds or flax seeds
Well-known recovery “superfoods” can help ease muscle soreness and aid muscle recovery. These foods for muscle recovery are high in antioxidants, which help fight inflammation.
Beets, tart cherries, watermelon juice, and omega-3-rich foods are all great options.
Many studies have shown that tart cherry juice or consuming tart cherries can enhance recovery and ease muscle damage caused by exercise. Similarly, beets contain dietary nitrates that help improve blood flow to muscles and help expedite muscle recovery.
An emerging post-workout recovery “superfood” is also watermelon. It’s packed with amino acid L-citrulline, which has been shown to boost nitric oxide production. This improves blood flow to the muscles.
For the tastiest smoothies, adding a creamy booster is a must. Creamy boosters enhance the mouthfeel of your smoothie, and they add volume, making your smoothie more satisfying.
Here are some awesome options for your post-workout smoothie:
- Frozen banana
- Frozen cauliflower rice (you can’t detect the cauliflower taste!)
- Frozen zucchini
- Avocado (also a healthy fat, as mentioned above)
5 Ideal Post-Workout Smoothie Recipes
Ready to try a post-workout smoothie after your next sweat session? These recipes are designed to help you refuel fast so you can get on with your day.