Do you eat after you exercise? You should. Your body needs to rehydrate and rebuild to improve your level of fitness. So what's the best way to refuel? Believe it or not, you don't need high-tech manufactured powders or processed supplements. A post-workout smoothie made with whole, natural foods works best.
3 Tips to make better smoothies
- Combine carbs with protein but control calories. The best post-workout smoothies include mostly carbohydrates along with some protein, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE). "The carbohydrates replenish the depleted energy...the protein helps to rebuild the muscles that were fatigued with exercise." They recommend that you consume 1.5g/kg of body weight of carbohydrate within 30 minutes of exercise.
But you need to control calories as well. One of the most common mistakes made by exercisers is overeating after a workout. So measure ingredients and keep your portion sizes in control to make sure your energy balance is optimized for a lean body weight.
- Use real, natural ingredients. Of course you could grab a workout drink from the health club juice vendor or you could use a manufactured supplement from your local vitamin shop. But do you really know what is in those processed powders and products? There have been countless cases where the FDA has busted popular supplement makers because their products don't contain the ingredients that they advertise on the label.
You can get the nutrients you need from real food. So why not make your smoothie out of foods that you are familiar with? Use fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, nuts and grains. My favorite recipe is the Basic Green Smoothie from Blendtec. It uses only 3 ingredients - including spinach and fruit - it takes only a minute to make and a single serving contains only 77 calories.
- Be prepared with healthy ingredients and quality tools. If you want to refuel within that short 30-minute window, you should have your smoothie ingredients ready to go. Make smoothie prep a part of your weekly meal planning ritual. Put pre-measured ingredients into baggies or small containers and store them in the fridge so they are easy to grab when it's time to blend.
You should also use a high quality blender to get the best results. My favorite is the Blendtec Designer 725 with Wildside+ Jar. It's a bit of an investment, but if you are serious about fitness, the investment is worth it.
If you are training for a specific sport or a if you are a competitive athlete, your nutrition needs may vary. In that case, set up a meeting with a qualified sports nutritionist to get a meal plan that meets your needs.
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