Is it a good idea to drink a smoothie before your workout? The answer is, it depends on what's in it. Some ingredients will help fuel your muscles, and some will hinder your progress. Here is our guide to the perfect pre-workout smoothie to turbo-charge your exercise sessions.
Should I Consume Protein Before or After Exercise?
Studies have shown that the body uses protein effectively when consumed before and after a workout, which is contrary to the popular belief that you should consume your protein directly after exercise for it to work. Adding a scoop of protein powder into your pre-workout drink will, therefore, help to build muscle just as well as if you have it post-exercise.
Beneficial Ingredients for a Pre-Workout Smoothie
These ingredients have a positive effect on the body when consumed before exercise.
- Fruit - Glycogen is the body's fuel of choice for high-intensity exercise. Fruit such as bananas, apples, pears, and berries provide simple carbs that the body can easily use to fuel the muscles. They also contain fiber, which helps the body to avoid a sugar-crash mid-workout. Plus, the vitamins and minerals are crucial for the proper functioning of bodily systems, especially when under stress. Bananas, in particular, are high in potassium, an electrolyte that helps fluid and glycogen move through the cells.
- Greek yogurt - The protein in yogurt aids muscle performance and recovery, and is easy to digest.
- Avocado - The fat in avocado is beneficial for fuelling the body during longer low-intensity exercise sessions. Plus, avocadoes contain digestible fiber and other beneficial nutrients.
- Shelled hemp seeds - These little beauties are a nutritional powerhouse. They are a complete plant protein, containing all nine essential amino acids, including histidine and arginine, which are responsible for muscle growth and repair. They also contain essential fatty acids and help to boost energy.
- Spirulina - This blue-green algae is also super-high in essential amino acids. In fact, it has the highest protein content of any food, including meat and dairy, and it is very bio-available. Spirulina helps to oxidize the blood and provide nutrients and energy.
- Soft leafy greens - Greens such as spinach, dandelion, chard, and watercress break down easily in the blender and provide your body with essential nutrients to improve energy and function.
Ingredients to Leave Out
You don't want your body diverting energy to digestion when you are trying to complete your weight training or HIIT workout. Leave out anything hard to digest or devoid of nutrients. For example:
- Nuts and seeds (except hemp)
- Processed carbs and sugars
- Pulses and legumes
- Fibrous veggies (broccoli, kale, carrots, beets, celery, etc.)
- Dried fruit (the sugar is highly concentrated and can contribute to energy crashes)
Workout Rocket Fuel Smoothie Recipe
- 1 ripe banana
- 0.5 cup natural unsweetened Greek yogurt
- 1.5 cups almond milk
- Handful of berries
- Handful of baby spinach leaves
- 1 tbsp. shelled hemp seeds
- 1 scoop clean protein powder
- 0.5-1 tsp. Spirulina (it has a strong taste so you may want to start with less and taste as you go)
- Optional - half a small ripe avocado
Place everything in a blender and blitz to a smooth consistency. If you prefer cold drinks, use frozen fruit or add a handful of ice cubes before blending.
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