Yesterday I was 100% inspired by my protein smoothie….I know. Who gets inspired by a smoothie.
It was delicious.
That is the reason I started drinking smoothies. I found Jamba Juice and loved it. Smoothies have great taste, are refreshing and can be really healthy; especially for people who eat smaller meals like myself. They are a great fruit and veggie boost!
When I cut meat out of my diet and intensified my workouts, I started to notice that I felt weak, exhausted, dehydrated, under-nourished and like my muscles were simply breaking down. So I did some research. I wanted to know how I could keep up my current diet and workout routine without feeling this way. It did not feel normal to me.
Nutrition is a young science and it is always changing, but I did find several research articles supporting a relatively high protein intake within 1 hour of a workout (specifically, a resistance-based workout). It has been founded that this practice promotes muscle protein synthesis and hypertrophy, not atrophy (or muscle breakdown). A dose of about 25 grams of protein within 1 hour post-workout is considered a stimulant for muscle protein synthesis.
For 97.5% of the population, the Recommended Daily Allowance of protein is 0.8g/kg/day. For me, at 148 pounds (67.3 kg), that is 53g of protein per day (67.3kg x 0.8). For athletes, or individuals that are significantly more active than the average population, more protein may be required. The body needs to repair muscle tissue damaged during a workout, as well as enhance muscle protein synthesis. The recommendation for weightlifters is 1.2-2.0g/kg. On the low end, that is nearly 81 grams of protein/day for someone my size. If you’re a meat eater, that is easily obtained. For example, 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast has approximately 31 grams of protein. For us non meat-eaters, there is about 15 grams of protein for each 1 cup of black beans. Not so easy.
Plus, how often can we say that we just eat a chicken breast or 2 cups of beans post-workout? That would be ideal, but I can honestly tell you that at least for me, that isn’t going to happen.
So I started adding protein to my smoothies. I have never been a huge advocate of most synthetic protein because it tends to have chemicals in it, but I found a protein blend that I really like: Sunwarrior Classic Protein found here http://www.sunwarrior.com/store/proteins-natural-500g.html.
The only ingredient is brown rice protein. It is a gluten-free, non-solvent, non-GMO, vegan formula free of preservatives, artificial flavors and artificial colors! It also contains all of the essential amino-acids required from the human diet. Plus, it doesn’t have a gritty awful taste that I have found in some powders. I highly recommend the Classic flavor only. Sunwarrior also makes Vanilla and Chocolate flavors, but they contain stevia and ingredients other than the rice protein powder alone. I find that dressing the Classic flavor up with ingredients of my choosing makes it taste much better than the artificial flavoring of a protein powder.
The smoothie in this picture has a fresh banana and about 1 C. of frozen mango. I change up the fruit depending on what is in my freezer, but almost always use a fresh banana. If I am out, I might use half of an avocado. The fresh consistency of the fruit helps when blending the rest of the ingredients.
BONUS: Using frozen fruit means I don’t have to use ice cubes and the fruit flavor is more prominent.
I usually do some combination of the following ingredients as well:
Spinach or Kale: High in calcium, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Iron and manganese.
**Tip: you can also freeze these! Freezing is a great way to preserve greens, especially if they are starting to go bad in the refrigerator.
Flax Meal: Use about 1 Tablespoon. Flax meal is full of Omega-3 fatty acids, contains anti-oxidents and has heart-healthy effects. If you add too much more than 1 T, you may feel bloated and gassy, as flax meal is also high in fiber.
Coconut Water: Liquid is needed to help blend the smoothie. I usually use about 1 C. whether it is all coconut water, all almond milk, or a combination of the two. Coconut water has potassium and is naturally super-hydrating. Plus, it has no fat or cholesterol.
Chia Seeds: I also use a small amount of these; maybe around 1-2 teaspoons. They contain Omega-3 fatty acids, carbs, protein, fiber, anti-oxidents and calcium.
Sometimes I will also throw in 1-2 T. of greek yogurt if I have some just for a little extra protein boost.
And of course, 1 scoop of my favorite protein powder.
A bullet, or mock-bullet is perfect for these. You just throw all the ingredients in a cup and blend them up. Super easy and efficient for your body and your time!
I try to drink one of these every day post-workout, but make a specific effort on the days I’m doing any weight-training. They give me a protein and energy boost, ensure I am getting adequate calories and protein each day and pretty much just taste good.
Happy smoothie making!
Phillips, Stuart M. (2010). The science of muscle hypertrophy: making dietary protein count. The Summer Meeting of the Nutrition Society. Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. Retrieve from journals.cambridge.org.
Wilson, J and Wilson, G. (2006). Contemporary issues in protein requirements and consumption for resistance trained athletes. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 3(1): 7-27. Retreived from http://www.biomedcentral.com.
Stark, M. Lucaszuk, J., Prawitz, A., & Salacinski, A. (2012) Protein timing and its effects on muscular hypertrophy and strength in individuals engaged in weight-training. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Retrieved from http://www.jissn.com/content/9/1/54.