Getting enough vitamins and nutrients in your diet is not easy these days. There never seem to be enough hours in the day to consume what you need to consume, especially when you throw in long hours at work, the commute and family commitments. And, let’s be honest, the ever-present lure of TV or social media.
As a result, it’s understandable that most of us find ourselves slumped on the sofa post-workout, having eaten or drunk absolutely nothing at all.
But getting the right nutrition into your body after exercise will boost your body’s recovery. By consuming the right things, you’ll help refill your muscles’ energy stores, reduce inflammation, boost metabolism, and build muscle bulk. Studies (opens in new tab) have shown that the ideal amount of protein you require is 20-40g post-workout to maximise recovery. All you need is some healthy ingredients, protein powder and a protein shake blender. Or, if you're not fussy, any blender really.
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Why should you drink protein smoothies?
Nutrition in liquid form is one of the best ways to get carbohydrates and protein into your body, as it can be digested quickly. Research (opens in new tab) has shown that fast-digesting protein sources promote post-exercise anabolism faster than slower-digesting sources.
The best way to achieve this is to whizz up some protein powder in a delicious smoothie within 30 minutes of exercising. To do this properly, you’ll need a protein shake blender which makes it easy to quickly blend a healthy smoothie, especially if you’re on the go.
We asked fitness and nutrition expert Penny Weston (opens in new tab) and Stuart Roberts, fitness coach and nutritionist at Get Strong, Fit & Happy (opens in new tab), to recommend some of their favourite smoothie recipes and tell us why each one is a protein powerhouse for our bodies and how they can boost recovery after a tough session.
Post-workout plant-based protein smoothie
- 1 banana
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 40g vegan vanilla protein
- 2 cups plant-based Greek-style yoghurt
- 10g maca powder
“Maca is a plant from Peru, and its root is ground to a powder for use as a superfood supplement,” says Weston. “It has an earthy, nutty, almost caramel flavour, best hidden in creamy vanilla or chocolate recipes. The benefits of maca are becoming more well-known. A few years ago, you would have to buy it from Amazon and have it shipped in from abroad, but now I’ve seen it in for sale in Aldi and Tesco.”
It’s low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, calcium, potassium and iron. “Research has revealed maca’s hormone-balancing and symptom-soothing properties. Maca root powder is an adaptogen, supporting your whole endocrine system to produce the right amounts of hormones you need. It can even help your body adapt to stressful situations that might otherwise deplete your body’s hormone production and affect your mood.”
- 40g vanilla protein
- ½ banana
- 2 pitted dates
- 75g yoghurt
- 1tsp maca powder
- Pinch of pink salt
- 100ml unsweetened almond milk
- 1tsp sugar-free caramel syrup (optional)
“This is the perfect smoothie to drink after an intense workout when you need that protein hit plus a boost of energy to keep you from flatlining,” says Weston.
“The nutrient-rich dates help to improve concentration, and the maca powder boosts your energy levels.” This smoothie has more than 40g of protein in it, which will also boost recovery, fuel your energy and keep you feeling full.
Rehydrating post-yoga tropical smoothie
- ½ frozen banana
- 1 cup frozen mango
- ½ cup frozen pineapple
- 1 kiwi, peeled and chopped
- 1tsp chia seeds
- 1tsp flax seeds
- 150ml coconut milk
- Vanilla protein powder
If you’re a yoga fan, this smoothie is the perfect way to recover following a tough session. “You need to rehydrate your muscles after stretching, and coconut water is renowned for its hydrating properties,” says Weston.
“Kiwi is also considered to be one of the healthiest fruits. The chia and flax seeds ensure the drink is packed with omega-3, fibre and protein too to help your muscles recover before the next session.”
- 2 cups frozen blueberries
- 1 banana
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 cup kale
- 1tbsp chia seeds
- 1tsp spirulina
- 40g vanilla protein
- Topped with almond milk
This smoothie is the perfect drink to have at breakfast, packed with vitamins and nutrients to set you up for the day ahead.
“There is so much goodness in this smoothie,” says Weston. “It’s a powerhouse. It will have you glowing from the inside out, as it contains nearly every vitamin and mineral your body needs and gives you a natural boost of energy. I’d recommend using a frozen banana and less milk for a thicker texture.” And despite the inclusion of spinach and kale, Weston reassures us it tastes delicious.
The anti-inflammatory smoothie
- Filtered water (depending on size of your blender – it needs to be ½ full of water)
- 2 scoops of unflavoured protein powder
- 1tsp turmeric powder
- 1tsp ginger powder
- 1tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 diced organic apple
- 2tbsp of organic live yoghurt
Stuart Roberts says that excess inflammation in the body is a prime driver of disease and accelerated ageing. “This delicious smoothie recipe can be enjoyed daily, and it contains ingredients that are proven to help reduce inflammation.”
In terms of the spices included in the recipe, curcumin in turmeric is anti-inflammatory and helps protect the liver from toxins, ginger improves digestion, and cinnamon helps protect against heart disease.