When it comes to working out, recovery is important. Recovery doesn’t just mean taking a break; it includes a variety of support including stretching, sleeping, hydrating and refueling with healthy food. Intense exercise creates oxidative damage in the body – a normal process that you have support for if you treat yourself correctly. This is where anti-inflammatory foods are your friend: they can help speed up the recovery process and reduce inflammation and soreness in your body. Recovery foods should be quick, simple, and balanced for the right macros and anti-inflammatory ingredients. My calming post-workout smoothie is the recovery drink you need post run, cycle, weights, hike, sports, or swim!
I’m so into all things anti-inflammatory right now… so much in fact that, aside from this blog post, I also wrote an entire book about it! Here’s a link for the Anti-inflammatory Diet Meal Prep book if you need more support in this area.
Why a post-workout smoothie?
When you get finished with an intense workout, nothing is more nourishing than a cold, frothy fruit smoothie. Plus, it’s a quick and easy way to get nutrients fast. Anti-inflammatory foods packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are important post-workout. Your body has worked hard and it needs to be replenished. Antioxidants in fruits, veggies and different herbs and spices actually help quench free radicals which can cause cellular damage in the body and calm and cool irritation. Including nutrient-rich foods including berries, green vegetables, nuts/seeds, beans/legumes, whole grains and spices such as turmeric and cinnamon is very helpful in recovery. These foods provide support for the body by restoring cellular health and quenching free radicals.
The word ‘irritation’ is exactly how I describe inflammation in the body. If you cut your hand, it’s red and hot and painful, that’s inflammation you can see. You know when your muscles get really sore? Or when you know you’ve pushed it too hard in a workout? That’s created inflammation inside the body. The way I know I’ve gone too hard is that I get really physically exhausted or really sore. Generally I have a lot of energy but if I go super hard on a workout, I know I need to rest and refuel. Be sure to tell me in the comments: how do you know that you need support post-workout?
Nutrients to help reduce inflammation
A good balance of macronutrients, carbohydrates, fat and protein is a good place to start. Planning the timing of these nutrients around exercise is important to really help with fueling and recovery. Carbs give your muscles energy, so it is good to have these as a pre-workout snack and post-workout to help rebuild energy storage. In this smoothie – bananas and berries really help support and fuel the body in an-inflammatory way that also provides energy and vitamins your body needs. Especially post-workout you definitely want some protein in there, especially if you’re trying to build muscle or maintain your muscle mass. Personally, I’m no runner but I’m super into lifting weights. I need to make sure to fuel my body with protein from the foods I eat to help my muscles rebuild after a hard workout. Greek yogurt is a great source of protein and you can even add in some protein powder if you want to double down.
Making a post-workout smoothie
This part is simple! You literally blend and go, but let’s talk more about the ingredients in this smoothie and how you can adjust them to work best for you:
The recipe calls for banana and blueberries, but you can use whatever fruits you like best. Plus, you can use fresh or frozen, they both have an excellent nutrient profile.
The frozen banana definitely does add some great texture, so here’s how I make sure to always have them on hand. I buy a bunch of bananas and I let them get pretty ripe on the counter. I lay out plastic wrap in pieces then I peel the bananas and set them individually on the plastic and wrap them up. I stick them in the freezer and depending on their size, I can grab a whole one or easily rip one in half to use in a smoothie. Alternatively, I love using them in oats. This Banana Ginger Oats recipe is a perfect example of how to use frozen bananas.
This recipe gets its protein from greek yogurt. If you are avoiding dairy for any reason, you can certainly use a non-dairy yogurt option. It is important to read the labels here though, because many non-dairy yogurts are not high in protein and can contain a lot of added sugars. Soy yogurt is a great, high-protein option. Siggis also has a wonderful coconut yogurt fortified with protein powder now.
You are also welcome to add in some protein powder, if you want to maximize the protein in this smoothie. There are good non-dairy options including pea and soy protein, and whey is a great option if dairy works for you. This is another place to look carefully at the ingredients to find the best option for you.
When you’re active, it’s so important to hydrate. Plain water can sometimes get boring, so you can also help hydrate your body with other fluids like the liquid in this smoothie. If this is an issue for you I wrote a blog post about How to drink more water when you don’t like it.
Other post-workout smoothie variations
All my recipes are versatile. You can absolutely make them what you want them to be.
- Greens and vegetables: Spinach is what I used but you could easily use kale, arugula or even frozen cauliflower instead. A little goes a long way so just use 1/2 cup or less to freshen up the smoothie.
- Spices: The ground turmeric and ginger are really important as well. These are the key anti-inflammatory spices but hey, you can absolutely adjust if you want less or more of these flavors.
- Other add-ins: Adding in chia, flax or hemp seeds is a great option for more protein and healthy, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. There’s nothing more energizing than that.
Dietitians can really help you understand exactly what you need for your unique workouts so make sure to contact me or one of my colleagues around the country so you can stay hydrated and energized during these workouts.
Need more smoothie recipes?
I’ve got tons for you! My Peanut Butter Pumpkin Spice smoothie and my Vegan Pumpkin Spice Smoothie are different but you can make them both any time of the year. Canned pumpkin is full of antioxidant vitamin A.
This Wild Blueberry Matcha smoothie has that green tea caffeine punch that actually enhances workouts so this one is also so anti-inflammatory (and delicious).
Finally, I have the perfect green smoothie for you that actually tastes really good (and not ‘green’). And if you want something really unique, try my Melon Vanilla smoothie! You won’t be disappointed.
- 1/4 cup blueberries
- 1/2 ripe banana
- 1/2 cup fresh baby spinach
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (non-dairy is fine too!)
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add more water (regular or unsweetened coconut) if needed for consistency. Enjoy!
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Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO
Thanks for visiting! If you’re like me: obsessed with eating, wine, going out and traveling, you’re in the right place. Champagne Nutrition® LLC is a Registered Dietitian-run concierge virtual practice helping clients look and feel better. On this blog, you’ll ﬁnd cocktails, mocktails, and plant-based recipes that are easy to make quickly at home and pack for leftovers on your adventures.
I’m hoping this is diabetic friendly, I have neuropathy , tryna feel better. still learning. gonna try this tomorrow. sounds delicious!!
Oh great – yes, it kind of depends on how you react to fruit but there’s no other added sugar in here. I hope it’s a win for you 🙂