Whether you just put in a hard 20 mile run, sweated your butt off in a heated yoga class or just spent an hour tearing it up at the gym, you need to make sure what you put into your body immediately after will help you recover. Recovery drinks are all the craze and with good reason. A hard exercise will leave you depleted and in need of nourishment.
Protein is important for recovery and repair of muscles after a hard workout. In fact, many sports nutritionists recommend getting 20 grams of protein right after you complete vigorous exercise. So should you consume animal protein or plant protein? Most places you look will tell you animal protein is by far the better choice since it is considered a complete protein—meaning meat contains all the essential amino acids your body needs. Yes that is important. However, there are plant sources which also contain all the essential amino acids needed. Two very popular plant based additions to your smoothies should be hemp seeds and chia seeds. Although many vegan protein mixes already contain both, I like to add additional hemp seeds for good measure since after 20 miles, I know my muscles can use all the omega-3 amino acids they can get.
Smoothies are easy to make. Seriously, 5 minutes is all you need. Get home, make yourself a recovery smoothie and then hop in the shower. It will keep you full for a few hours while you rest and relax a little.
Just throw everything in your Vitamix or high-powered blender, blend for 30 seconds and drink. I make a lot of smoothies, so consider myself a mini smoothie-ista. First let's talk about your smoothie vehicle. If you are on a budget, absolutely get a regular blender or a Nutribullet. I recently saw a side-by-side comparison of a smoothie made with a Vitamix and one made with a Nutribullet. Big difference. But, if all you are doing is making smoothies then certainly go with the less expensive option. Another item to note is my favorite vegan protein powder mix—Vega. It was designed by Brendan Brazier, a vegan Ironman and an ultrarunner. Need I say more? And my last bit of advice is to always add greens. A handful of spinach is my favorite. You can't taste it and it provides additional plant protein and a blast of iron. Trust me, put it in there.
And that's how you recover from a hard workout! You don't have to be vegan to love this drink either. Think of all the meat and dairy you consume on a daily basis. Why not have plant powered options in there to complete and round out your diet?
Time: 5 minutes
1 medium banana, peeled
6 frozen strawberries
1/2 c. frozen mango chunks
1 scoop vanilla Vega Protein Smoothie mix (or your favorite vanilla flavored protein mix)
2 tsp. hemp seeds
1 cup (handful) fresh baby spinach
1 c. unsweetened almond milk
1/2 c. filtered water
Using a high powered blender like a Vitamix, add all ingredients into blender in order listed. Starting on low, ramp up blender and blend for 30 seconds or until completely smooth. Serve immediately. Makes one serving.
Nutritional Estimations: Calories 348. Total Fat 6 g. Cholesterol 0 mg. Sodium 321 mg. Potassium 714 mg. Total Carbs 60 g. Fiber 9 g. Sugars 40 g. Protein 20 g. Vitamin A 28%. Vitamin C 107%. Calcium 56%. Iron 36%.