Whip It Good: The Best Post-Exercise Smoothies

To get the most from your nutrition, toss it into a blender and drink up

June 8, 2012
The best smoothies for exercise
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Smoothies make ideal post-exercise treats. Depending on where you seek refreshment, though, you could end up with a calorie- and sugar-packed slushy. Get out your blender instead. "With the right ingredients, smoothies can jump-start recovery by providing carbs, protein, essential fatty acids, electrolytes, and antioxidants," says Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, owner of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition in Jacksonville, Florida. (Search: What do electrolytes do?) Pick at least one ingredient from each category of our smoothie builder on the following page to create the perfect shake.

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Vitamix blender
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Give It a Whirl

Four tips for a smoother smoothie operation:

Maintain order: Liquids first, then the soft stuff, frozen last. Sticky ingredients go in after an initial blend.

Don't water down: Use frozen fruit instead of ice cubes for undiluted, frosty-thick results .

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Blend and gulp: Smoothies don't store well. Case in point: Drinks containing yogurt will separate.

Splurge for horsepower: The superversatile Vitamix 5200 Standard makes quick work of frozen fruit ($449). If that's not in your budget, opt for the Oster 14-speed blender ($60).

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Step 1: Pour the Foundation

1 cup milk of choice (adjust amount accordingly). A study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that drinking fat-free milk postworkout promotes muscle gain and fat loss

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ricotta cheese
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Step 2: Reinforce with Protein

Ricotta cheese: Contains whey protein, which bolsters muscle repair after a ride.

Silken (soft) tofu: Provides soy protein and a milk-shake consistency.

Greek yogurt: Twice the protein of regular yogurt, for a more satisfying smoothie

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Pomegranate juice
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Step 3: Add Sweet Touches

100% pomegranate juice: The phytonutrients ease muscle soreness.

Frozen fruit: Most, especially berries, contain high levels of antioxidants.

Pumpkin puree: Beta-carotene revs up immunity and promotes good vision

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almond butter
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Step 4: Fat it Out

Almond butter: Has calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus for strong bones.

Ground flaxseed: Supplies a healthy dose of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat.

Walnuts: Heart-healthy omega-3 fats, and magnesium for muscles.

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Step 5: Boost Flavor

Matcha: Contains 137 times more antioxidants than regular green tea.

Spices: Offer flavor and powerful antioxidants without the calories

Cocoa powder (natural or raw): Flavonoids for improved endurance.

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coconut water
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Step 6: Opt for Upgrades

Coconut water: Low in calories but rich in potassium, an electrolyte lost in sweat.

Coffee: Speeds glycogen replacement when paired with carbs postride.

Wheat germ: The most vitamin- and mineral-packed part of the wheat kernel Store it in the fridge or freezer to maintain freshness.

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banana mocha smoothie
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Smoothie Recipe: Banana Mocha

Replenishes glycogen stores and increases endurance.

1 cup milk
 ½ cup coffee (cooled)
 ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon almond butter
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 frozen banana
357 calories, 11g fat, 49g carbs, 5g fiber, 23g protein

Did you know bananas are as good as sports drinks for exercise? Learn more here!

blueberry almond smoothie
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Smoothie Recipe: Blueberry Almond

Strengthens bones and fights free radicals.

1½ cups milk
½ cup ricotta cheese
½ cup frozen blueberries
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 tablespoon wheat germ
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
351 calories, 11 grams fat, 44g carbs, 4g fiber, 26g protein

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Green Tea Ginger Smoothie
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Smoothie Recipe: Green Tea Ginger

Speeds up metabolism and protects the heart.

1 cup milk
½ cup coconut water
½ cup silken tofu
 ½ cup frozen mango cubes
 2 tablespoons walnut pieces
½ teaspoon matcha
½ teaspoon ground ginger
309 calories, 13g fat, 36g carbs, 4g fiber, 17g protein

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pumpkin spice smoothie
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Smoothie Recipe: Pumpkin Spice

Boosts immunity and replaces electrolytes.

1 cup milk
½ cup coconut water
½ cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons walnut pieces
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
292 calories, 10g fat, 30g carbs, 5g fiber, 22g protein

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