The Best Post-Workout Smoothie Recipes And Juices? Post-Workout Foods That Work!
What should you focus on in the best post-workout smoothie recipes or in the juices you prepare before exercising? It doesn't matter if you are into serious training or simply using exercise to remain healthy, lose weight and keep your metabolism fired up. In both instances balanced, optimal nutrition with an adequate supply of fruits and veggies can help you to make the most of your workout time and enjoy it more.
I have often been asked if it is a good idea to prepare a vegetable juice or a smoothie just before or just after a workout. And, if so, which fruits and veggies to use.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients and phytochemicals that may help your body to handle exercise better and to recover quicker. You need to make sure that you restock on carbs, amino acids and electrolytes after exercise in order to help your body to recover from the strain of a workout with weights or a run.
For instance, carbohydrates right after exercising can help your muscles to restore glycogen or sugar (energy) stores sooner.
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There are a number of ways in which juicing or a smoothie recipe may help you before and after a workout...
- Increasing endurance
- Juices are super-easy to absorb
- No energy-draining digestive processes required
- Can replace electrolytes
- Could reduce muscle soreness and damage
- May help with muscle repair
- Energy restoring
- Reducing inflammation
- Can reduce muscle cramps
Here are some fruits and vegetables you can experiment with in smoothies and juices...
Love that juicy slightly tart 'tang' you get when you bite into a juicy apple? That is thanks to the malic acid in apples! Studies have shown that malic acid may be beneficial in a variety of ways. These include revving up energy levels as it helps to provide your cells with energy, helping with muscle strength during a workout and aiding recovery afterwards.
Malic acid has become known for the vital role it plays in the Krebs cycle in your body. The Krebs cycle refers to a series of biochemical reactions in your body during which things like proteins, carbs and fats are converted into the energy all your cells need and use daily. Malic acid is one of the substances required to ensure an effective energy production cycle in your body.
Malic acid can also help to lift tiredness in general and can help you to think more clearly. In addition it is excellent for your skin and is often found in skin preparations as it can reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Another biggie is that it can bind to toxic metals, helping your body to get rid of these. This means that it can be a good detoxifying agent.
Other fruit and vegetable sources of malic acid:
- Kiwi fruit
Not only is pineapple another excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin C, but it is well-known for its bromelain content. The bromelain in pineapples can reduce both pain, swelling and inflammation after exercise and help with healing.
It is a very effective remedy for arthritis-related problems, as well as for bruising and spraining. A bonus is that it can help your digestive system to function better, as it is one of the digestive enzymes.
The beta-carotene in carrots is an antioxidant that could help to prevent or repair some of the damaging effects of really strenuous exercise. Carrot juice can also give sustained energy, but remember to have some healthy oil with it such as nuts or flax seed oil. By doing this, you will lower the Glycemic Index or GI of the juice, which is good news for your blood sugar. This will also help you to increase absorption of the beta-carotene, as it is a fat-soluble nutrient.
Other fruit and vegetable options that are rich in beta-carotene include broccoli, butternut, spinach, kale and sweet potatoes.
Did you know that beets may increase your endurance and help you to use oxygen more efficiently? Researchers such as Professor Andy Jones of the University of Exeter has been looking into the benefits of beetroot juice during exercise.
One important point: Do not start out with pure beet juice! It is sensible to take things slow and get used to its punch! Dilute it by adding other fruits and veggies to your recipe. You can slowly increase the beetroot quantity over time. Beet can be very potent on its own, so toning it down is a good idea! I enjoy mixing it with a selection that includes any of these: cucumber, a bit of lemon or lime, an apple or pear, celery or carrots.
The nitrates in beets and other veggies are converted into nitric oxide (NO) in your body. This has a number of possible health benefits, including dilating blood vessels and thus enhancing blood flow and lowering blood pressure. In addition, it seems to reduce the oxygen demand of muscles during workouts. This can add to endurance, enabling you to keep going for longer.
Folks who use beet juice before an exercise session, say that it ups their energy far better than so-called 'sports drinks'.
Other fruit and vegetable sources of nitrates
- Green beans
- Chinese cabbage
For post-workout hydration and electrolyte replacement, a juice containing celery may work wonders! Celery is rich in potassium, sodium and other minerals, which can top-up depleted stores of these electrolytes. It can help to reduce muscle cramps and speed up your recovery after an intense period of exercise. Bananas are another good source of potassium (see smoothie recipe below).
Another bonus is that celery is superb for weight loss, water retention and has been found to reduce food cravings. It also have an alkalizing effect on your body. And a stick is yummy to chew on if you spread it with some natural peanut butter!
6. All fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C and vitamin E
These give your body more antioxidant clout to fight oxidative stress due to aerobic exercise. They are known for their tissue protecting properties and will therefore help to reduce some of the muscle damage that can follow strenuous exercise. These antioxidants can also play a role in reducing the time you need to recover from exercise. Their anti-inflammatory and immune strengthening working will also be beneficial.
Target fruits and veggies such as peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, guavas, spinach and kiwi fruit. You can also snack on some almonds or sunflower seeds together with your juice, for more vitamin E and a muscle restoring protein and magnesium boost after exercise. Nuts and seeds will also help to improve your absorption of fat-soluble nutrients in juices.
7. Fruits and vegetables rich in magnesium
These can assist with nerve function and will be good for your muscle-health in general. Magnesium-rich foods also play a role in energy production. So, stock up on papaya, sweet potatoes, greens, peas, bananas, etc.
While bananas in juices don't work so well, they are superb for making after-workout smoothies. As they offer a good supply of both magnesium and potassium, they can help you to fight fatigue and will benefit your muscles greatly. By using them (plus other fruits) together with yogurt and some ground nuts in a smoothie, you will have an excellent energy-restoring combination of carbs, minerals, protein and healthy fats to enjoy (see recipe below).
On a side note...
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Pre- And Post-Workout Smoothie And Juice Recipes
Exercise Booster Juice
1/2 to 1 Medium beet (greens discarded)
2 Ribs celery
Handful baby spinach leaves
Handful fresh parsley
1. Discard carrot greens
2. Wash the ingredients carefully
3. Trim carrot ends
4. Peel beet thinly and discard skin. Cut into chunks
5. Juice, adding the parsley and spinach with the carrots for best results
6. Pour over crushed ice and serve
Post-Workout Refresher Juice
6 Ribs or stalks of celery
1/3 Medium cucumber
Optional: 1 inch fresh ginger
1. Wash all the ingredients carefully
2. Cut celery into lengths if required
3. Quarter apples and pear. Don't peel, but discard seeds
4. Peel lime thinly, discarding skin. Halve
5. Peel cucumber only if waxed, as the skin is nutrient-rich
6. Juice, adding the ginger with the apples or pear
Post-Workout Power Juice
1/3 Medium cucumber
Handful of parsley
4 Ribs of celery
5 Kale leaves
1/2 to 1 Lime (according to taste)
Large handful berries
1. Discard carrot greens
2. Wash all your ingredients
3. Peel cucumber only if waxed
4. Bunch up kale leaves for juicing
5. Peel lime thinly, discard skin. Segment as necessary
6. Trim carrot ends
7. Quarter apples. Don't peel, but discard seeds
8. Remove any stray stems or leaves from berries
9. Juice, adding kale with the carrots for best results
10. Pour over crushed ice and serve
1 Banana (frozen)
Handful of mixed berries
3 to 4 Thick slices pineapple (peeled and quartered)
2 to 3 Heaped teaspoons ground flax seeds or ground almonds
1 Cup yogurt or low-fat milk
1 Tablespoon honey as a sweetener
Process or blend thoroughly in a blender until thick and smooth. If you prefer a really creamy consistency, you can reduce the yogurt by half. You can also blend in some ice cubes if you wish.
There you have one of the best post-workout smoothie recipes!
I hope you have enjoyed this small taste of the fruits and vegetables that can help you before and after a workout! Have fun exercising!
> From the juicing for health desk of Rika Susan
1. Unlocking the power of beetroot
2. Research into the health benefits of beetroot juice