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Navitas Organics Blog

Ask the Chef: Workout Smoothies Part 1

Posted by Julie Morris, Navitas Organics Executive Chef on Jan 20, 2013 10:30:53 PM

Question:

I just started training for my first triathalon. I love the Smoothment and am wanting to use it to energize my new workouts. Can you recommend the best smoothies to have before a workout? And also after a workout?

- Brian F.

Answer:
Great question! This will answered in a two-part series, because pre-workout smoothies and post-workout smoothies are very different.

Part One: Pre-workout Smoothies

Having a smoothie before a workout can be a great way to ensure your body is properly fueled and hydrated to handle the activities ahead. Your body is going to be burning fuel rapidly, and blood needs to be circulating throughout the body very efficiently (and not focused on the stomach for digestion). Because of this, pre-workout smoothies are a little different then your average mid-day meal replacement blender drink… and even more different than a post-workout smoothie. To fully understand how to set yourself up for success in the realm of an active lifestyle, there are 3 major concepts to keep in mind when building a premium blender drink:

Focus on carbohydrates - Fat and protein are important parts of a healthy diet, but not before a workout (in large quantities). The reason? They're much more difficult for the body to digest! (Cramps, anyone?) Using low-fiber fruits like bananas, and superfoods like goji berries as the bulk of a smoothie base ensures easy digestion. Adding a BIT of high quality fat and protein - just enough to slow the release of these carbs -- is a good idea; superfoods like chia seeds and acai, and even a little bit of coconut oil, are ideal smoothie ingredients because they offer anti-inflammatory compounds in addition to their healthy fats. Just don't overdo it: a tablespoon or two (max) is more than enough.

Include simple sugars - Even one step further than just carbohydrates is the subject of sugar itself. Especially when preparing longer bouts of endurance, this is the one time where sugars are not “the enemyâ€â€¦ they are an active body's best friend! During a workout, your body is using glucose at a rapid speed; hence, providing it with foods that are comprised of sugar in different forms - glucose, as well as sucrose and fructose -- ensures you will be fueled with both long-term and short-term energy. Glucose-rich foods like dates are ideal to include, especially when used in conjunction with mineral-rich coconut sugar, which is primarily sucrose. Since these simple sugars are so easy for the body to digest, you'll find your energy during activity to be very accessible. The longer/more intense your workouts, the more this rule applies.

Stay hydrated - It's essential to be properly hydrated well before a workout begins (you should never start an activity if you're feeling thirsty! Hydrate first, and wait at least 15 minutes to begin.) For this reason, it's a good idea to keep the liquids used in a smoothie very simple - most of the time filtered water is the best thing there is. Coconut water can also be used, especially on hot days or in humid environments.

Remember, everyone is different, every activity is different, and your smoothie will likely go through many tweaks as your workout changes. More than perhaps any type of smoothie, a pre-workout smoothie is best when tailored to the needs of your body and finding “what works.†Most people find that drinking a small, 8-16 ounce smoothie anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes before a workout is a good roadmap to begin with… but again, be flexible to what feels best. Here's a great acai smoothie recipe we served up at the San Francisco Marathon, specifically designed for runners before their race! San Francisco Marathon Smoothie

Check back next week when we feature the all-important post-workout smoothie!

Have a superfood smoothie question of your own? Ask away! Just post it below and we may feature it in an upcoming segment of Ask The Chef.

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