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    Ask the Chef: Workout Smoothies Part 2

    By Julie Morris, Navitas Organics Executive Chef | January 28, 2013

    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:
    In our last article, we covered some strategies for pre-workout smoothies. This week,we'll look at how to create a highly-functional post-workout smoothie.

    Part Two: Post-Workout Smoothies

    In many ways, it could be argued that ensuring proper nutrition AFTER a workout is actually more important than before. The reason is simple: exercise breaks the body down... all so it can build itself back up stronger. Providing cells with optimum nutrition during this rebuilding stage not only maximizes our efforts to rebuild a "better body," but minimizes the amount of time spent recovering. This accelerated recovery allows for more efficient future workouts and at a faster rate, which all contributes to elevated fitness. From those brand new to exercise all the way up to top level athletes, EVERYONE can benefit in strength and stamina through the practice of proper post-workout nutrition.

    The reason smoothies are so ubiquitous in this important stage is simple: they are the easiest way to ensure all your body's needs are being met! But with a focus on recovery, putting together a post work-out smoothie is quite different than a pre-workout one. Use these concepts to rebuild:

    Always include protein - After a workout is the best time to consume protein, which is essential for muscle repair. Many experts point to the best sources of post-exercise protein as whole food, plant-based proteins: these sources are easier for the body to digest, and far less inflammatory. Smoothie-friendly protein-rich ingredients include hemp (both hemp protein powder and hemp seeds), protein-packed superberries like goji berries and mulberries, nuts and seeds, and even leafy greens. Remember: the body cannot store protein, so excess levels must be eliminated by the kidneys. Though there is no magic number to how much protein can be absorbed in one sitting, most people find that around 15-25 grams is a good balance, and an excess of 30g at a time begins to become counter-productive.

    Fat - Also important to cellular repair is the inclusion of healthy fats. Good fat lubricates the joints, supports cardiovascular health, and can even decrease inflammation. The best post-workout fats are a balanced medley of essential fatty acids (omega 3, 6, and 9). Using "friendly fat" foods like hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed, and even acai is an excellent strategy for faster recovery.

    Antioxidants - Though antioxidants are always important, some kinds of antioxidants specifically help increase blood circulation... a crucial component to ensuring nutrients are being delivered to hungry cells, and supporting long-term cardiovascular health. The antioxidant benefits of pomegranate, acai, maqui, and cacao are being increasingly studied as post-workout powerhouses.

    Vitamins, Minerals, and Electrolytes - Especially after cardiovascular exercise, micronutrient levels are significantly depleted, having been used up and/or sweated out. Superfoods like wheatgrass, leafy greens, and electrolyte-rich coconut water can help to quickly restore balance to the body. Vitamin C is an especially important vitamin to include (and camu berry is nature's most concentrated source!), as it helps to protect the immune system which can become compromised through strenuous activity.

    Adaptogens - Ask almost any nutritionally in-the-know athlete, and they will tout the benefits of using adaptogenic foods, like maca powder. Maca specifically supports the adrenal glands, and helps to balance and protect against stress. Additionally, it aids in strength and stamina, making it one of the very best recovery foods around.

    Remember, in many ways, a post-workout smoothie is in fact a pre-pre-workout smoothie -- setting the body up for success for the next workout on the schedule, all while contributing greatly to any and all fitness goals. Try this Chocolate Berry Protein Smoothie for a delicious start to recovery. Happy training!

    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.