Q: Is it ok to drink a smoothie before doing yoga?
A: Eating before exercise, regardless of activity type, requires a delicate balance: consuming energizing food, while also eating for easy digestion (digestion sucks a huge amount of energy). More than any other time of day, it's good to think â€œnourished,â€ but â€œlight.â€ So what can you consume?
While pre-exercise/pre-yoga may not the time to down an epic 48-ounce meal replacement smoothie with half the produce department stocked inside, small amounts of simple smoothies can be a great pre-yoga fuel choice, as they are hydrating and easy to digest. Here are a few tips:
Fruit before: Fruit provides simple and complex carbohydrates to fuel activity, helping provide the energy you need to maintain poses and push harder. It's also easy to digest. Virtually any type of fruit is fine, including bananas, berries, mangos, and superfruits like acai.
Fat before: Healthy fats, like the ones found in coconuts and hemp, are actually a very easy source of fuel for the body. Adding a little bit of fat in the form of coconut oil, almond butter, or hemp seeds can help extend the energy provided by just fruit aloneâ€¦ especially helpful for longer yoga sessions.
Vegetables after: Green smoothies are undeniably a great daily practice, but the high fiber content in leafy green veggies can take longer to digest, and suck away some of your energy if consumed before a workout. If you can't live without a little green in your smoothie, try wheatgrass powder, which has over 70 vitamins and minerals, a very mild flavor, and is extremely easy to digest -- a little goes a long way.
Protein after: Protein is often the first nutrient people think of when fueling for a workout, but it's actually one of the hardest nutrients for the body to break down. For this reason, we recommend saving your high-protein smoothie ingredients for after yoga class, when your body can fully focus on repair and recovery and make the most use out of the amino acids.
One last thoughtâ€¦ look for foods that increase circulation. Since so much of yoga is about breath and the transportation of oxygen, foods that can further promote the inner â€œflowâ€ will serve to heighten your physical efforts. Circulation-friendly superfoods include maqui powder, cacao powder, spirulina and wheatgrass powder.
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.