Shake It Up: Smoothies Pack Energy and Help You Recover

Exercising hard day after day tends to cause stiffness and soreness. As an athlete, you have to decide what to eat in order to fuel optimally for your workout session--and also after, to ensure fast recovery. People who strength-train need to figure out how much protein is needed after workouts to aid in recovery, while endurance athletes must decide how much carbohydrate will prevent chronic fatigue or glycogen depletion before the next training day.

Your body stores carbohydrates in very limited amounts in the form of glycogen. During training, glycogen gets used up fast. Recovery involves maximizing glycogen storage capacity, to be adequately prepared for the next workout and to enhance muscle rebuild and restoration.

The enzyme responsible for storing glycogen is elevated immediately after exercise and remains elevated above normal levels for only a short window of time. It is therefore vital to take in an adequate amount of carbohydrates as soon after exercise as possible. Adding some protein to the post-workout meal or snack is also important because it enhances the glycogen uptake and aids in muscle repair. Foods eaten post-exercise require just as much planning as your pre-workout meal. Consuming the appropriate foods, and the timing of post-workout meals will improve your recovery and performance.

Blended drinks score the most points for providing recovery nutrients. Not only are they easy, convenient and nutritious for those on-the-go, but the combination of calories, carbohydrates and protein can easily be adjusted to your individual needs. Overall nutritional recovery intake should include replenishment of calories burned during the training session in a ratio of about 3-to-1 carbohydrates to protein in a readily digestible format.

The ideal carbohydrate and protein combinations can be made using whey powder (for protein) and fruit, yogurt, milk (for the carbohydrate) and maybe some additional goodies like peanut butter, honey or almond extract (for taste).

Here are some great shake recipes to speed up your recovery times:

Green Tea Berry Smoothie

Makes 16 oz serving

  • Approx. ¼ cup water
  • 1 green tea bag
  • 1 tbsp milled flaxseeds
  • ¾ cup frozen mixed berries
  • 4 oz low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • ¼ cup cranberry juice
  • Honey to taste (optional)
Boil water, add teabag, let seep for 3 mins. Meanwhile, blend flaxseed, berries, yogurt and juice until smooth. Squeeze and remove teabag. Add tea to berry mix, and blend again until smooth. Adjust consistency with additional water, and add honey to taste, if desired.

Per Serving = 320 calories, 38g carbs, 8g fat, 2g sat. fat, 14 mg cholesterol, 5g protein, 13g fiber.

You Got a Blackberry Message

Makes 16 oz. serving

  • ½ cup raw oatmeal
  • ¾ cup blackberries
  • 2 tbsp low fat plain yogurt
  • 2 tsp vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseed
  • 4 - 6 ice cubes
Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Per serving = 375 calories, 12g protein, 36g carbs, 2 g fat, 8 g fiber, 34g sodium


Makes 16 oz. serving

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tbsp low fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder ( ¼ cup or ~ 110 calories)
  • 6 to 8 ice cubes
Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Per serving = 370 calories, 15g protein, 45g carbs, 4 g fat, 4 g fiber, 200g sodium

For more smoothie recipes and to share your favorite, click here.

Ilana Katz has a master's degree in dietetics with an emphasis in sports nutrition. She enjoys working with athletes from the elite to recreational. She specializes in body composition and weight management specific to individual goals and needs. Ilana participates in many endurance and team events in order to relate personally to her clientele. She is The Sport Factory's head nutritionist, has worked with many local celebrities, and is the founder of the nutrition program IndiFITualize. You may hear Ilana on the "Bert" radio show (Q100) as well as "Dave FM" in Atlanta.

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