The comprehensive guide to post-workout smoothies
There may be days when a peanut butter-banana smoothie hits the spot after boot camp or when strawberry-chocolate calls your name after barre.
But your post-workout smoothie shouldn’t just appeal to your taste buds, explains Megan Hoffman, fitness director of the new-and-chic Oxygen Fitness in New Canaan, Connecticut. It should meet the refueling needs of the workout you just did.
“If you've just hit a spin or a high-intensity interval training class, then you want to replace nutrients and have some protein; if you do hot yoga, then you should sip something super hydrating,” says Hoffman, who created the O Bar juice and smoothie recipes at Oxygen.
“People who don’t refuel after classes miss the opportunity to help their bodies really benefit from the workout. And they’re more likely to snack late at night because they’re still hungry,” she says. So which smoothie is right for your workout? Read on... —Melisse Gelula
Sip on: Coffee, banana, and chocolate protein smoothie
For “major replenishment” after intense cardio workouts, Hoffman recommends a supercharged smoothie with electrolyte-balancing banana, chocolate protein (“you don’t want to burn through your muscle”), and, surprise, a splash of iced coffee. “Cardio doesn’t quite have the long after-burn that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) does, so caffeine can help continue to keep your metabolism revving a bit longer,” she says.
Recipe: Half a frozen banana, ¾ cup of almond milk, ¼ cup iced coffee, 1 scoop chocolate protein (whey or plant-based), ice
Sip on: Kale, green apple, almond, and vanilla protein smoothie
After pulsing, tucking, and toning, Hoffman recommends a nutrient-rich kale-almond-apple smoothie “with loads of calcium for bone health” and fiber to “stave off post-workout hunger and help keep you feeling full.” Why is she into the calcium? “Barre is typically attended by women, who need to focus more on bone health, since we’re more vulnerable to osteoporosis than men. Barre classes and this calcium-rich smoothie do that,” says Hoffman.
Recipe: 1 cup kale, ½ green apple, juice from half a lemon, ½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 scoop vanilla protein (whey or plant-based), 4 ice cubes
Sip on: A banana, almond butter, and chocolate protein smoothie
After a butt-kicking interval class laced with weights, plyometrics, and cardio, yes, you should probably chug some water. But you’d also be wise to replace the carb, fat, and protein stores you’ve burned through, says Hoffman. "If you don't refuel properly, you likely won't make progress: You'll continually break down muscle tissue, and not see strength gains or muscle development, and it could lead to over-training." That’s where banana (carb), almond butter (a healthy fat that also helps cellular function and energy), and chocolate protein for muscle repair come into play.
Recipe: Half a frozen banana, 1 tbsp almond butter, 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 scoop chocolate protein (whey or plant-based), 4 ice cubes.
Sip on: Strawberry-banana smoothie
Some people are really ravenous after strength training, so the fiber in strawberries help fill you up, says Hoffman. They’re also low in sugar and high in antioxidants. A bit of protein helps restore and build muscle. Half a banana helps with electrolyte balance—but watch their sugar. If there’s no sustained cardio, then you don't need to replace your glycogen stores, Hoffman says, and you can skip the extra calories you might enjoy from almond or peanut butter in a smoothie after a HIIT class.
Recipe: Half a frozen banana, ½ cup frozen strawberries, ½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 scoop chocolate protein (whey or plant-based), 4 ice cubes.
Sip on: Watermelon grapefruit juice
You just soaked the floor with your moves or your yoga flow, so hydrate. Hoffman likes a blend of sweet and tart fresh- or cold-pressed fruit, and this one is just 135 calories. “Watermelon is all about rehydration, grapefruit acts as an appetite suppressant (just until dinner), and agave or stevia adds a little sweetness to help balance the bitterness,” she says. Where’s the protein? "Protein is used for muscle repair—not a lot of muscle is being broken down and in need of repair in dance cardio or in yoga," she says.
Recipe: Press or blend 2 cups watermelon (no rind), half a grapefruit, stevia to taste, ice is optional to make it more of a smoothie or slushy
Sip on: Beet carrot apple juice
A 90-minute hot yoga class requires plenty of rehydration to recover. But I find most people, due to the heat and humidity, aren’t necessarily hungry or famished after class, says Hoffman. “I’d go for a juice blend with beets, carrot, apple, ginger, and lemon (135 calories). Beets can help lower blood pressure. They also contain tryptophan, which can help keep you and your mind calm and relaxed long after savasana.”
Recipe: 2 beets with greens, 1 red apple, 3 carrots, 1 inch chunk of ginger, 1/2 lemon (peeled) and juiced