Smoothies: Easy Breakfast for Athletes

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Smoothies get a bad rap in the health world. This is due to the fact that a lot of places, like Jamba Juice, put in juices and large amounts of fruit without any other nutrients. Also a a lot of juices that use only fruit or vegetables strip them of their nutrients that the body needs. Learning how to make a smoothie the right way can be a game changer especially for athletes that have trouble getting in breakfast before a morning workout. They can be a super easy meal to make the night before and leave in the fridge for the next day. Even college athletes can make smoothies by purchasing a super cheap 10$ personal nutribullet for their dorm rooms.

To make a smoothie a good option it needs to be composed well and to be nutrient dense. That means that it needs to be well balanced. You have to think about it like this: would you eat 4 pieces of fruit for a snack? No, you wouldn’t, so you definitely shouldn’t put that amount of fruit in your smoothie. A key tip for making a smart smoothie is think of it as you would think a meal. You have to have some protein, some carbohydrate, and some fat.

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Here is a simple guide to making a great smoothie for breakfast or post-exercise snack:

1. Use only one serving of fruit in the smoothie. You will be adding natural sweetness to the mix without wasting all of your daily fruit servings in a smoothie. The fruit will bring in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and based on the fruit it may even have some antioxidants! A serving size of fruit is 1 small apple, 1 cup sliced banana, 1 large peach, 1 cup sliced strawberries, or 1 cup pineapple chunks.

2. NO JUICE! You want to use a liquid in your smoothie that isn’t juice since juice provides no nutritional value. A few good options are skim milk, almond milk, or soy milk. You get protein and a few vitamins utilizing milk over juice and water.

3. Don’t forget your two friends: fat and protein. Fat and protein will help keep you full for a long period of time. This is what is missing in smoothies at commercial places usually and is why you are still hungry after a smoothie. Good options for these include 1-2 tbsp nut butter like Justins, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 avocado, protein powder (make sure NCAA compliant if you are a college athlete through your school’s sports dietitian), 1/2 cup cottage cheese, chia seeds, or raw nuts.

4. Throw in some vegetables. This will provide an extra addition of fiber along with the fruit. You don’t have to pile it on, but throw in some spinach or kale leaves to keep you fuller for longer. Plus you don’t really taste the vegetables! It blends in pretty well with all of the other ingredients.

5. If you want to get super creative, you can boost it with some extra flavors. Simple ideas are raw cocoa, cinnamon, ginger, cardamon, or mint.

I personally like to make smoothies all the time because I love forming creative flavor combinations. One of my most recent creations is the PB&J smoothie. It contains 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 1 large tbsp Justin’s honey almond butter, 1 cup mashed strawberries, a few ice cubes, a handful of kale, and 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk. Just like my smoothie, you can have so much fun with these since there are a ton of flavor combinations.

Just remember to not replace all your meals with smoothies. Save smoothies for when you need a quick breakfast option or a meal replacement for a time that you skip a meal. Mix it up!

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