By: Angela Simpson
If you’re an early-morning runner, you’ve probably got a few go-to breakfasts in your post-run nutrition routine. But are you covering all the bases to maximize recovery and prepare your body for your next run? In my years of experience as a runner, I’ve found that the easiest way to do this is with smoothies. Not only are they quick to make, but you can also add all sorts of ingredients that promote healing and recovery. This Banana Blueberry Smoothie is one of my favourites, and before we get to the recipe, I’m going to break it down and explain why I’ve included each ingredient.
Super simple and cheap, but oh so good for you! Bananas contain potassium, an electrolyte that needs replenishing after exercise. They’re also a clean carb source with natural sugars, and can generally be digested easily. Bananas are a higher-GI fruit, but they do a fantastic job of replenishing our glycogen levels post-run.
Like many other berries, blueberries are low in calories (only about 60 per cup), yet still deliver a hefty punch of nutrition. Blueberries get their lovely deep colour from antioxidants called anthocyanins, which are believed to help prevent cancer and may also promote post-run muscle repair. Fresh or frozen, berries are great to have on-hand for building nutritious breakfasts, whether it’s smoothies, parfaits, fruit salads, or mixing into oatmeal or cereal.
A favourite amongst many runners, oats provide a combination of carbs and fiber. They’re also rich in zinc and B vitamins, which help to boost our mood and make us feel happy (just in case your post-run endorphins aren’t enough!) Oats are a whole grain, and therefore don’t cause a rapid spike in blood sugar as refined grains do. Since they are higher in fiber and digest more slowly than simple carbs, oats will help to keep you feeling satisfied. In this smoothie, I’ve included bananas (faster-digesting, to quickly replenish glycogen stores) and oats (slower digesting, to provide a more sustained source of energy for your body to use throughout the day.)
As you likely already know, our bodies need protein to build and sustain muscle mass. As we work out, (particularly if you’re strength training), small tears form in our muscles that need to be repaired. It’s also important to remember that if we haven’t fueled properly with carbohydrates, our bodies may start to burn precious muscle. This is where protein comes in. I’m a big advocate of the “whole foods first, supplements second” mentality, but when time is limited and you don’t have whole food protein sources on hand, protein powder is a great alternative. My preferences are Promasil (whey, sweetened with stevia, no artificial sweeteners, gluten and soy free), and Vega Sport(plant-based, vegan friendly, gluten free, allergen free, no artificial sweeteners).
As runners, we’re no strangers to sweat. When we sweat, we lose electrolytes (specifically sodium and potassium) which our bodies need to reduce muscle cramping and function optimally. Drinking water helps to re-hydrate our bodies, but straight-up water is missing these electrolytes. Coconut water not only provides them, but also delivers plenty of naturally-occurring vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that help to replenish energy levels post-run.
Flaxseed contains those lovely omega-3 essential fatty acids that you’ve probably heard we need to eat more of. Omega-3s are found in oily fish like salmon and sardines, as well as enriched dairy, but these sources aren’t suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Flaxseed provides omega-3s in plant-based form, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
I’m a cinnamon-a-holic, but this spice has a lot more going for it than just taste! Cinnamon prevents blood clotting and helps to promote healthy blood flow. It also has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties.
And now for that recipe!
Breakfast in a Glass: Banana Blueberry Recovery Smoothie
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 tbsp old fashioned oats (use gluten free oats if necessary)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 cup coconut water
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp flax seeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1. Combine all ingredients except for ice in a blender and whirl until almost smooth.
2. Add the ice (about 5-6 cubes should be enough) and continue blending again until smooth. Add more ice (to thicken) or coconut water (to thin) as necessary.
3. Pour into a tall glass and enjoy!
Makes 1 large serving
So tell me…. What are some of your favourite smoothie recipes?
Angela is an avid runner, fitness instructor, foodie, healthy living blogger, and owner of her business, Spin 360 Health Coaching. Having been overweight, unhappy and insecure as a teenager, Angela took control, changed her unhealthy habits, and adopted a clean eating lifestyle that she continues to maintain today. Her goal is to support, inspire, and motivate others to improve their health and be their best.
You can learn more about Angela on her blog, Eat Spin Run Repeat.
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