Whether you've got a serious workout routine or are just starting to flirt with fitness, one of the most important (and fun!) things to think about is what to eat or drink before and after you exercise. Food is literal fuel for your body, after all. And a little something before and after working out can not only power you through, but also help build muscle. Our fuel of choice? Smoothies.
Pictured: Almond Berry Smoothie
The best smoothies for pre- and post-workouts include a mix of healthy protein and carbs. Smoothies make an ideal snack or meal before and/or after you exercise since they are portable, endlessly customizable, and will give you a boost without making you feel overly full. For best results, drink up at least 30 minutes before starting your workout and snack on something right after. You can even drink half before your workout and finish the rest afterward. And while smoothies have the added benefit of helping you hydrate, always remember to drink plenty of water as well.
How to Make the Best Workout Smoothies
You can throw a bunch of stuff in the blender and call it a day, but for optimal fitness performance and recovery here are a few things to keep in mind to create the ultimate pre- and post-workout smoothies:
- Pack it with protein. Some great sources of protein for smoothies include yogurt, nuts and nut butters, silken tofu, and milk or soy milk. This will help build muscle—which is a good thing, whether you aspire to be a bodybuilder or are just looking to tone up.
- Opt for energy-boosting add-ins like fruit, oats, and (again) yogurt. Remember, energizing carbs are your friend when you're exercising.
- Don't overdo it. Yes, you're exercising but don't undo all your hard work by slurping down a sugar-packed calorie bomb. So forgo mixing in sugary treats like ice cream or chocolate syrup, and consume a healthy (not monster) serving.
Our Favorite Pre- and Post-Workout Smoothie Recipes
Here are 8 of our favorite smoothie recipes that will fuel your fitness routine whether you enjoy them before or after your workout:
Packed with almond milk, protein powder, flax, chia seeds, banana, and strawberry this smoothie is sure to put a spring in your step. It gets a balanced flavor boost from a dash of vanilla, honey, and cinnamon. "I often find that cinnamon can overpower, but there's just enough in this smoothie to add a little bit of interest. This not only tastes good, but it's also a real winner nutritionally," says lutzflcat.
The combination of peanut butter and banana is classic for a reason, and makes a great smoothie. With just a handful of ingredients (peanut butter, banana, milk, and honey) this popular workout smoothie couldn't be easier to make -- or drink! "This is better than any of the fruit smoothies that I have ever had!" raves slberres.
"This is a fast vegan smoothie with a deep pink color and a rich, creamy texture. VERY filling, and perfect for people in a rush in the morning. You don't have to give up a good breakfast when it's this fast to make!" brags recipe creator ASTROPHE. With soy milk, strawberry, banana, and oats, it's an excellent workout drink any time of day.
This isn't your average green smoothie! With a bright color not just from kale but also from antioxidant-rich matcha green tea powder, the smoothie gets sweetness from mango, banana, and coconut, and a protein boost from an unlikely source: white beans. Watch the video for some great tips!
Apples don't tend to get a ton of play in smoothie recipes, but recipe creator v6nittany was inspired when they were gifted a bunch from a neighbor's tree. Here, tart apple is paired with milk, orange juice, banana, vanilla protein powder, and flax for a drink that is sure to energize you. "What a great idea! I have never thought to make a smoothie with apples...My daughter and I love it!" says Bobbi Jo.
"This naturally sweet and creamy, frosty cold smoothie packs a lot of flavor and a nutritious punch," says recipe creator CC<3's2bake. It certainly meets all the criteria for a winning workout smoothie with good carb and protein-packed ingredients like almonds, oats, flax, yogurt, blueberries, and bananas. This recipe also calls for buttermilk, which is an unusual but pleasantly creamy and tangy addition that users like.
"A great post-workout snack that will keep you filled for hours!" says recipe creator Arizona Desert Flower. "The taste of the banana and the peanut butter cover the taste of the spinach completely. I freeze my bananas and spinach then prepackage everything for the week!" While users love the recipe as is, some suggest you make simple swaps if you wish, like almond butter for peanut butter, rice milk for cow's milk, pineapple for banana, or adding in some protein powder.
Dreamed up by Sarah-May to transport her to the tropics, this fruit-filled vegan smoothie also has plenty of protein from soy milk and tofu. Pineapple and canteloupe add sweetness while lime juice and coconut extract give it a distinctly tropical flavor. Juniper used yogurt instead of tofu with good results, and swapped orange juice and cow's milk for the soy.