You’ve put the weights back on the rack, unlaced your running shoes or rolled up your yoga mat. Sweat’s pouring down your forehead, and your whole body is benefiting from a rush of feel-good endorphins. What do you do next?
You might feel tempted to hit the couch, deserving a rest after all that activity. However, according to several health experts, you should actually head to the kitchen. More specifically, they recommend beelining it to the blender.
Post-workout smoothies are nothing new. Most fitness fanatics already know the merits of refuelling after an intense round of activity. But some people get themselves stuck in a rut, recycling the same recipes involving berries, protein powder and bananas.
To shake you out of your smoothie groove, this article lists unexpected, healthful ingredients to add to your post-workout smoothie. Let’s get blending.
1. Functional Mushrooms
No, these aren’t the same mushrooms you find sauteed atop a burger – they are a class of mushrooms sometimes called “adaptogenic mushrooms.” Others call them “functional mushrooms.”
As the name implies, functional mushrooms help your body in several distinct ways. Some, like Chaga mushrooms, are health superstars, aiding your body’s immune system. Others, like reishi mushrooms, calm you after a stressful day. And then there’s a fungus like lion’s mane that has been shown to improve focus.
Focus, relaxation and a healthy immune system: those seem like wonderful additions to a smoothie. Whereas functional mushrooms were tricky to acquire before, online stores like Rritual Superfoods now sell them in easy-to-dose sticks, ready to be tipped in a post-workout smoothie.
Some people have a complicated relationship with beets. Their earthy taste and blood-red appearance remind some of passed-over thanksgiving side dishes or bare-bones soups they ate as kids.
But according to this Men’s Health article, beets are one of nature’s finest post-workout foods. The humble root is packed with vitamins, iron, magnesium, antioxidants and folates that, among other mechanisms, counteract the oxidative stress of exercise. As an added bonus, they turn your smoothie a vibrant red colour!
3. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter shouldn’t be confined between two slices of bread. After a workout, your body craves the essentials: fat, protein and carbohydrates. According to experts, peanuts contain just the right amount of those essentials (plus a few bonuses, like potassium, vitamin E and magnesium).
Peanut butter has also been shown to potentially lower cholesterol levels and inflammation, making it a heart-healthy fat alternative to that ill-advised post-exercise cheeseburger. If you’re allergic to peanuts, try almonds instead. And if no nuts sit well with you, get your fats from other healthy sources like avocado.
4. Coconut Water
Lastly, let’s explore coconut water. Most people know it as a refreshing drink enjoyed on a beach, but nature’s tastiest water can also help out after a workout.
Coconut water contains high levels of electrolytes: a water solution containing essential minerals that produce energy. As you sweat, your body excretes electrolytes, so it’s important to replenish them. Tipping a cup of coconut milk into your post-workout smoothie helps you retain those energy-providing electrolytes. (Plus, it tastes great!).
Next time you break out the blender, try one of these 4 unexpected ingredients. Look for other ingredients that pair well, and then tweak and adjust until you arrive at a smoothie that suits your taste.