You’ve just finished your workout and you’re feeling the post-workout rush! Remember to slow down, however, because this is the time to refuel your body with the calories, carbs, protein and electrolytes it desperately needs. Navigating your way through the world of protein shakes can be a whirlwind task, so keep your shakes simple with a combination of the key ingredients listed below.
Key Ingredient #1: Nut Butters
A tablespoon of peanut butter with a banana or apple is a popular snack, so why not mix some into your drink? Experiment with different types to see what nutty flavors they add. You’ll get about 4 grams of protein per tablespoon.
Key Ingredient #2: Cottage Cheese
Here is a great calorie and protein deal: 90 calories per half cup, and 16 grams of protein! Just half a cup will also give your shake a rich, creamy, satisfying texture. Choose low-fat (and non-salted if you are watching sodium intake), since the sweetness from the fruit will balance out the flavors.
Key Ingredient #3: Carbs and Protein for Maximum Recovery
The verdict is out: the speediest recovery comes from a combination of carbohydrates and protein (ideally in a ratio of 4:1, and 30 minutes to an hour post-workout). Carbs help replenish glycogen. Protein rebuilds muscle tissue and improves hydration.
Key Ingredient #4: Fresh or Frozen Fruit
Add your favorite fresh or frozen fruit to the blender for fast-acting carbohydrates, flavor, and color. Use bananas, berries, oranges, pineapple, or a variety to get in the different antioxidants associated with each fruit’s color. When using fruit like apples, pears and peaches, keep the skin on for added fiber.
Key Ingredient #5: Greek Yogurt
Just like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt will result in a creamy drink and an added 12 grams of protein. Go plain and low-fat here too to save on calories.
Key Ingredient #6: Low-Fat Chocolate Milk
Here is a recovery drink that stands on its own, no additions needed. Multiple studies show that low-fat chocolate milk provides the perfect mix of protein and carbs, leading to optimal recovery. You can also use it as a base for a chocolaty recovery shake.
Key Ingredient #7: Ginger and Other Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Studies show that ginger reduces muscle pain, joint stiffness and swelling…and it will give your drink a fresh flavor. Antioxidants in fresh vegetables and green tea also have anti-inflammatory properties. Add a carrot, leafy kale or spinach, and a splash of green-tea. The added nutrients won’t hurt.