Tired of protein powder in your shakes? There’s more than one way to pack on the protein. All it takes is a smoothie. Switch things up and blend these superfoods into your next protein smoothie to help you power up before a workout – and to help your muscles recover after exercise.
1. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which act as anti-inflammatory agents. A little inflammation is normal after you hit the gym, but too much can lead to muscle damage. Adding chia seeds to your smoothie is one way to help prevent too much muscle breakdown after a workout, so you can continue to gain muscle instead of losing everything you’ve worked so hard to build up.
2. Greek yogurt
Superfoods get their name because they’re great for you in many different ways. Greek yogurt has twice the amount of protein as regular yogurt, but that’s not all that deems it worthy of inclusion in your next protein smoothie. Greek yogurt makes you feel full, which can help you cut back on snack foods full of empty calories and seriously lacking in quality protein.
Mangoes are an excellent source of antioxidants. The less oxidative stress your muscles have to deal with, the faster they’ll repair – and the sooner you can jumpstart your next workout. They’ll also add natural sweetness to your smoothie, which is a nice flavor boost as you’re rehydrating and flooding protein back into your muscles.
4. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes belong in your smoothies for the same reason a banana might: potassium. Potassium is a mineral your body needs to maintain fluid balance and help muscles contract. A small amount of sweet potato in your smoothie can prevent muscle soreness, muscle cramps and muscle spasms during and after workouts.
Eaten before a workout, oats offer slow-digesting carbohydrates. These types of carbs can make your energy last through all your sets and beyond, since you won’t burn through them as quickly. If you’re not into oatmeal for breakfast, adding oats to your protein smoothie is a great way to fuel up before you head to the gym.
While it might seem like the kale fad has passed, it’s no less beneficial than it was before. Kale is more than just a leaf. It’s a plant-based vegetable rich in vitamin B6, the vitamin that helps you maintain a healthy immune system. Add kale to your smoothie to help you avoid getting sick, which could take you out of the gym for days – even weeks.