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My Go-To Post Workout Smoothie: Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana

Recipe:

  • 1 to 2 bananas (fresh or frozen)

  • 1 serving vanilla protein powder

  • 1 tbsp natural peanut butter

  • 1-2 cups oat milk

  • 1tbsp maple syrup

  • 1 tbsp cacao powder

  • 2-3 cracks of salt

  • optional: ice

Note: The ideal ratio of carbs:protein post exercise is 3:1 but macronutrient content will change slightly based on your ingredients (ie. size of banana, brand of oat milk, brand of protein powder etc.) This values are approximate.


Carbs: 50-60g

Protein: 15-25g


Disclaimer: Depending on how much or little you use of the following ingredients (oat milk, protein powder, maple syrup, bananas), you can achieve a 3:1 carbs to protein ratio. However, when I make it, it tends to sit higher on the protein side. So, feel free to add a side of berries or other fruit to bump up the carbohydrates.


1. Magnesium


From: Cacao


Magnesium is a super important mineral in the body but unfortunately, it is often depleted and difficult to obtain from the standard American diet.


Did you know that exercise can lead to loss of magnesium and increase the body's magnesium needs by 10-20%? This is likely because of increased sweat and urinary loss often associated with strenuous exercise.


Magnesium plays a role in many key bodily functions relevant to athletes:

  • Energy production

  • Energy storage

  • Protein synthesis

  • Normal muscle function

  • Normal nerve function

  • Blood sugar level maintenance

The main reason people are deficient in magnesium is typically because of low dietary intake. However, some other contributors to possible magnesium deficiency include:

  • Chronic diarrhea

  • Alcohol use

  • Certain medications

  • Excessive sweating

  • Malabsorption (from Celiac disease, IBD etc.)

Note: 2 tbsps of cacao powder has about 50mg of caffeine, so be mindful of this if you are consuming cacao in the evening or if you are sensitive to caffeine.


Nutrition facts:


Let's look at a popular brand of cacao powder, Navitas Organics. Their cacao powder contains 106mg of magnesium (about 25% of the RDA) for 2.5 tbsps. In my opinion, 2.5 tbsps is quite a lot to put in a smoothie, and I usually only put 1 tbsp - but I'll take the magnesium wherever I can get it!


2. Protein


From: Protein powder + peanut butter (& a tiny bit from cacao powder!)


The current recommendations for daily protein intake for athletes is 1.2-2.0g of protein per kg of body weight, per day. Where your intake sits on this scale depends on type of training, duration and intensity.


It's important to know that exercise triggers muscle protein catabolism, meaning the breakdown of protein. For this reason, it's important to consume protein from diet or supplements in order to prevent the breakdown of your much needed muscle.


The main reasons athletes need protein are:

  • Promotes muscle repair

  • Promotes muscle growth and new protein synthesis

  • Decreases the breakdown of muscle protein

The ideal amount of protein to consume after a workout is 0.3-0.5g of protein per kg of body weight. To best support protein synthesis, it is recommended to consume this protein from immediately to 3 hours post exercise.


3. Carbohydrates


From: Banana, Oat Milk (& a little bit from peanut butter & cacao)


Your body uses glycogen stores as fuel during exercise. It is crucial that you replenish these glycogen stores after exercise so that your muscles can recover.


To promote glycogen re-synthesis, you should aim to consume 1.1-1.5g of carbohydrates per kg of body weight post exercise.


The important thing about post workout carbs: Timing! Waiting 2 hours or more to replenish glycogen stores can lead to a 50% decrease in glycogen synthesis, so it's recommended to replenish carbohydrates ASAP after exercise.


The synergy of Carbs and Protein: A quick note


Glycogen synthesis is maximized when carbohydrates and protein are consumed together after exercise. After exercise, the body's ability to rebuild glycogen and protein is increased, so to optimize the re-synthesis of these important nutrients, aim to eat within 2 hours of exercise, but ideally, as soon as possible.


4. Electrolytes


From: Banana (potassium), Salt (sodium, chloride), Cacao (Magnesium)


In this smoothie, you'll replenish sodium, potassium, chloride and magnesium - all important electrolytes that are depleted in exercise. Electrolytes are important compounds in the body that play roles in the following bodily functions:

  • Muscle contraction

  • Nerve function

  • Fluid balance

  • Maintaining heart stroke volume

  • Supporting removal of metabolic waste products

I hope this post helps educate you on how to better fuel yourself after a workout. But don't stress, we as nutritionists try to do all the thinking so that you don't have to do as much. Aside from trying recipes like this one that have been constructed to be suitable for specific circumstances (such as post exercise), the easiest thing you can start with is just making sure that you are eating and drinking after a workout. Baby steps!


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