Homemade Sports Recovery Smoothie
by Rachel Jesson
in Blogs

I had to go out on another shop to do some research into the commercial sport shake world to have a look at the ingredient list because we don’t consume or stock these sorts of shakes at home. The end result is a little bleak, but the good news is there are one or two decent shakes to purchase out there if you’re not going to do a homemade version.

The second biggest ingredient of most commercial sport shakes is maltodextrin, which is an artificially produced white powder made from a starch. Although maltodextrin comes from a natural food and is a source of energy to sustain exercise, it’s highly processed. It goes through a process called partial hydrolysis which uses water, enzymes and acids to break down the starch to create a water-soluble white powder. In turn, this helps bind all the ingredients together.

Also included in the ingredient list was every known and unknown name for sugar, as well as non-nutritive sweeteners. Acidity regulators, artificial flavourings, preservatives, anti-caking or clumping agents are also firm favourites in recovery formulas.

All we really want to do after a training session is to get in some protein quickly for our hard-earned efforts, attenuate muscle damage and glow with vitality. I know I choose not to load my body with the above toxins because in the end they all require extra energy from the liver and other detox organs to be removed. I also like knowing that my body knows exactly what to do with everything I ingest. This speedy assimilation helps with muscle and other physiological recovery, slows down my ageing process and actually makes my workouts beneficial to me because it’s contributing towards my health. Chemicals do not complement our health.

So how do we go about making our own? Not that difficult really. There are a myriad of healthy options, so I will focus on my favourite for now.

I always use my own homemade raw dairy kefir as a base because it’s loaded with probiotics and I get the addition of the cow’s immunity because I make it with unpasteurised milk. Kefir is so nourishing to the gut; it assists with elimination, adds to the beneficial bacteria colony you have residing in your gut, which, in turn, improves your immunity and contributes to your 'super-human-ness'.

Source the best organic protein powder you can get your hands on, whether it is a grass-fed whey isolate, hemp, green or yellow pea, or brown rice protein powder. That is all it should contain. You may come across some with added superfoods - as long as you know what they are and you’re familiar with all the ingredients, buy it.

I like to add some hydrolysed bovine collagen to mine for assisted muscle, joint and tendon recovery and nourishment. This is also a wonderful anti-ageing product (after all exercise is a form of stress that can age us), so it assists with skin elasticity as well.

I love adding a decent dollop of raw honey for all the anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic benefits and it makes the best sweetener that your body knows exactly how to process. It is packed with antioxidants, enzymes and minerals that have not been destroyed in the heating process - a far cry from the non-nutritive sweeteners!

A tablespoon of organic virgin coconut oil is a great fat to add to the mix because it increases the healthy cholesterol in your body and helps convert the bad cholesterol into good cholesterol. It also reduces inflammation, which is a common result from exercising. It improves digestion, makes your skin glow and is another anti-microbial.

I love adding superfoods to my mix. I always add chia seeds for their omega-3 benefits and traces of boron, that aid in calcium absorption. They also turn your smoothie into a double thick shake! I love including maca because it’s a powerful antioxidant that aids in recovery and replenishes my energy after a workout. And because it’s an adaptogen, it helps with any hormone that needs balancing out without ever overstimulating one. If I feel a cold coming on, I add camu camu and/or baobab. If I have a jam-packed day, I like adding cacao powder which I find keeps me going because of the naturally occurring caffeine, plus I find it increases my satiety for longer than many other flavoured shakes. It is also loaded with magnesium, which most of us are deficient in.

And finally, the flavour. I almost always use organic bananas as my base fruit and combine this with either berries, or cacao and peanut butter, paw paw, mango, pomegranate, granadilla, guava, or whatever fruit is in season.

If you don’t have the luxury of coming straight home after a workout, there are other easy and more ‘instant’ ways to flavour your recovery smoothie. Use either 100 per cent pure fruit juice, filtered water or coconut water as the liquid base. Then to naturally sweeten your protein powder, try grinding up some coconut sugar in a coffee grinder. This will help make it more dissolvable on shaking rather than blending. Other fun flavours with real foods include vanilla powder, cacao powder for a chocolate shake, grind some instant coffee for a coffee flavour, combine vanilla and coffee for a cappuccino flavour, grind loose-leaf green tea and add matcha powder for a green tea, or grind desiccated coconut and add vanilla, cardamon, cinnamon and black pepper for a vanilla chai. The list is really endless. You can grind any freeze-dried fruit and include that as an alternate flavour as well.

I personally feel that whole foods have far more flavour and variety options than commercially bought shakes. I also think that there is no real excuse anyone can make about why they wouldn’t opt for the healthier and more nourishing option. We train to improve ourselves in more ways than just the physical. If we consume foods that nourish our mind and soul, we’re on the right path to living a long, healthful life.