Smoothie (pl. smoothies)
Smoothies (of the latter variety) have gained popularity in recent years, especially in (but not limited to) health and fitness circles.
They are seen as the ultimate in liquid food and refreshment, as well as being the poster child for the detox generation.
So, are they really all they’re cracked up to be? But how can they possibly be a bad thing?
They combine ultra-healthy ingredients into a single, quick and easy to consume foodstuff, packed with virtually every vitamin and mineral on the planet. Don’t they? Surely that’s a winner? It must be a surefire recipe for success, health, and vitality? Well, not necessarily.
So often, people head to the smoothie bar in the gym or local mall and go straight for the beverage that combines the most healthy sounding fruits you could fit in one receptacle, watch it all get pureed into a runny, smooth pulp, then bosh, down it goes.
Well, solely fruit based smoothies like this, when consumed often and on their own, will lead to four distinct possibilities.
What Happens When You Drink A Fruit Smoothie
Fruit is extremely high in sugar. However, when consumed whole, these sugars are released far slower into the bloodstream, leading to more prolonged energy and better nutrient absorption.
The human body has evolved to effectively digest and absorb all parts of the fruit together. The various nutrients in the pulp, the cell membranes, pith and other items work together with the vitamins, minerals, and sugars in the juice, to help the body efficiently process and utilize all of the goodness within the whole fruit.
When you heavily blend all of these parts together, they all hit the gut at the same time in a highly processed state. So all of the receptors are saturated almost instantly. This creates the first problem where not all of the nutrients can be absorbed from by gut.
As the sugars pour across the gut walls into the bloodstream, blood sugar hits the roof, causing a surge in insulin. The insulin works hard to push the energy into the cells, before dropping away, taking blood sugar levels with it, causing an energy slump.
Now, what happens to excess sugar? It gets turned into fat! And what happens when blood sugar falls? You get hungry!
What happens when you keep causing insulin spikes? You risk developing metabolic disorders like diabetes.
The picture should now be clear. But, what about all those super healthy vitamins and minerals?
Instead of them slowly releasing into the body as the digestive system carefully works its way through the various parts of the fruit, they hit the bloodstream in a similar fashion to the sugars… in a huge bombardment.
Vitamins and minerals need to interact with other cells and meet with receptors to perform their valuable jobs.
But, there is only a limited number of these cells and receptors to go around. Once they are all busy, the remaining, free goodies need to go somewhere. As the body cannot store the majority of vitamins and minerals found in fruits, they are turned into extremely colorful urine. You pee them all out.
Lastly, all that great fiber that’s wrapped up in the various parts of the fruit is just destroyed by the blending process. This means that you may well experience a surprise or two from the other end as well. So what’s the solution?
The solution is that you don’t just constantly throw down pure fruit smoothies, except during exercise when the body is screaming out for energy.
Now, armed with all of that advice, here are a few functional smoothies that won’t just give you a sugar rush, make you hungry, and expand your waistline.
Breakfast is a time to kickstart your metabolism and stock up on calories for the day ahead.
Why not get the egg whites in and head straight for a big breakfast smoothie? Here’s what you need…
Chuck it all in a blender, give it a few good blasts, then let it settle a while to allow the oats to soften.
The oats, milk and good fats in the avocado will slow the absorption of the fruit sugars and add serious, muscle-building substance. They also provide a little something to stay in the system longer so you won’t feel empty within an hour.
Pre-workout nutrition is all about piling in plenty of energy for your session, with muscle saving and building protein, but little in the way of fat, so digestion is unhindered. Try this one.
Brew up a strong coffee or double espresso and allow it to cool. Meanwhile, soak the oats in the milk or yogurt. Add all ingredients to the blender, give a few good blasts, and enjoy.
The energy comes mainly from the fruit, honey, and oats, while the milk provides a protein kick, and the coffee delivers a little extra stimulation.
Alongside your pre-workout smoothie should be your Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs). During intense exercise, the muscle fibers are stressed and begin to break down. These broken fibers are then readily consumed by the body to provide energy. Consuming BCAA’s before and during your training sessions ensures the blood is sufficiently fuelled with these energy-rich amino acids, meaning your hard-earned muscle is spared.
Intra-workout nutrition has been neglected for far too long. Why load up on calories for a long, tough session in the weight room, then neglect to top up your energy levels when the going gets tough? It just makes no sense, unless you’re in a cutting phase.
What you need mid-workout is something easily digestible providing plenty of lean, clean, rapidly absorbed energy.
This is one of the very few instances when a pure fruit smoothie will do the trick.
Your body will be screaming out for energy, and will act like a sponge when all of those sugars and vitamins are sent flooding its way.
Simply throw together all of your favorite fruits. There really aren’t many that won’t work together. Try adding beetroot for a nitric oxide boost. Experiment a little. Don’t forget your BCAA’s!
Post-Workout Blitz Up
Everyone knows of the essential benefits of a post-workout shake, or they should do!
Post-workout nutrition is all about getting plenty of muscle building protein while replenishing glycogen stores and kick-starting the recovery process.
You need a mix of rapid and slowly absorbed protein, and plenty of rapidly absorbed carbs, for the perfect post-workout feed up.
Unflavored protein powders are perfect because you can then add whatever flavors you want.
One For Bedtime
Late at night is another important time to consume the right nutrition. Your bedtime feed up should be aimed at promoting top-quality sleep, and sustaining anabolism for the eight hours or so you’ll be in the land of nod.
Here’s a tasty recipe that will do just that.
Add everything to the blender except the rice and blitz until the nut pieces are small enough. Finally, add the rice and give it all another quick blast.
Walnuts, almonds, honey, and hummus all help elevate levels of tryptophan, an amino acid associated with sleep. The casein and milk will slowly leech muscle building nutrients into the tissues while the brown rice provides fiber and a few nutritious carbs.
The final ingredient to your night time feed should be Sheer Sleep. This excellent supplement is jammed with natural ingredients designed to promote anabolic rest, including the sleep hormone melatonin. Combined with the delicious smoothie above, you’re guaranteed sound sleep so you can wake up one step closer to your goals.
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