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3 Smoothies For The Endurance Athlete

Posted by: on July, 12 2013

Found on Ironman.com and written by Pip Taylor

Smoothies are perfect for IRONMAN athletes finding it challenging to consume enough calories. If you’re having difficulty maintaining weight, these liquid meals can be a great way to keep your body on track with something less filling than solid food.

Smoothies are ideal after a workout, when recovery is paramount but a full meal seems too heavy. Invest in a thermos or chilled flask so your concoction can ready immediately after a training session. smoothie

There are no rules when it comes to what you put into a smoothie, so be adventurous about trying out different fruits, vegetables, herbs, nut butters and protein powders. For those wishing to avoid cow milk, there are plenty of other options: try coconut, almond or rice milk, or use yogurt for added probiotics. (Be mindful, however, of drinking too many smoothies if you’re watching your weight: It’s easy to over consume liquid calories.)

The Pre-Workout Smoothie

Why: Early morning workouts mean even earlier breakfasts—or for many, no breakfast at all. But if you’re aiming to nail those interval times, having some fuel on board is critical. A smoothie provides fuel and fluids in a convenient and easy to digest form. You can drink it in the car on your way to morning Masters swim, or sip on it as you stretch and get ready to run or roll out the door.

When: Digestible liquid meals like smoothies mean that the time between eating/drinking and working out can be shortened. Aim for at least 30 minutes lag time for greater gastrointestinal comfort.

What: For a pre-workout smoothie when training in the heat, try blending with ice cubes to make a cold slushie (cold drinks have been shown to boost performance in the heat). To make a thick, spoonable ice-cold smoothie, freeze in an ice tray then simply blend the frozen smoothie cubes with an extra dash of milk or juice.

Blueberry Honey Pre-Workout Smoothie

The fruit and honey provide energy and the blueberries pack in antioxidants. Yogurt adds probiotics and may be easier to digest than milk, but you can use whatever milk or milk alternative you prefer.


¾ cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

¾ cup natural plain yogurt

2 tsp honey

3 ice cubes (optional)


1) Throw all ingredients into the blender and blitz until combined. Serves 1.


The Recovery Smoothie

Why: We need recovery fuel soon after exercise, but higher post-workout body temperatures mean that blood has been diverted away from the stomach. This makes digestion more difficult, and food borderline unappetizing. Liquid meals may be better tolerated after a high-intensity workout—they help quench thirst and are easier to get down.

When: 30 to 45 minutes after a workout. This becomes even more important when you are doing double or even triple workouts in a day.

What: The ideal recovery meal or snack contains protein for muscle repair, carbohydrates for glycogen replenishment, and essential fats. Whey protein is an ideal protein to add as it is quickly absorbed.

Banana-Almond Protein Smoothie

The ingredients in this smoothie pack in the protein and will have a cooling effect on your body after a workout. 


1 scoop whey protein

1 banana

1 Tbsp almond butter

¾ cup milk or milk alternative

3 ice cubes (optional)


1) Throw all ingredients into a blender and blitz for 30 seconds.


The Nutrient-Dense Smoothie

Why: Too many triathletes rely heavily on packaged sports foods. These might be great for race day and for key workouts, but getting a substantial proportion of your daily calories from sports drinks, gels and chews is less than ideal and will leave you lacking in the nutrient department. Try to incorporate more real fool and include a couple of nutrient-dense smoothies throughout the week. Green vegetables (with a little fruit to sweeten) are a convenient way to boost your nutrient intake.

When: Any time, especially for those in hard training and in need of extra calories. Substitute as a snack or use as a nutrient-dense breakfast.

What: Experiment with green vegetables such as kale or spinach as the base. Vegetables are more nutritious than most fruits, which are also higher in (natural) sugars. Other vegetables like beets, carrots, celery, cucumber and herbs are also great. Sweeten with a little fruit to make it more appealing.

Minty-Chia Green

Chia seeds are rich in protein and contain valuable Omega-3 essential fatty acids. When you soak the chia seeds in water, they expand and become gelatinous,  adding thickness and substance to a drink. 


1 tsp chia seeds

4 tsp water

1 green apple

10 fresh mint leaves

large handful of baby spinach or kale

½ cup fresh apple juice


1) Combine chia seeds with the water and soak for a few hours or overnight in the fridge (do this in a bigger batch and use 1 tbsp of the gelatinized mix).

2) Add rest of ingredients plus the chia seed mix to a blender and blitz until combined.