Foods that you prepare for yourself are the best for you. You decide on all of the ingredients, you control how it is prepared, and you get the satisfaction of being creative with recipes, and playing more of a part in your own nutritional wellbeing.
However not all of your meals need to be solid food. If you are short of time, or just want some extra variety and convenience, then you can use some liquid nutrition in the form of smoothies/shakes as a chance to get all the energy your body needs.
You still need to meet all of your nutritional requirements as though you were having a normal meal: high quality protein source, plant sources, fibre, healthy fats, in line with your caloric needs. Being able to throw ingredients into a blender, mix it up, and drink it down, is just quicker to prepare and consume.
First thing you will need is a decent blender, this should be a staple of a good kitchen set up anyway. Then just follow the below steps to create your own smoothie to fit your tastes and goals.
Step 1 – Choose a liquid
- Coconut water
- Chilled green tea
The following are a lot heavier in calories than the above options, and are not as highly recommended unless you are chasing a caloric surplus.
- Cows milk
- Goats milk
- Almond milk
- Soy milk
Less liquid will give you a thicker consistency, more liquid thinner. Generally I find about 200-300ml is about right for me.
Step 2 – Add protein powder
- Rice protein
- Pea protein
I use a natural whey protein. 1-2 scoops (20-50g of protein) depending on your goals.
Step 3 – Choose a vegetable
- Dark leafy greens such as spinach or kale
- Powdered greens supplement
It may seem strange, but throwing in a handful of vegetables like baby spinach will add nutrients and fibre, and in the case of most leafy greens, is nearly flavourless in your smoothie. If you are adding watery vegetables like celery or cucumber you may need to add less liquid. Add 1-2 handfuls of vegetables.
Step 4 – Choose a fruit
- Kiwi fruit
Fresh or frozen, fruit adds to the consistency of your smoothie. Choosing fruits like banana or apple will give a creamier texture. You can also mix and match, say ½ a banana and some frozen berries, or peach and frozen mango. Using frozen fruits also helps to chill your smoothie. Add 1-2 handfuls depending on your goals.
Step 5 – Choose a healthy fat
- Peanut or other nut butters
- Chia, Flax, or Hemp seeds
Adding fat also helps give a rich consistency. Add 1-2 thumb sized servings depending on your goals.
Step 6 – Choose an extra topping
- Fresh mint
- Dark chocolate pieces (not too much, a little goes a long way with flavour)
- Yoghurt (this would be counted as your added fats)
- Oats (only if you need added carbohydrates or calories, or if adding just for a thick texture and more fibre the quantity you use can be split with your fruits)
- Ice cubes (if using fresh fruit)
You don’t need much to add extra flavours. Oats are for when you need more carbs or calories. Yoghurt is if you need extra protein, fat, or calories.
Here is a recipe I use often:
Step 1 – Water, about 300ml.
Step 2 – 2 scoops of whey protein
Step 3 – a handful of baby spinach, and a small beetroot cut up.
Step 4 – a small banana, and a handful of frozen blueberries.
Step 5 – 2 thumb sized servings of almonds.
Step 6 – A sprinkle of cinnamon.
Remember that these quantities are appropriate for me and my goals, so you should adjust accordingly for yourself.
- It must be real food.
- A quality protein source.
- Some plant source/s.
- A Healthy fat source.
- Additional starchy carbohydrates only if needed.
- Not exceeding your own hunger levels or your calorie targets.