Build the PERFECT Smoothie
With warmer weather upon us, we turn to our favorite summer staples: fresh fruits, crisp salads, and cold, icy drinks to cool us down on the hottest of days.
Keeping it Cool
We all know that a post-workout shake or smoothie has major fitness benefits, but in the summer months, meal replacement smoothies sound like the perfect option to the normal big breakfasts or hot lunches.
(Read about protein’s impact on lean muscle growth.)
(Learn about the best time to fuel up and use your natural protein supplements.)
That’s why we asked our resident R.D. & Exercise Physiologist, Albert Matheny, to walk us through how to create a nutritionally balanced smoothie. His comprehensive checklist provides a fill-in-the-blank type recipe you can use all year long, changing up the ingredients as you like to keep things seasonal and exciting!
Fuel with Purpose
Figure out how hungry you are, or think about how hungry you’ll be if you’re planning ahead. The nutrition profile for a smoothie that is more of a snack will look different than one you make to replace a full meal. Calories, macros, and even volume can add up fast, so be vigilant! The entire idea of a smoothie is to fill you up without weighing you down, so be realistic about the amount of fuel you need to feel refreshed and focused for the rest of your day.
For a quick snack, focus on protein to settle hunger without overloading on calories. For a quick, on-the-go smoothie, stick to:
- Protein (from a supplement or a dairy protein)
- A carbohydrate (fruits, veggies, oats, etc.)
- Milk of choice (unsweetened)
This is truly as simple as throwing your favorite protein powder into a blender with a banana and milk, or blitzing some yogurt with berries or oats and ice. A great Keto or Paleo alternative would be Promix Whey Isolate Protein Powder with avocado and milk. You could even pump a little MCT Oil in for extra satiety if you’re really feeling fancy. Remember: collagen counts as protein and is a fantastic way to thicken up smoothies with very few ingredients!
(Confused about what to eat on the Keto diet? Check this out.)
(Need help choosing which dairy-based protein is right for you? Discover the differences between whey concentrate, whey isolate, and casein protein.)
(Not sure what collagen is? We’ll clear up your questions, and also teach you about how collagen enhances cognitive performance.)
Make it a Meal
“The key to making a lunch smoothie,” says Albert, “is to not load it with sugar and have some protein and fat.”
His equation for success becomes a little more involved in order to really ensure all nutritional boxes earn a check mark.
- Pick a base liquid
- Choose carbs wisely
- Pack it with protein
- Find a fat
- Fill it with fiber
- Decide if other flavor and nutritional add ons are right for you
Buckle up, here we go. We’re really doing it: welcome to Promix’s deep-study on the art of building the PERFECT meal replacement smoothie.
The base liquid will serve as the glue that holds the entire smoothie together. The thicker the base liquid, the more volume your smoothie will have. For slushier textures, water and ice cubes are great options, but if you want a milkshake-like consistency, think about using a milk or non-dairy milk to make your mixture nice and creamy.
Our favorite smoothie bases:
- Water (Albert’s preference)
- Dairy milks
- Milk alternatives – Nut and seed milks are a great option, but beware of added sugars and artificial flavors!
- Coconut Milk – Cartoned coconut milks are certainly available, but canned coconut milks can be bought and mixed with water for additional flavor and some good fat for our Keto folks
Pro tip: Always start by pouring 8ish+ ounces of base liquid into the blender or bowl. This will keep solid ingredients off the walls of the vessel throughout blending, meaning your goodies don’t get stuck to the sides and become a chore to scoop off and re-blend.
If “carb” falls into the category of bad words for you, adjust your mindset here to think exclusively about fruits, vegetables, and certain whole grains. After all, carbs are an essential macronutrient for physical and mental function and serve as our first source of fuel under physical stress. For this reason, a small blast of carbohydrates before or during a workout can actually improve performance, and when incorporated post-workout, can greatly accelerate recovery.
(Check out Promix’s Intra-workout Muscle Fuel for pre and intra-workout carb options, and hit up our Recovery Formula for protein + carbs to repair your muscles and keep you going strong.)
After you pick you base liquid, start to think about carbs.
Our favorite carbs:
- Berries – Any kind are always a great option
- Bananas and other high-sugar fruits like pineapple and mango – Great for mornings, but use sparingly or only for flavor in the afternoon. “Most of us have jobs where we have been sitting a lot by lunch-time, so we don’t need the extra energy. Here is where we can keep carbs relatively low,” stresses Albert.
- “Acai is a great add in and also holds some fat and fiber,” he adds.
- Frozen spinach and other tender leaf vegetables – These impart minimal flavor, maximum texture, and pack a wallop of important nutrients. Always aim for some greens!
Protein, Protein, Protein
“It’s important to pick a protein that meets your needs and fits your lifestyle choices,” Albert continues. “I created Promix to solve the nutritional problems that face every type of athlete. I wanted everyone to have options: dietary preferences and food allergies shouldn’t stand in the way of proper nutrition for anyone, let alone people who live active lifestyles.”
Our favorite proteins:
- Grass-fed whey protein concentrate – Whey concentrate is one of the most popular options available. Promix’s whey holds 25 grams of protein per serving and stands out for extreme bioavailability and unsurpassed purity.
Whey protein powder is not ideal for those with milk or lactose intolerances, or for athletes who avoid dairy and animal products.
- Whey protein isolate – Whey isolate has a higher concentration of protein than whey concentrate. Promix’s whey isolate holds 30-31 grams of protein per serving and is made exclusively in summer months when our cows graze on lush, green pasture at its peak.
Despite the very low lactose content, whey protein isolate powder is not ideal for those with extreme milk or lactose allergies, or for athletes who avoid dairy and animal products.
- Micellar casein protein – Micellar casein is a fantastic option for lunch, dinner, or dessert smoothies as casein molecules are much larger than whey and take longer to digest. Casein is ideal before bed or prolonged periods of rest to really give the body a full recharge. Promix’s casein protein holds 25-26 grams of protein per serving and offers the full spectrum of casein proteins (Alpha s2, Beta, and Kappa-casein).
Casein protein powder is not ideal for those with milk or lactose intolerances, or for athletes who avoid dairy and animal products.
- Organic vegan proteins – All of our vegan proteins are made from a base of 100% USDA Certified Organic North American pea protein. With 20-25 grams of protein per serving depending on the flavor, we’ve done the work to make all of our vegan proteins complete for our athletes, meaning they carry all essential amino acids your body can only get through food. Bonus: Some of them have added vitamins in which plant-based athletes are commonly deficient.
(Lean more about why BCAAs are so important to your training program.)
Promix vegan protein powders are perfect for plant-based athletes or those simply looking to cut down on consumption of dairy and animal products. Our favorite NYC smoothie joint, Joe & the Juice, utilizes our Vegan Chocolate protein in their plant-based smoothies.
- Collagen peptides – Collagen peptides offer a non-dairy alternative to milk-based proteins and boast major benefits in support of hair, skin, nails, bones, joints, and connective tissues. With 10-20 grams of protein per serving depending on which you choose, Promix has worked to ensure we make options for pescatarian athletes.
Collagen peptides are not ideal for those who avoid animal products or are looking for quick-digesting, post-workout protein unless you choose our Optimal Chocolate, which we created specifically as a post-workout collagen, complete with BCAAs.
So what’s the magic number? How much protein turns your smoothie into a satisfactory meal?
Albert has a hard and fast rule here. “I’m looking for a least 20 grams of high quality protein in any snack or meal. This need varies depending on an athlete’s size and activity level, but 20 grams is a great place to start.”
Get your (good) Fats
Incorporating healthy fats in where you can is arguably just as important as hitting your protein goals. Good fats like the ones found in nut and seed butters, natural oils, and avocados promote satiety, keep us full (and, ahem, away from office snacks), and support cognitive function so we can stay focused and energized.
But tread with caution.
“Aside from sugar, this is where it’s easy to go overboard. I love peanut butter as much as the next person, but when I eat too much, I feel awful. Aim for about 10 grams of fat, which is roughly a tablespoon of nut butter. Or, if you simply want more flavor, go for one of Promix’s Peanut Butter Vegan Protein Powders: you’ll grab protein and peanut flavor without any of the fat or added sugars normally found in the stuff on the shelves of your supermarket.”
Our favorite fats:
- 1 tbsp peanut, almond, cashew, or sunflower seed butter
- 1/2 a serving of whole nuts
- 1/4 – 1/2 avocado
- Chia, flax, or hemps seeds
- Coconut oil
- MCT Oil
Extra Fiber Never Hurts
You get a bonus when you incorporate chia, flax, and hemp seeds. They are loaded with fiber, which is another great tool to use to fill up and fight hunger. Adding fiber-rich ingredients like these will thicken your smoothie and make it extra filling. You can even purchase fiber powders to add to shakes and smoothies just like protein powder.
Customize with Add-Ons!
“The beauty of smoothies is that you control everything that goes into them,” says Albert. “Think about small ingredients that don’t necessarily alter the nutritional profile you’ve worked hard to build, but make the flavor and aroma of your smoothie something you’ll really enjoy drinking!”
Our favorite add-ons:
- Promix Protein Puffs – A little crunch + extra protein goes a long way!
- Warm spices – Cinnamon, cardamom, and chai blends
- Anti inflammatories, like ginger and turmeric
- Extracts – Vanilla and almond can take a smoothie from good to NEXT LEVEL (you’re welcome)
- Flavored waters, like rose and orange blossom
- Spirulina, chlorella, and other green blends – Note that some of these can be tough on the digestive tract, so nix these bad boys if you experience any stomach issues
- If your final product isn’t sweet enough, opt for natural sweeteners like organic whole leaf stevia or a touch of honey
There you have it! You’re ready to conquer your hunger and keep your body and mind at its best.
Need a little extra inspiration?
Check out some of our awesome smoothie recipes for ideas about which types of ingredients you can add to create something all your own. If you land a sweet signature concoction, let us know. We want to hear about it! You might even end up with your creation on the blog.
Have any requests for recipes YOU want to see or additional questions for Albert? Let us know! Email email@example.com and we’ll get you answers and help you utilize your Promix natural protein supplements and nutritional supplements. Be sure to follow Promix Nutrition on instagram for the most up-to-date announcements, and get ready for some exciting changes coming your way!