When someone says the words "protein smoothie," you might envision gagging down a chalky, bland-tasting liquid that manages to be worse than both simple protein shakes and fruit smoothies.
It's time to rethink this idea. The fact is, today's protein powders are not only more delicious than ever, they're more adaptable than ever. This means they play nicely with fruit, nut butters, and other food ingredients, while still helping you meet your protein goals and recover from exercise.
By getting creative and preparing your own protein smoothies, you'll quickly realize that these can be meals you look forward to having. Additionally, smoothies are great because they're fast and easy to make, and you can take them on the go.
Here are five of Kris Gethin's go-to protein smoothie recipes. Each one fits best at a certain time of day, but with minor tweaks, they can be easily modified to fit whatever nutritional needs you have at that point in the day.
1. Breakfast or Pre-workout: Almond Oat Booster Smoothie
This smoothie is an excellent way to start your day, as it's a great source of both protein and complex carbohydrates. On top of that, you'll also get a good dose of fiber from the oatmeal, which will help to keep you satisfied until your mid-morning meal. This can also work as a pre-workout meal, or even a post-workout meal in a pinch.
2. Breakfast or Post-workout: Pineapple Banana Cooler
This smoothie is loaded with dietary fiber, making it a great way to help keep you regular and keep you feeling full until lunch. The relatively high fat content makes it less than ideal for a pre-workout shake, since fat is so slow-digesting. However, you could have it post-workout instead, just leave out the coconut flakes so it doesn't slow the release of nutrients at a time when you need them fast..
3. Midday: Peanut Butter Cup Smoothie
If you're looking for a smoothie to get you through the workday and don't have time for a complete meal at lunch, this one will fit the bill perfectly. It's high in protein and healthy fats but relatively low in carbs, which will help prevent the midafternoon crash that most people experience.
And of course, since no smoothie would be complete without protein, this smoothie has not one, but two excellent sources of protein—whey protein powder and Greek yogurt. This makes it a perfect addition to the diet of anyone who struggles to get enough protein into their day.
Because of the fat content, be sure to have this either several hours before or after your workout
4. Midmorning or Pre- or Post-Workout: Peachy Mandarin Smoothie
This smoothie is a fantastic solution for anyone who needs a boost of energy midmorning and may be heading to the gym shortly thereafter. It contains enough naturally occurring sugars from the fruit to help bring your energy levels up and get you ready for what your intense workout is going to deliver.
If you have this smoothie right before you hit the gym, consider omitting the almond butter to keep the total fat content lower. But, if you're having this option at any other time of day, the almond butter will help stabilize blood glucose levels and help promote greater satiety.
5. Before Bed: Nighttime Cucumber Smoothie
If you're heading to bed and hunger strikes, don't think that you need to go without food; simply whip up this delicious and refreshing cucumber smoothie. Yes, cucumber!
Actually, the smoothie has both cucumber and honeydew melon, two complementary flavors that are from fruits (yes, a cucumber is a fruit) that are low in carbs. The healthy fats from the ground flaxseed can help to keep your hunger levels down overnight and assist your body in recovering from the events of the day. But be sure it's ground! Served whole, your body probably won't be able to digest the flaxseed or put it to any use.
Rethink The Smoothie
These recipes are just the tip of the iceberg. There are unlimited other variations that can be made with a classic high-quality vanilla or chocolate protein powder, some fruit, and some healthy fats. Get creative and swap in some of your favorite ingredients, using these recipes as the template!