I came across a post in Runners World the other day: Nutritious Smoothies for Runners. I’ve always been a fan of smoothies, and have become a bit of a smoothie fiend since getting a hand-held blender for Christmas last year (they’re so much fun! You can whizz up practically anything!)
I always thought I was being pretty healthy, mixing low-fat yoghurt with various fruit (and
maybe occasionally almost always some cocoa powder or dark chocolate), but after doing a little research, I’ve realised that there a ton of other ingredients I could add, and most are healthier – less sugar, for starters, and often more protein. The protein, of course, is key for muscle recovery after a tough run; and at this stage in marathon training, I’m sure you’ll agree that all of the runs are getting pretty tough!
So, inspired by the articles I’ve read recently, I decided to look into the most commonly recommended ingredients, to see what benefits they really offer – and I realised that I’ve been underestimating a lot of them!
I was on the right track with some things, at least: cocoa powder is a great source of anti oxidants. In fact, according to a study conducted by the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, it contains a higher amount of antioxidants than red wine and tea. Pretty impressive!
Other good sources of anti oxidants are blueberries, kiwi, raisins and mangoes. Strangely enough, cinnamon also makes the list – and boasts other benefits, like potassium and anti-inflammatory properties. Banana is another ingredient that seems to keep appearing, as they’re rich in potassium. I personally love bananas in smoothies, as they go with nearly anything, and thicken it up nicely.
As for protein, there are a number of ways to add a little extra. The obvious choices are yoghurt and milk, but there are other, less obvious options: soybeans, tofu, almonds (e.g. almond butter or almond milk) and peanuts are all great. If you fancy being a little adventurous, egg whites apparently also work well – though I don’t think I’ll be trying that any time soon.
Now for me, it’s been brilliant to learn about the nutritional benefits of things that I eat all the time – and I’ve realised that my usual breakfast is quite a bit healthier than I gave it credit for. Most mornings, I’ll make a bowl of porridge, mixed with cinnamon, raisins and honey, and occasionally topped with sliced banana. If I’m feeling lazy, I’ll just have plain porridge with a drizzle of honey. I thought that this was kind of bad, given that porridge + honey is basically just carbs + sugar (not that this made me any less lazy), so I was pretty happy to stumble across this article, which cites a number of ways that honey is actually good for you! Drizzle on!