When I went through my extreme weight loss journey, I fell in love with running. Running has now been part of my life to help keep the 150 pounds that I lost off and to keep challenging myself to reach new fitness levels. However, one of the challenges has been to make sure I stay healthy and not get injured. One of the things that can become frustrating with running is injuries due to overtraining.
Fred: Before and After
The key to avoiding the injuries it to try to make sure you do not overtrain and to eat healthy. Many runners (as I have done in the past) will fill themselves up with fake food and inflame their bodies with sugar. As an endurance athlete, this can be the worst thing you do to your body.
To attack this issue, I started doubling up my vegetable and fruit intake by consuming them via smoothies 1-3 times a day to ensure my body was absorbing nutrients from real food to aid in rebuilding the body. Ever since then, I have felt much better after my long runs (over 10 miles) and my 35+ mile weeks.
Now the following morning I am feeling more recovered which prepares me to be able to run or cycle another long distance session if my training schedule allows it. What I am including below are the ingredients I believe are key to making a delicious and powerful smoothie that should help all sorts of endurance athletes to prepare and recover from their intense training sessions:
I typically use unsweetened almond milk. There is no reason to have one with added sugar or flavoring. The vegetables and fruit will overpower whatever taste comes from the almond milk. I would also add some filtered water. With the amount of vegetables and fruits I put in the smoothies, I typically have up to 16 ounces of liquid.
Always have some greens full of vitamins to nourish your body. I primarily use kale and baby spinach. However, I have thrown in celery, cucumber, beet greens and mustard greens. I suggest you mix it up, if possible, every once in a while to ensure your body is introduced to new and natural vitamins.
Adding some fruit to your smoothies will add even more nutrients and vitamins to your body and assist with recovery from workout sessions. My daily smoothies will include 1-2 of my favorite fruits. I typically try to keep mine on the low end of the glycemic index . Apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries and oranges are my staples. I have also added bananas, pineapple, raspberries, cherries, mangoes and grapes.
I believe smoothies should have fat to help you feel full. My daily smoothie sources are coconut oil, organic almond butter, no sugar added peanut butter, organic hemp seed or shredded coconut.
To assist with repairing the destroyed muscles from workouts, I always include protein powder with no sugar. Because I am using fruit in my smoothies, there is no need to have another ingredient with sugar.
Maca Powder: This supplement has a variety of benefits, including energy, mood, rich in vitamins B, C and E, and repairs red blood cells. This last part is a big benefit for endurance athletes because repairing red blood cells is key for being able to run or cycle longer. When maca is added to smoothies, it does not produce any type of added flavor.
Glutamine Powder: This supplement has been reported to minimize the breakdown of muscle and improve protein metabolism. I want to have this in my smoothies because I want to add ingredients that will help minimize or reduce muscle breakdown when I am training for my marathon or longer distance races.
Chia Seeds: Chia seeds are one of the most powerful supplements you can add to a smoothie. There are so many benefits from this smoothie ingredient. Because it is a protein source and has amino acids, it aids with the post recovery. In two tablespoons, it is packed with many nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, including vitamins A, B, E and D; potassium, calcium, protein, iron, omega-4 essential fatty acids and antioxidants. There are many other benefits, but feel free to research this because I am sure you will agree with me and add it into future smoothies.
If you are working out, exercising, cycling or running, you want to eat real food full of nutrients to ensure your body stays as fresh as possible and is ready to take on your next goal or challenge. Oh, and don’t forget to add ice at the end. It has no nutritional benefit, but how can you have a smoothie that is not cold?
Fred Lechuga is author of the weight loss journey website, Fat2fitFred. Fred lost over 150 lbs with lifestyle changes to his eating habits and adding exercise to his daily routine. He has now kept it off for over 6 years. The blog website includes stories about how he lost weight, kept it off and his running experiences. It will also include stories about other people who have succeeded with making dramatic changes to their life. He is now a 2x marathon runner, with a PR of 4 hours, 11 minutes and a half-marathon PR of 1 hr and 50 minutes.
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