Written by Tommy Wood MD, PhD
May 10, 2017
At NBT we talk a lot about nutrient density, especially for hard-training athletes trying to make the most of their calories. One way that I do this is my morning smoothie. I make the smoothie as part of my morning routine, and drink it throughout the morning as my “breakfast”.
If weight loss is a goal, then liquid calories can often be problematic. On the other hand, however, liquid calories can be great for those needing to maximise their nutrient intake and fuel many hours of training per week. More often than not, we see athletes under-eating, which tends to come as a result of switching to whole foods with a lower calorie density. Making smoothies can therefore be a great way to get in some extra calories without having to prepare and eat an additional meal!
The exact components of my smoothie change every day, but it generally includes:
Normally these things go straight into the Ninja rather than being carefully arranged on my chopping board (see below). On this particular morning the first things into the blender were:
(*I have no particular affiliation to these companies, but I’ve been trying their products recently and enjoying them)
To save time I usually mix a big batch of my various powders over the weekend to miminise the number of jars and packets I have to open every morning!
During the week, all the off-cuts of vegetables left over from my cooking get thrown into the freezer. This might be ends of cabbage, carrots, or courgettes (zucchini), or salad ingredients that didn’t make the cut for one reason or another. The best bits go in a smoothie, and whatever is left gets cooked down and blended into a soup.
Here are the leftover veggies I used for this smoothie (pictured before freezing the night before):
With those veggies went:
Then I added:
This made a full 2 litres of smoothie. A quarter went to my fiancé Elizabeth. The rest I drank over the course of an hour or so. I have no idea what the actual nutrient composition of this smoothie was, but I’m willing to bet that it was pretty good! Maybe Marty Kendall can figure it out for me! Here's my best estimate:
Depending on your current dietary approach, the ingredients can be easily adjusted. For instance, you may need to avoid certain foods if you’re following an autoimmune paleo (AIP) or low-oxalate diet. That should still leave you with plenty of veggie (and berry) options for your smoothie.
Similarly, if you’re avoiding dairy, then pea (if not AIP) or hemp protein powder can be used. In those with gut issues, protein digestion and absorption can be a problem. In that case, stick to ingredients you know your gut is happy with, and throw in a few amino acid tablets instead of the protein powder. I usually also include at least 1 tbsp of hydrolysed collagen (for glycine, which helps balance the methionine in the whey), but I ran out last week. If you’re not worried about your protein goals, then the protein can be skipped altogether!
What do you think? Do you make a morning smoothie. If so, what do you put in it? Let me know in the comments below!