Moniqu Ryan

Sports Nutrition Blog

Build Your Own Sports Smoothie

April 22, 2024

Customize your smoothie for your training and nutrition program

With Ironman and Marathon preparation underway many endurance athletes need to consume food on fly.

Smoothies often fit as they can provide important recovery nutrients like fluid, carbohydrate, and protein in a tasty package that can be quickly consumed before or after a workout or between two workouts.

One option is putting together your own homemade smoothie that you can customize for your nutritional needs and training program.


Step-by-step smoothie

First, pick a liquid. Do you want to use a little for a thick shake, or a lot for a think shake? Aim for 4 to 10 ounces, and experiment to see what works for you. Some choices are water, coconut water (plain), almond milk (unsweetened), cow’s milk, soy milk (unsweetened), or other non-dairy milks. Cow’s milk and soy milk provide protein.

You can also choose non-dairy milks that are calcium fortified. Check labels, these choices provide varying levels of carbohydrate and some provide protein.

Second, pick a protein- if you want protein. Protein can work towards repair and rebuilding after a weight training session, or one in which there has been some muscle damage such as a long run. You can include protein in your smoothie just to keep hunger in check or as a meal replacement.

Protein options include whey protein, casein protein, soy protein, pea protein, hemp protein or a blend of various protein. Find a supplement that has minimal if any added ingredients other than your protein of choice. One scoop usually provides about 20 to 25 g of protein.

Third, pick a fruit. Fresh fruit or frozen fruit (no sugar added!) can be used. Bananas add a nice texture to a shake and can be combined with berries, cherries, dates, papaya, mango, or pineapple. Fruit added carbohydrates, and antioxidant vitamins.

Next, veggies can add color and even more nutrients to a shake. Spinach works well, but you can also try kale, chard, beet greens, pumpkin puree, carrots, or a powdered greens supplement.

Another addition that can add healthy fats and a nice consistency are nuts. Try cashews, walnuts, almonds and their corresponding nut butters. You can also add flax, hemp or chia seeds. Keep portions to 1 tbsp. or thumb size to manage calories.

Other items that you can add to smoothies include yogurt, which add protein and carbohydrate to your smoothie. Greek style yogurt packs in an even higher amount of protein. Oats or granola add some good texture, as well as additional carbohydrate if needed for recovery from a tough workout.

Monique Ryan, MS, RDN, LDN, CSSD provide nutrition programs for Ironman and Marathon athletes in the Chicago area and nationwide.