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The comprehensive guide to post-workout smoothies

Photo: Pixabay/Skeeze

There may be days when a peanut butter-banana smoothie hits the spot after boot camp or when strawberry-chocolate calls your name after barre.

But your post-workout smoothie shouldn’t just appeal to your taste buds, explains Megan Hoffman, fitness director of the ultra-chic Oxygen Fitness in New Canaan, Connecticut. It should meet the refueling needs of the workout you just did.

“If you’ve just hit a spin or a high-intensity interval training class, then you want to replace nutrients and have some protein; if you do hot yoga, then you should sip something super hydrating,” says Hoffman, who created the O Bar juice and smoothie recipes at Oxygen.

“People who don’t refuel after classes miss the opportunity to help their bodies really benefit from the workout. And they’re more likely to snack late at night because they’re still hungry,” she says.

So which smoothie is right for your workout? Read on to find out.

This article was originally published September 5, 2013, and updated March 22, 2016.

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Photo: Today

If you did: Indoor cycling or a long run

Sip on: Chocolate Banana Coffee Smoothie with Turmeric

For “major replenishment” after intense cardio workouts, Hoffman recommends a supercharged smoothie with electrolyte-balancing banana, chocolate protein (“you don’t want to burn through your muscle”), and, surprise, a splash of coffee. “Cardio doesn’t quite have the long after-burn that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) does, so caffeine can help continue to keep your metabolism revving a bit longer,” she says.

Photo: Cookin’ Canuck

If you did: Barre

Sip on: Kale & Apple Green Smoothie

After pulsing, tucking, and toning, Hoffman recommends a nutrient-rich kale-almond-apple smoothie “with loads of calcium for bone health” and fiber to “stave off post-workout hunger and help keep you feeling full.” Why is she into the calcium? “Barre is typically attended by women, who need to focus more on bone health, since we’re more vulnerable to osteoporosis than men. Barre classes and this calcium-rich smoothie do that,” says Hoffman.

Photo: Love.Life.Eat

If you did: HIIT, Tabata, or kickboxing

Sip on: Peanut Butter Banana Protein Smoothie

After a butt-kicking interval class laced with weights, plyometrics, and cardio, yes, you should probably chug some water. But you’d also be wise to replace the carb, fat, and protein stores you’ve burned through, says Hoffman. “If you don’t refuel properly, you likely won’t make progress: You’ll continually break down muscle tissue, and not see strength gains or muscle development, and it could lead to overtraining.” That’s where banana (carb), peanut or almond butter (a healthy fat that also helps cellular function and energy), and chocolate protein for muscle repair come into play.

Photo: Nutrition Stripped

If you did: TRX or strength training

Sip on: Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Some people are really ravenous after strength training, so the fiber in strawberries help fill you up, says Hoffman. They’re also low in sugar and high in antioxidants. A bit of protein helps restore and build muscle. Half a banana helps with electrolyte balance—but watch their sugar. If there’s no sustained cardio, then you don’t need to replace your glycogen stores, Hoffman says, and you can skip the extra calories you might enjoy from almond or peanut butter in a smoothie after a HIIT class.


Photo: Food Recipes HQ

If you did: Dance cardio or yoga

Sip on: Watermelon grapefruit juice

You just soaked the floor with your moves or your yoga flow, so hydrate. Hoffman likes a blend of sweet and tart fresh- or cold-pressed fruit, and this one is just 3 ingredients. “Watermelon is all about rehydration, grapefruit acts as an appetite suppressant—just until [your next meal]—and agave or stevia adds a little sweetness to help balance the bitterness,” she says. Where’s the protein? “Protein is used for muscle repair—not a lot of muscle is being broken down and in need of repair in dance cardio or in yoga,” Hoffman explains.

Photo: Eat Good 4 Life

If you did: Hot yoga

Sip on: Beet Apple Carrot Juice

A 90-minute hot yoga class requires plenty of rehydration to recover. But I find most people, due to the heat and humidity, aren’t necessarily hungry or famished after class, says Hoffman. “I’d go for a juice blend with beets, carrot, apple, and ginger. Beets can help lower blood pressure. They also contain tryptophan, which can help keep you and your mind calm and relaxed long after savasana.”

Can’t get enough of those fruit and veggie blends? These are our top picks for most delicious, innovative juice and smoothie recipes from the last year. And if you’re looking for a new protein powder, these are the 5 healthiest options.