Get your morning smoothie to build muscle, aid with recovery and maintain healthy weight with former pro ironman and founder of Vega, Brendan Brazier’s top vegan smoothie boosts.
The benefit of making smoothies at home is that we can add in as many nutrient-dense ingredients as we like. Compared with many pre-made store bought options which are often high in calories and sugar, homemade shakes and smoothies are customizable and more cost-effective. We can also create smoothies that help us achieve our goals, whether you want to improve your muscular strength, boost your recovery after a workout, or maintain a healthy weight. What’s my ideal smoothie? One that contains lots of dark leafy greens, fresh fruit and a plant-based protein source.
Here are my 5 go-to plant-based protein smoothie boosts:
1. Hemp seed
Though tiny, hemp seeds are a source of complete protein—containing all 10 essential amino acids. With a creamy, nutty taste, these seeds are also high in plant-based Omega-3s. Add a tablespoon of hemp seeds to your morning smoothie.
Nuts (almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, and a host of others) offer high amounts of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Add whole raw nuts to your smoothie, or scoop a tablespoon of nut butter. Raw cacao and hazelnuts are an especially decadent combination.
Yes, you can put grains in your smoothie. When cooked, this protein-rich, gluten-free pseudograin (technically a seed) makes a smooth addition to your morning drink.
4. Chia seeds
Like hemp seeds, chia seeds are an excellent source of Omega-3s. Plus they are rich in fiber and protein, and because they absorb up to 10 times their weight in water, can be very satiating. Mix chia seeds into your smoothie and then let sit for 5 to 10 minutes to create a thicker smoothie.
5. Premium plant-based protein powder
Plant-based, multisource protein powders are a convenient way to add high-quality protein to your favorite smoothie. Vega Sport Performance Protein has 25 grams of premium plant-based protein (from pea, hemp, SaviSeed and sprouted whole grain brown rice), as well as 5000 mg of BCAAs and 50000mg of glutamine per serving.
Benefits of Minimally Processed Plant-based Proteins:
1. Lower in saturated fat, with no cholesterol
High levels of saturated fat and cholesterol in your blood contribute to clogged arteries. If your diet is rich in saturated fats and cholesterol (found mostly in meat, dairy and eggs), you are not supporting optimal cardiovascular health. Unsaturated fats (found in nuts and seeds, as well as avocados) on the other hand, help to keep your heart healthy.
2. More alkaline-forming
Plant-based proteins are more alkaline-forming than proteins from animals (meat, dairy, and eggs). Your body naturally has, and will always have, an alkaline pH. But, when you eat a lot of acid-forming foods, your body has to pull minerals from your bones to maintain an alkaline pH. Adding more alkaline-forming foods from a clean, plant-based diet can help you combat inflammation, reduce stress, and protect bone health. A good way to know if a food is alkaline-forming is to check if it is a whole food, minimally processed, and dark green. Plant-based proteins like hemp, nuts, and seeds are more alkaline-forming than meat and dairy.
3. Better for the environment
Diet affects the environment even more than your commute. It takes more water, energy and fuel to produce animal products. Switching to plant-based proteins saves water, reduces carbon emissions, and protects arable land—all of which have a huge environmental impact.
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Originally appeared at AskMen.com
Brendan Brazier is a former professional Ironman triathlete and two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion. He is now a successful performance nutrition consultant, bestselling author of the Thrive book series, formulator of the award-winning line of plant-based Vega nutritional products and creator of Thrive Forward, an online video series designed to inspire and educate people about plant-based nutrition. For more information, please visit www.brendanbrazier.com and follow Brendan on Twitter.Photo credit: Flickr/Miriam