Smoothies are big business. First they were an indulgent way to get a couple of your five-a-day, then a high-end gym staple and now ubiquitous.
But while enterprising supermarkets and juice bars are engaged in an arms-race of flavour combinations – mango and mint is surprisingly good – are they actually doing anyone any good? It’s tough to say. A typical bottle of Innocent, the UK’s biggest brand, packs in 33g of sugar, essentially the same as a can of Coke (possibly not surprising, since it’s been majority-owned by Coca-Cola since 2013). The obvious problem: you’ll only come back if they taste good, and our stupid caveman brains love sugar.
So what’s the fix? Simple: make your own. By sticking to a few simple rules, you can customise your smoothie to your own fitness goals, and only put in what you need to support your training. Or, to make it even easier, just use our recipes below.
The Pre-Workout Energiser
Step away from the double espresso and Metallica megamix: if you’re aiming to get the most from your workout, you want a more targeted approach. “The best pre-workout snacks make you feel satisfied and excited to exercise without leaving you feeling bloated or tired,” says nutritionist Lee Holmes.
“That’s exactly what this smoothie’s designed for. The frozen banana gives you digestible carbs for energy, but it also has a drizzle of healthy fats in the tahini, as well as a great source of vegetable protein from cacao and spinach, to fuel you up for a squat session.
“Cacao is also a performance-enhancer and can help with muscle recovery and growth. Besides, who doesn’t get excited when they’re drinking a chocolate smoothie?”
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and whizz until smooth, then drink immediately. If you’re looking to economise, frozen spinach works almost as well as fresh.
- ½ a peeled frozen banana
- 45g baby English spinach leaves
- 1tsp tahini
- 1tbsp raw cacao nibs