By Mike Roussell, PhD
4 Steps for the Ultimate Smoothie
Reality: We don’t always have time to sit down to the perfect meal. That’s the beauty of the smoothie: It’s a perfect on-the-go meal, delivering the nutrition you need to build muscle and feel your best.
But not all smoothies are created equal, especially when you use the wrong ingredients. Whether you’re hitting the gym juice bar or blending at home, follow these four rules, and your body will thank you.
01 Start With Protein
If it doesn’t have protein, it isn’t a good smoothie. I’ve seen many gym juice bars with menus full of exotic-sounding blended drinks devoid of protein. Aim for at least 15 grams of protein in any shake. Vanilla protein powder is a great default option (I love it too!).
Great Protein Options: Protein powder, Greek yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese
02 Keep the Carbs Natural
Yes, you want carbs in your smoothie – but that doesn’t mean loading up on orange juice and apple juice. Whole fruits (and vegetables) should make up your main carb sources. But exercise restraint: Keep it to a 1 cup of fruit per smoothie. Add in grains (such as oats) if you’re downing this after your workout.
Great Carb Options: Blueberries, cherries, bananas, pineapples, raspberries, strawberries, mangos, apples.
03 Always Go Nuts
A complete meal includes good fats, and your best bet for this is nuts. In addition to delivering good fats (and a bit of protein, too), they’ll also give you fiber (key to helping you feel full) and antioxidants. Every smoothie should have 2-3 tbsp of nuts and 1 tbsp of seeds.
Finest Fat Options: Pistachios, almonds, walnuts, pecans, and peanuts are ideal nuts. Your best seed options are flaxseed, chia seeds, and hemp seeds. All of these offer high level of antioxidants, essential nutrients, and fiber.
04 Sneak in Bonus Nutrition
Almost every juice bar offers upgrades, and the right ones are a great way to level up your smoothie, delivering nutrients that can help you recover or energize you without excess calories. Just don’t overdo it; aim for one upgrade in each shake.
Ideal upgrades: Cold green tea or cold-brew coffee will aid your energy levels will give you an added boost via caffeine, greens powders can help with additional vitamins and antioxidants, and creatine monohydrate is great for improving strength and power.
Muscled Up Strawberry Banana Classic Smoothie
Here’s my protein-rich take on the venerable strawberry banana smoothie, a perfect shake for breakfast or any postlift meal.
1 cup strawberries
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
2 tsp walnuts
1 tsp creatine monohydrate
1 tbsp hemp seeds
2 cups water
Add all the ingredients to a blender, blend, and enjoy!
AUTHOR BIO: Mike Roussell, PhD
Mike Roussell, PhD, is an author, speaker, and nutrition strategist who has spent more than 20 years transforming complex nutritional concepts into practical habits that change lives.
He’s worked with a host of clients, including NBA all-stars, high-performing tech execs, and TV stars, teaching all of them what he calls “high-performance healthspan nutrition,” an approach built to help you live longer while building plenty of muscle and strength.