My Plant Protein Blend & Post-Workout Smoothie {Recipes}

I have a love/hate relationship with post-workout smoothies, shakes, drinks… whatever you’d like to call them. I’m sometimes into them, I’m sometimes not and my thoughts on them keep changing as I learn more and more. But I have to say: with the warmer weather, learning more about the potential benefits and the convenience of mix, shake and go… I am on more of the love side at the moment.

First, let’s talk protein powder. When I was eating a mainly plant-based diet, I supplemented with protein powder quite often. I used quite a few different protein powders (like these and these) and had a bit of a love affair with protein pancakes. You know how I feel about eating real food and well protein powder is not exactly food. But if it is of good quality and you are eating an overall nourishing diet, I think that it is a beneficial option.

There are plenty of junk protein powders out there, heavily processed, filled with sugar and other chemicals, so be sure to do your research and read your labels. My friend Gabby actually introduced me to a Canadian brand of protein powders and other goodies called North Coast Naturals – you can read my review of NCN here and check out Gabby’s post and her homemade vegan protein blend here. I totally love NCN’s products and have been enjoying them in my own protein blend in a smoothie post-workout.

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I promise I’ll get to the recipes but let me geek out on nutrition a bit first.

We know that is is important to consume protein after a workout because it provides the necessary amino acids (the building blocks of protein) for our muscles to repair from our activity. The idea behind protein shakes is that it skips a digestive step because the nutrition is already in liquid form so our bodies do not have to work as hard to break down the nutrients, especially the amino acids.

When it comes to protein, there is debate over the issue of foods being a complete protein source. A complete protein source is a food that contains all of the essential amino acids – the 9 amino acids that our body can’t produce so we must obtain them from food. Animal protein are complete protein sources. Some plant proteins are complete sources (like hemp) but generally the idea with a plant based diet is to eat a variety of foods to obtain all of the essential amino acids.

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Many studies show that the most important amino acid for muscle repair is leucine. Leucine is the most abundant branch chain amino acid (aka muscle protein) found in our muscles. So after a workout, leucine consumption is necessary for repair and recovery. 100% New Zealand whey protein is arguably the best protein powder source post-workout as it contains a lot of leucine – a 17g portion of whey protein powder contains approx. 2.8g of leucine. [source] 

Sounds good right? It is. But whey protein is derived from dairy and that doesn’t always agree with my tummy (or others). Plant based protein is hypo-allergenic and often easier to digest. I genuinely love the idea of plant based principles so decided to research plant protein a bit further. My friend Deryn is also my contact at North Coast Naturals so I asked if she could send me the amino acid profiles for NCN’s brown rice protein and hemp protein.

Here’s what I discovered:

A 17g portion of brown rice protein contains approx. 1g of leucine, obviously less than whey. But it also contains other essential amino acids and 15% of the total amount of the amino acids are branch chain amino acids (muscle protein).

A 17g portion of hemp protein contains approx. 0.7g of leucine as well as other essential amino acids. 16% of the total amount of the amino acids are branch chain amino acids.

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Overall, a pretty solid nutrition profile. There are several studies that indicate that brown rice protein yields the same benefits of recovery and muscle growth as whey protein yields. I do not think there is a “one size fits all” or perfect answer. I do know that there are many benefits of incorporating lots of plants into your diet. I love vegetables. But I also really like meat. Woah that’s weird to say.

So my thinking was this: combine all the awesome-ness of plant protein to yield a tasty, nourishing, satisfying, protein-packed and digestive friendly blend. Okay so I will stop rambling and actually give you the recipes. I combined the brown rice protein and hemp protein to create a more complete amino acid profile. I also added some of NCN’s ultimate daily cleanse for some healthy fiber and unsweetened cocoa powder for some flavor.

Remember that we also need to consume carbs after a workout (to replenish our glycogen storage) so I typically make my smoothie with a banana – but sweet potato or squash would be a great (arguably a better) option too. Starchy carbs after a workout are ideal because they replace our muscle glycogen storage. Many days I am on-the-go so I make the smoothie the night before and keep it in the fridge to take to the gym with me in the morning. The trick with pre-making this smoothie is to add about a teaspoon of lemon juice – it will stay fresh this way. It’s a satisfying, simple and super nutritious post-workout snack.

Also remember: your post-workout (whether it is a drink or food) does not replace a meal – it is a necessary source of additional nutrients. 

Hope you enjoy: refuel your muscles and replenish your body.

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My Plant Protein Blend

Ingredients (Makes approx. 3 cups = 24 2-tbsp servings)

Instructions

1. Mix it all up and store in glass jar or airtight container.

2. Use 2 tbsp. (or more) in smoothies, shakes, drinks.

 

My Post-Workout Smoothie

Ingredients (Makes 1 smoothie)

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 banana (or approx. 1/3 cup of cooked sweet potato or squash or pumpkin)
  • 2 tbsp. of The Little Honey Bee plant protein blend (see recipe above)
  • optional: 1/2 tsp. of lemon juice if making in advance

Instructions

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender, blend until smooth and enjoy after your workout!

 

 

Questions of the day…

Thoughts on protein powder? What have you been having post-workout? 

 

 

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43 thoughts on “My Plant Protein Blend & Post-Workout Smoothie {Recipes}

  1. I am loving these informative posts! Great information once again! I do like using hemp protein powder for a bit of a protein kick. I just whack a little in a smoothie/porridge/pancakes – it doesn’t normally affect the flavour at all. I love the idea of your mixed protein blend!

  2. I haven’t really thought much about why specific protein powders are better. I typically use plant fusion or a whey powder I get from Costco. Protein smoothies are a good recovery aid. Now that I’m trying to work on weights more I have been making sure to include protein post workout.

  3. I have been out of protein powder for a while now, and I have been looking for a good one to buy. I have thought about buying the Vega protein powder because I have heard good things about it.

  4. I like using protein powder as a quick post workout fix as well. I like experimenting with different types and brands but some have a terrible flavor and if I won’t drink it the nutrition doesn’t matter. How did these taste???

    1. I would never post something that doesn’t taste good :) I’m quite happy with this flavor! The smoothie is banana-y but I like bananas.

  5. Love the idea for this smoothie, and the info on protein powder really has me wondering what I have been consuming. Thanks!!

    1. I really like Sunwarrior! My favorite is the natural “Warrior Blend” (it doesn’t have any sweeteners or gunk) but it is quite pricey (in Canada at least). So the North Coast Naturals is a good option for me with a similar amino acid/protein profile. But definitely recommend it and if it were to go on sale, I’d buy it :)

  6. Ok, I absolutely love that you’ve created your own plant protein blend. I need to try this out– I am always on the hunt for the best protein blend with the most all natural ingredients that will fuel me before and after a workout. This rocks!! So much great info packed into this post. Oh, and I love smoothies… the only time it’s a hate relationship is when I drink too much and get too full off of them. ;)

  7. that sounds awesome! I also use a plant based protein- sun warrior. But the taste isn’t so hot. I’ve been adding in some PB2 with a banana, and it’s like a milkshake!

  8. I was thinking of doing a post on smoothies, so this is interesting. I mostly am a bit opposed to them because many of them are unhealthy & loaded with sugar (commercial ones) & spike blood sugar. Many of them also lack fiber, adequate protein, & healthy fats… but, I like that the ones you posted at least have protein. ;)
    As for my thoughts on protein supplements – not a fan. I think people rely way too much on them & consume too much. Many of them have SO many ingredients & sweeteners in them. Like you said – eat REAL food, you can’t go wrong. As for my post-workout… nothing specific or planned. Real food, I guess – some protein & fats! ;)

  9. YES. Perfect timing as always. I have been looking for a protein that won’t tear my stomach to pieces but still give my muscles everything they need. And let’s be real, as a college girl living on her own, $59 for 18 servings is not feasible for me. Thank you for some new options! Any opinions on garden of life raw protein?
    Also, I love all the data you share. I’m kind of a health information nut. I just love to learn about the body! I want to be more well versed in things and was wondering where you learn your information? For example, I’d like to be able to spout off exactly what grains do to the body and how they affect digestion etc. any suggestions? :)

    1. I feel ya on the cost! I have never heard of Garden of Life. I can definitely look it up and get back to you – shoot me an email. I learn most of this from my courses (I’m in school for nutrition) but otherwise there are a few resources online I like: Mark’s Daily Apple, Balanced Bites, Dr. Mercola – and I have a lot of nutrition/health books too!

  10. I’ve never really thought to blend my own protein. Great idea! I’m big on using real food to fuel and refuel after working out so don’t usually consume protein powders but lately I’ve had to with how busy and crazy my life has been. I recently discovered a really yummy grass-fed protein powder from reserveage. So good and clean!

  11. Thanks for sharing this info! I’m like you where sometimes I’m really into shakes and other times I’m not. I do prefer to eat real food instead of a powder but sometimes you do need that quick fix.

  12. This is such a well-timed post. I have been thinking hard about protein powder for months and I have the exact same back and forth going on. I’d like to keep it out of my diet, but at the same time, it’s such a convenient way to add protein, especially after a workout. Grumble! Your blend sounds great though. :)

  13. WOW! what an awesome, super informative and well thought out post :) seriously SO impressive! I love my Isopure protein powder! And I have dabbled in Vega ones powders as well! Thanks for sharing such great research backed info!

  14. Look at you emailing to find out the amino acid profile – so resourceful! Love that this is super light but still gives you a bit of protein, and also love the idea of adding in lemon juice to keep the smoothie fresh!

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