This time of year is one of my favourites. The earth is changing. Everything is so green it's almost blinding and I finally get the chance to shed those boots and runners and sink my feet into the grass and do some grounding. Om shanti shanti shanti... Another reason I love this time of year is because my students finally get the chance to get onstage at competition and perform their hearts out. It's pretty neat to see the changes they have made in themselves and how much their dancing has evolved over the last 7 months. I am always a proud teacher.
Dance competitions can be gruelling and if your body doesn't recover quickly from one day to the next then you may not do well. The demanding nature of dance and the fact that dancer's don't always take good care of themselves (nutritionally speaking) made me want to create a smoothie that helps give them (and all athletes) energy and a quick recovery after an intense training session.
Despite what people might say, Carbohydrates are good! Trust me! Carbs are our bodies short term energy supply, broken down into sugar, which is stored as glycogen and is used for energy during exercise. The glycogen in our liver maintains our blood sugar level and the glycogen in our brain and blood keep our body functioning. If muscle and liver glycogen stores become depleted (such as after prolonged exercise) the result is fatigue and reduced strength, stamina and performance. However, our bodies can only store a small amount of glycogen so we need to keep re-filling these stores with carbohydrate foods. The best thing when training is to always try to keep glycogen levels full (which means eating carbohydrates on a regular basis). To keep glycogen stores full we want to fuel the body with mostly complex carbs before and after exercise.
Not all carbs are the same. There are complex carbs and simple carbs. Simple carbs are split into 2 groups: what we want to avoid eating regularly (processed foods, sugars, white flours, chocolate, jam, cereals) and fruit (good for us!). Complex carbs are the carbs we want to be eating more of- whole grains, vegetables (think yams and squash), beans and lentils.
Sugary foods (soft drinks or sweets) before exercise may cause hypoglycemia, fatigue and reduced performance because of the quick spike and rapid fall of blood sugar so avoid these before exercise. Immediately following exercise is a great time to stock up on carbs because this is when our muscle cells can absorb glycogen the most efficiently. Eaten with some protein is key (for example, a banana and some nut butter like in this smoothie!) as protein helps the muscles recover. Remember, the more full our glycogen stores are, the better our performance and energy and the less protein breakdown.
Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free
Makes 1 large smoothie
1 large frozen banana
1.5Tbsp nut butter
1 cup plant milk (almond, coconut, hemp, etc.)
3-4 fresh Medjool dates, pitted
1Tbsp hemp seeds
1tsp. maca powder (optional but is good for helping stabilize moods, energy and hormones)
2 ice cubes (or try coconut water ice cubes to help rebalance electrolytes lost while sweating)
Optional add in: handful of frozen blueberries-trust me it's delish!
1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend away. Ta-da! Delicious goodness for your body.
Love and light,