So the question is, what do we as bodybuilders want from our nutrition?
Things such as optimal energy, increased anabolism (muscle protein synthesis), androgens (testosterone & DHT), optimal blood flow (for a great pump and endurance during sets, as well as to be healthy without inflammation and endless days of unhealthy muscle pains known as DOMS). As a side bonus we also want pain relief from DOMS or even to be able to push out a few more reps, as well as to have our body adapt optimally to exercise as fast as possible with adaptogens. And mental focus with nootropics to perfect that mind to muscle connection.
So now that we’ve listed a few things that we want to focus on, let’s look at the important stuff that we want to put into our bodybuilding smoothie.
When you consume nitrate rich foods, your body coverts it to nitric oxide through the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway. This will result in an increased level of nitric oxide in your blood which will cause vasodilation.
Vasodilation will then result in improved blood flow to the muscles which will transport oxygen, nutrients, and will remove waste products from the muscles.
For me, consuming even a minimum of one smoothie (2 cups) improved the amount of reps I could do significantly by 2-4 reps.
Also, the improved blood flow will increase recovery of muscles, as a result of a better transport of nutrients to the muscles and the removal of waste products from the muscles.
Dietary sources that are rich in nitrates are:
lettuce, celery, rocket, spinach, beets and radish.
Boiling and frying show the greatest decrease in nitrates, while other cooking methods such as steaming also shows a decrease.
Juicing vegetables show negligible nitrite content.
That’s why I prefer to blend my vegetables to get the most benefits from them.
Betaine, aka TMG (trimethylglycine) increases exercise performance (total power), hypertrophy, reduces oxidative stress and DOMS.
Betaine supplementation shows to increase hypertrophy more in the supplementation group than in the placebo group, however strength was unaffected (study).
Supplementing with 1.25g of betaine twice daily for two weeks increases GH (6.1%) and IGF-1 (7.8%) and lowers cortisol concentrations (6.1%) compared to placebo, as well as increases phosphorylation of anabolic signalling pathways, Akt and p70 S6 k (study).
Foods that are high in betaine include:
spinach, quinoa, beetroot, amaranth and wheat bran (but I don’t advise consuming this one).
I prefer sticking to spinach, quinoa and/or amaranth as a source of betaine for my smoothies (beets I would rather juice).
Natural steroids (ecdysterone) also have a positive effect on hypertrophy. Supplementation with it is even classified to be equivalent or better than synthetic steroids. It doesn’t increase testosterone but it increases muscle protein synthesis by binding to beta-estrogen receptors. The doses found in food are not high enough to exert an anabolic effect (unless you eat a ton of foods containing natural steroids), but I’m sure going to do everything naturally possible to get the best physiological response from exercise.
Here are a few foods high in ecdysterone
- spinach, quinoa, celery, asparagus root, and suma root.
All of these can work great in a smoothie.
When you exercise, your body produces free radicals. Without these free radicals your body can’t adapt to exercise. With chronic oxidative stress (way too much free radicals) your body may then inhibit the physiological adaptation to exercise and contribute to negative exercise physiological states, including the development of overreaching, and in severe cases, overtraining. So you need these free radicals, but excessive amounts causes havoc in your body by inducing inflammation and is even the starting point of disease. They will also slow down your recovery. So you need a balance.
Antioxidants will fight against these free-radicals and help you stay healthy and recover optimally. Antioxidant supplementation may alter and blunt the physiological response of exercise, but we need to ingest antioxidants through our diet at good levels to ensure optimal adaption.
Steaming some herbs has been shown to increase their antioxidant activity, but mostly all other cooking processes of food (excluding herbs) lowers the antioxidant value. The more you cook your food, the more dead they become.
Foods high in antioxidants:
Herbs, spices, roots (ginger turmeric etc), nuts (pecans), seeds (chia), vegetables (cucumber, bell pepper, spinach etc) & fruits (apples, berries etc).
Low in calories
This kind of smoothie is low in calories so it can be added into any meal spot on a training day or an off day. It is low GI which will sustain energy more consistently than high GI. This will also ensure fat doesn’t get stored.
Muscle protein synthesis
For this you need protein, as protein increases muscle protein synthesis.
A positive protein balance (from adequate protein consumption) will ensure optimal recovery and muscle repair.
Good sources of protein to add into the smoothie is milk, hemp seed protein powder and eggs.
However, muscle protein synthesis is inhibited in muscles when you have a zinc, magnesium and vitamin K deficiency (study).
Testosterone & DHT
We always want testosterone to be high, as testosterone is very anabolic and will also increase muscle protein synthesis. The higher your testosterone, the greater the effect.
So what does our smoothie need to boost high T & DHT?
- Antioxidants (lower oxidative stress)
- Minerals (calcium, zinc, magnesium, boron, selenium, etc)
- Vitamins (A, B6, D, E, etc)
- Right fats (saturated and monounsaturated)
- Amino acids
- Herbs (ashwagandha and tongkat ali)
So here is our smoothie’s ingredient list:
1 cup/250ml milk
Milk contains a great source of protein, fats and carbs. It also contains lots of bio-available calcium, selenium, vitamin A and D and other nutrients. It also increases testosterone, DHT and IGF-1 levels as it contains natural hormone precursors.
1 heaped tbsp/30g hemp seed protein powder
Hemp seed powder is a complete protein as it contains all the essential amino acids. The protein is also 90-97% absorbable, which makes it a great source of protein (study). And is also a great source of magnesium.
A nice heaped tbsp would be about 30g of powder and would give you 52%+ DV of magnesium.
It also provides 90% of your DV of iron and 34% zinc per 30g.
Cucumber is also high in antioxidants, but not only that, it also flushes waste pockets out of the body.
This superfood contains very high levels of nitrates, natural steroids, betaine, minerals (magnesium, potassium) as well as vitamins (A, B6, C, E, K, folate) and antioxidants. It also promotes detox by stimulating phase II detoxification enzymes of the liver.
1-2cm Ginger root & 1cm turmeric root
Ginger will provide you with a clear physical and mental energy boost. It also aids in digestion, decreases nausea and contains powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.
2g a day will reduce muscle pain from exercise and may speed up recovery (study). But I prefer to consume about 5g<.
Ginger supplementation also increases testosterone (17.7%), follicle stimulating hormone (17.6%) and luteinizing hormone (43.2%) in infertile men after three months. But might not have the same effect in men with normal to higher levels of testosterone.
Turmeric also has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents. It fights against cancer, relieves pain and improves joint health. It is also able to increase nitric oxide – which increases blood flow (study), and adiponectin (which increases fat oxidation and insulin sensitivity). Absorption must be enhanced with black pepper.
1-2 heaped tbsp Chia seeds
These seeds are high in antioxidants, protein, fiber, omegas and particularly high in nutrients such as magnesium, iron, selenium, zinc, vitamin K and B6.
It’s also a good source of protein.
It’s particularly high in ALA omega 3 and consumption of chia seeds can increase EPA omega 3 levels (study). Omega 3 has also been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis in the elderly.
ALA from chia seeds are anti-inflammatory, with cardiovascular protective properties, and lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as protects against arthritis and so on.
Omegas also help to lube your joints.
Chia seeds have been shown to have good digestibility, so it shouldn’t plug you up or cause swelling and abdominal pains.
1 large/ 125g Banana
Bananas are a good source of potassium (an electrolyte that promotes vasodilation), B6 (increases DHT, lowers prolactin, and increases GABA and serotonin in the brain) as well as fructose & glucose for energy replenishment. Bananas are also a source of inulin, a soluble fiber that ferments in the gut to provide healthy gut bacteria and promotes gut health.
½ Bell pepper
Is high in vitC (134% of DV), antioxidants and other bio-active compounds.
Apples are very high in antioxidants, including quercetin (which increases DHT levels and testosterone). It also fights against cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma and diabetes.
1-2 large Celery stalks
Celery isn’t very high in any minerals or vitamins, and doesn’t taste so well when consumed on it’s own, but it’s very low in calories. However, it’s a great source of natural steroids, nitrates, antioxidants and helps against high blood sugar and lipids. It also contains a flavone called apigenin which increases StAR. And StAR (steroidogenic acute regulatory protein) increases the transport of cholesterol into the testes for testosterone production.
Are also high in antioxidants and have a neuro-protective effect, they also decrease oxidative stress, reduce inflammation and help to up-regulate endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) for more vasodilation.
1-2 whole Eggs
Eggs, especially when consumed raw, are the best source of good cholesterol. Your body uses it for testosterone production, and it’s been proven that the cholesterol from eggs doesn’t increase the bad cholesterol (LDL) at all. Eggs are also a good source of fat and a natural source of vit D, both of which increase testosterone production. It’s the most bio-available source of protein and the best to increase muscle protein synthesis.
Dried parsley (greatest source of apigenin).
Ashwagandha root extract (boosts testosterone, lowers prolactin, improves sleep, reduces cortisol and boosts your hypertrophy and strength).
Maca powder (increases energy, is an adaptogen, helps prevent osteoporosis, benign prostate hyperplasia, improves memory and learning, protects skin against ultraviolet radiation and helps to balance hormones).
Suma root (contains ecdysterone, balances hormones and is an adaptogenic).
Liquid Boron (increases testosterone, decreases estrogen, increases DHT and lowers cortisol).
Spirulina (helps with detox, is anti-inflammatory and increases healthy lactobacillus in the intestine).
And you’re mare than welcome to add any other beneficial herbs that you can think of.
This smoothie is definitely the best way for me to consume lots of good raw fruits, vegetables, seeds and herbs to maximally promote optimal health.
This will be a great investment for both your health and gym experience, so waste no more time and get your blender right away!
The best kind of blender would be a 1.5L+ glass container with a 1000W motor (or stronger) to blitz all those ingredients to pulp with no hassle.
Gather all your ingredients together and be sure to try this powerful smoothie ASAP. It has and is doing wonders for me, and I know it will do so for you as well.