National Football League (NFL) athletes are subjected to a long list of stressors, including intense schedules with grueling training, long games and significant travel. They need consistent fuel to support the energy needed for training and competition, as well as a variety of nutrients to support recovery, growth and overall health. Unfortunately, their busy schedule limits the time they have available to prepare nutritious food and even impacts the time they have to eat. Nutritious refuel shakes are an easy way for athletes to get the calories and nutrients they need to perform at a high level and recover from exhaustive training and competitions.
How To Make A Nutritionally Balanced Refuel Shake
A nutritionally balanced shake requires a combination of ingredients that together provide carbohydrate, protein, fat, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. It should also include a source of fiber and even probiotics to support gut health. While that might sound like a challenge, you can get all of those nutrients with just a few simple ingredients. Here’s a look at what goes into the refuel shake that I have served NFL athletes at training camp.
My all-time favorite shake ingredient is cow’s milk. It’s readily available, portable and packed full of a wide variety of nutrients. Just one cup of milk provides carbohydrates and 13 essential nutrients, like protein, calcium, potassium, just to name a few.
Greek yogurt delivers the additional protein needed to support muscle repair, along with probiotics which help to support gut health. It also gives a creamy texture to the shake.
Another key ingredient to blend into your nutrition shake is fruit. Fruit provides additional carbohydrates for energy, as well as fiber and a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. My favorite combination is banana and strawberries, but you can use any combination of fruit you want.
We’re not done adding the carbohydrates yet. Honey is a source of simple sugars and adds a bit of natural sweetness to the shake.
Peanut Butter and Flax Seeds
The last macronutrient needed to make a nutritionally balanced shake is fat. Like carbohydrates, dietary fats act as an important energy source. They also help your body to absorb certain fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin D. Peanut butter is a great source of healthy fats and tastes great in a shake. If you don’t like the flavor of peanut butter, flaxseeds are another option. They are a rich source of omega – 3 fatty acids that can help minimize inflammation and support heart health. It’s a bonus if you add both of these ingredients!
Do It Yourself: NFL Training Camp Refuel Shake Recipe
This carbohydrate and protein-based shake is not only a powerful way to refuel after exhaustive training or competition, but it can also provide energy in preparation for training or a competition. Just be sure to have it a few hours before activity so there is enough time to digest and absorb it.
- 1 cup skim milk
- 1 cup strawberries
- ½ banana
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Bonus Ingredient*: 1 teaspoon flaxseeds
Put all ingredients in a high-powered blender with ice and process until smooth. Serve immediately.
70 grams carbohydrates
28 grams protein
10 grams fat