A high calorie, protein rich smoothie is the perfect meal for gaining weight and building muscle. A smoothie allows you to ingest a large number of calories in a relatively easy to make, easy to drink, and easy to digest liquid form. Not to mention that rich, creamy smoothies are easy on your taste buds as well.
From a bodybuilding perspective, smoothies are the perfect meal replacement foods because of their sheer versatility. You can control the macronutrient content of smoothies simply by adding or removing ingredients from it. Want more protein? Add a scoop or two of whey protein powder. Want less fat? Replace whole milk with skimmed milk. Want more vitamins? Simply add in extra fruits. Because of this, most bodybuilders prefer a large smoothie immediately before and after workouts to give their body the nutrition it needs.
Of course, as any bodybuilder would know, building muscle is a combination of eating adequate amount of protein (approximately 1-1.5gm of protein for every pound of bodyweight), and maintaining a caloric surplus. While managing the protein requirement is relatively easy by eating plenty of meats and protein shakes, many bodybuilders struggle to maintain a calorie surplus. This might come as a surprise, but eating in excess of 3000 calories per day can be quite taxing. And this is exactly where smoothies come in handy.
There are a number of ingredients you can add to smoothies to up their calorie count. As a bodybuilder, you won’t go wrong by adding any (or all!) of these seven ingredients to your smoothies…
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7 Ingredients That Increase Caloric Content of Smoothies for Muscle Building:
Every bodybuilder worth his salt knows the nutritional benefits of bananas. Despite being a fruit, bananas pack in a lot of calories. Plus, bananas are also one of the best sources of potassium – a vital mineral that helps maintain optimum blood pressure and circulation.
A medium sized banana packs in as much as 110 calories, derived largely from carbohydrates (approximately 25-30gm). Bananas have a miniscule amount of protein – around 1-2gm, depending on the size of the fruit – and almost no fat content.
Best of all, bananas are incredibly versatile and enhance the taste of any smoothie. Add in a couple to your vanilla smoothie, and you’ll up the calorie count by over 200 calories in an instant. No wonder bodybuilders always keep a stack of bananas handy in the kitchen!
Rich in monounsaturated fats (i.e. the ‘good’ fats) and protein, tasty, and relatively inexpensive, almonds are the perfect additive to any smoothie. 1oz (around 24 whole kernels) of almonds contains approximately 168 calories, with 14gm of fats, 6gm of carbohydrates, and 6gm of protein. Add in a handful of almonds to a smoothie, and not only will you improve the taste, but also add in an extra hundred or so calories to the smoothie – perfect for a bodybuilder in the bulking phase.
#3. Peanut Butter
It’s hard not to like peanut butter. It is calorie-rich, packs in plenty of protein, and makes anything from sandwiches to smoothies taste twice as good.
One serving (2tbsp) of peanut butter packs in up to 188 calories with 16gm of fat (7.7gm of monounsaturated fat), 6.3gm of carbohydrates, and 8gm of protein. A couple of tablespoons of peanut butter in your chocolate shake will not only make it taste heavenly, but also increase the caloric content up almost 200 calories – the perfect fuel for your starving muscles after a workout.
#4. Wheat Germ
Not many bodybuilders may be acquainted with wheat germ, which is rather unfortunate because this ‘superfood’ is one of the best sources of natural dietary fiber and protein. Wheat germ is essentially the reproductive part of wheat that germinates and grows into a wheat plant. Consequently, it packs in a lot of nutrients in a relatively small kernel.
Wheat germ has a rather neutral taste, so you can add it to a smoothie without altering its flavor drastically. It has a texture similar to oats and can be bought at any grocery store (in fact, the Quaker Oats company also sells toasted wheat germ).
Nutritionally, 1oz of wheat germ packs in around 108 calories with 14gm of carbohydrates (4.3gm of dietary fiber) and a strong 8.2gm of protein. It is also a rich source of iron and omega-3 fatty acids, making it one of the best foods known to man.
Add in a couple of ounces of wheat germ to your smoothie to ‘supercharge’ it with the goodness of extra protein, omega-3 fatty acids, iron and of course, increase calories, without compromising on the taste!
Experienced bodybuilders have long known of the health benefits of flaxseed. This grain is one of nutritionally densest foods known to man, packing in an astonishing amount of fiber, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty in a tiny package.
Calorically, 1tbsp of flaxseed packs in approximately 37 calories with 3gm of fats, 2gm of carbohydrates, and 1.3gm of protein. Besides this rich macronutrient profile, flaxseed is also a very rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and rarely found minerals such as manganese.
Flaxseed can be ground-up and used in smoothies without altering its taste. 2-3 tablespoons of flaxseed in a smoothie will not only increase the calorie content by more than 100 calories, but also fulfill you daily requirements for omega-3 fatty acids and various antioxidants.
#6. Ice Cream
Use ice cream in a smoothie if you care little about the macronutrient profile and just want to make sure that you maintain a calorie surplus. Nutritionally, there is little to recommend in ice cream since it largely consists of fat and carbohydrates with a couple of grams of protein at boot. The high carb and fat content, however, also makes it the ideal additive to increase the caloric content of smoothies. Not to mention that a scoop of chocolate-chip or vanilla ice cream can make a smoothie taste 5 times as good!
It won’t win you any healthy eating competitions, but for sheer taste, caloric density, and ease of use, you can’t beat Nutella as an additive to smoothies. Nutella’s hazelnut spread is virtually concentrated carbohydrates and fats in a tasty chocolate flavor. 1 tablespoon of Nutella packs in a whopping 100 calories, with 6gm of fats and 11gm of carbohydrates. A couple of tablespoons in your chocolate smoothie will not only enhance the taste twofold, but also increase the calorie count by a good 200 calories or so. Weight gain in a nutshell!
Smoothies are infinitely versatile and you can go far beyond these 7 ingredients to increase their caloric content. You can add yogurt, oats, high-calorie fruits such as mangoes, whole milk, and even entire chocolate bars such as Snickers to your smoothie when bulking up as a bodybuilder. Remember, that when trying to gain weight, your objective should be to eat at least 500 more calories than you burn while eating an adequate amount of protein. These additives to your smoothie will help you do just that.
Here are my Top 8 tips for Healthy Weight Gain.