By Ryan Parsons
Not everyone likes to eat first thing in the morning. And when it comes to losing weight, it probably doesn't matter. If you are officially cutting weight or on a weight reduction diet leading up to a fight, sometimes a quick, healthy breakfast smoothie hits the spot.
For coffee drinkers, this cold brew protein smoothie is a great way to conveniently load up on your nutrition with an additional boost of caffeine. It's also an effective post-workout meal replacer. If you're staying in a hotel room during competition week, this is an easy-to-prepare snack or meal.
Why is this particular combination of ingredients helpful when losing weight?
Because protein helps control cravings, builds muscle mass, prevents weight gain, balances hormones, and boosts mood. Coffee is loaded with antioxidants and cold brew is less acidic and easy to make. Plus, there are several ingredients you can use to customize this smoothie and boost its powerful medicinal benefits even more.
Cold Brew Protein Smoothie Ingredients
- Coffee – Several studies show that caffeine can boost our metabolic rate. This is especially helpful as you work to lose those last few pounds. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, causing it to send signals to the fat cells to break down body fat. Coffee is the largest source of antioxidants in the western diet and may protect from Alzheimer’s disease and liver cirrhosis.
- Turmeric – This bright yellow spice contains curcumin (up to 3% by weight). Numerous studies have linked turmeric with wide-ranging anti-inflammatory effects. In addition to reducing inflammation, it has also been shown to support brain and joint health.
- Omega-3 essential oils – Essential oils must be obtained through our diet. They can have a profound impact on inflammation brain health and help prevent heart disease and stroke. Controlling inflammation is especially important with athletic recovery as well as for preventing long term chronic diseases. They also help lower blood triglycerides levels and are effective in the treatment of depression.
- Chia seeds – These tiny seeds, loaded with fiber, protein, and omega-3 essential fats are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. They help raise HDL cholesterol, the "good" cholesterol that protects against heart attack and stroke. Chia seeds are also rich in antioxidants, and they provide fiber, iron, and calcium. An added benefit - chia seed help create a thicker consistency in the smoothie.
- Cinnamon – Antioxidant-rich cinnamon may reduce the risk of heart disease by reducing levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. It improves insulin sensitivity (this is a good thing) and lower blood sugar levels.
- Spinach – This leafy green superfood is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C. It’s also a good source of dietary fiber, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, protein and choline.
Cold Brew Protein Smoothie Recipe
Preparation: 3 mins
- 8oz cold brew coffee
- 8oz unsweetened almond milk or golden milk
- 2 scoops favorite protein powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp omega-3 essential oils
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- One handful raw spinach
- Combine ingredients in a blender and mix for 30-60 seconds.
- Drink immediately.
Test out the optional, healthy additions to increase the health benefits. Often they can't be detected in the drink.
If you're restricting calories as you prepare to make weight and compete, everything you put in your mouth counts. The food you eat is what your body uses to recover and including additional functional foods that would not normally make it onto your plate is an effective way to give yourself an edge.
Dr. Ryan Parsons is a veteran MMA coach, manager and co-author of The Four Pack Revolution (Rodale, December 2017). He received his doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine from the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic and is the inventor of Radius Wraps, the first combat sport product to undergo a peer-reviewed university clinical trial. He is the author of the Ultimate Weight Cut Guide for Combat Sports Athletes. Ryan has cut weight with elite athletes on five continents in all kinds of places — saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs, hotel rooms, city parks, the beach, and even at an arena under a camera crew’s lights in Brazil.