Session: connection failed

Hey, Smoothie! by E.M. Burton - CrossFit Journal

Hey, Smoothie!

By E.M. Burton

In Nutrition

May 30, 2012

PDF Article

E.M. Burton and David “Chef” Wallach go over the finer points of a post-workout or meal-replacement shake.

CrossFit teaches a way of eating that considers both macronutrient balance and food quality. As most athletes know, by weighing and measuring intake and recording it using various metrics, you can tweak your diet to check and improve its effect on your performance.

I have been blending up a version of this smoothie nearly daily for years, having discovered its overall benefits when I was focusing my nutritional goals in preparation for pregnancy. I like it at breakfast, but with some adjustments it could make the base for a recovery shake or mid-afternoon snack.

Smoothie video - [wmv] [mov] [HD mov]

I’m still curious, however. My friend David “Chef” Wallach knows way more about this stuff than I do, so I sought his wise counsel. Needless to say, Chef had some advice to offer when it comes to making a shake.

Free Download


27 Comments on “Hey, Smoothie! ”


wrote …

May be a dumb question but is the sweet potato cooked?


wrote …

Good Article. I'm trying the powder/sweet potato combo asap.


wrote …

Great article.
Still a bit unclear on how to manipulate the ratios but so pleased I've been getting my shake almost spot on.


Bruce, Definitely cooked, the alternative is straight up 'less desirable'. '-)


Travis, dont forget the cinnamon and coffee cubes, delicious business.


wrote …

Love the video Ms. Burton. Why it's nested in the article and practically hidden I have no idea. It should be featured on the mainsite!


wrote …

For the caffeine affect, can I use unsweetened cocoa powder?


wrote …

Hey Chef Wallach, very informative article...but I have a that 4 - 1 ratio after a heavy murph 4 proteins - 1 carb or vice versa??



4:1 carbs to protein is a solid ratio for long haul high intensity work lasting less than an hour and a half. That pretty much covers MOST of CF's longer work efforts, I hope, longer haul endurance athletes require different on-the-road nutrition when it gets over that basic timeline. Most of our athletes can benefit greatly from 2:1 or even 1:1 if its a pure contractile strength day or a day of strength work and a VERY short Metcon.

For those folks eating a moderate to lower carb life, like most CFers, as much as half or more of your daily carbs can be taken PWO with great effect. This is that one time you WANT to take full advantage of your PWO insulin sensitivity. The very best advice? Try one protocol for a period and keep the effects in your logbook just as you would your WOD time or your load PRs. How does your recovery compare to before you started PWO recovery fuel? Sleep? General sense of well being? All a big deal.

If your numbers and perceived recovery is better? Keep it up. If not? Tweak it like you tweak your training. Just be sure to give it enough time to get a real data point. Just as you would not change your training every week expecting better results, dont mess with your fuel every week, let it ride, see what works and adjust from there.



Cocoa powder, as long as there are no crap fillers in it, but pure cocoa, is about 10 mg of caffeine per 5grams of cocoa, a tablespoon more or less. A decent cup of black drip coffee has about 150mg in one cup. You'd need 15 tbs, or just short of a full cup of cocoa powder to get the same caffeine as one cup of frozen brewed coffee cubes.

Do you really REALLY love cocoa powder? ;-)

To be fair, there's theobromine in cocoa, too, which is a pretty jammin' stimulant, but I have yet to see any data that directly correlates increased protein synthesis and consumption of theobromine.


wrote …

That video was oddly awesome!! Great work, love it!!


wrote …

I just love this!!!!! Coffee cubes? I think I will...


wrote …

Thanks Chef, Coffee cubes it is.
I need your opinion on my PWO shake that I've been making for about 10 years.

My workouts range over an hour and it's usually: strength, metcon then either a swim, bike or run starting at 5:45AM, as my work day is slammed all day.
Shake: In my Vitamix, Almond milk (I make my own), 1/3 banana, 3C raw spinach leaves, 1-2 frozen strawberries, 1/3C mixed frozen berries, grnd flax, chia seeds and a scoop to a scoop and a half of whey protein (isolated).

I drink 20oz pwo then have the remaining 20oz about four hour later.

I recover really well and train nearly everyday. No injuries, no issues.

How can I make this better?
thank you!


wrote …

My problem with the C.F. Paleo version of the diet is that it removes processed food (which is good) but allows protein powder (with all the junk they add to it). Can't see any cave men mixing up a protein shake in their blender bottle, but still making sure to not eat bread... can anyone explain this to me?



The first thing to nail down is you're not a paleolithic guy, you're neolithic with primal tendencies ;-)

Do you wear clothing washed in detergent? Use antibiotics when sick? etc, you get the drift of that, I know, what you're doing in your day to day life has nothing to do with whether or not a caveman did it. The fact that your asking this question HERE is enough to make the caveman thing a moot point.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but what you're looking to do is maximize your health and performance by eating as little sh*t as possible, yes? There are LOTS of Primal/Paleo-compliant/'better' protein choices out there than the crap most resort to from a big chain supplement stores, the cheapest and easiest to wrap a paleo stick on is either egg whites or freeze dried animal protein, there are 100% whey products without filler or additives as well as grassfed protein products if you really want to go wild, if you'll pardon the pun. Fact of the matter is I like to chew my food, but if your quest is to WIN then you start to take what seems like minutia more seriously, for example:

Test, and no Google cheating: Who's the fastest man in world in the 100m? You probably got that one right. Who's the 4th fastest? No feckin' idea, right? If you got that right, slap me, if not ponder what percentage of total output is different from 1st place to 4th place in the 100m. Now what if maximizing your nutrition in every way possible was a 1% difference in performance? 3%?

The fact is that if a 1% differnce in output means the difference between looking down off the podium or looking up at it, is it worth avoiding that potential because it's not strict enough?

Ok, the short of it is this: you could blend up a chicken breast, too, or find an acceptable protein source for this one purpose of taking your PWO nutrition up a notch, but I'm a realist. If being better at life and getting good gains is enough, maybe energies are best spent elsewhere. If WINNING is the prime focus? Do your MOST to get there. Then again, I'm a bad example, I'd eat crushed glass if it would make me a better athlete. ;-)


wrote …

Thanks for adding the video link to the preview section!


Rob Barrese wrote …

David great article, thank you much! A few quick questions if you don't mind:
1. how would you recommend using the choice ingredients to blend as a shake? Separately I love each ingredient but in the wrong mix it could be less than delicious.
2. I hear a lot of people talk about Almond milk, what are your thoughts on Coconut milk?
3. If using a supplement protein source PWO you would recommend something with a higher simple carb and lower fat profile? I use elite athlete fuel by Simply Pure Nutrients... would this be an acceptable substitute?


wrote …

Aja, thank you. "Oddly awesome" is quite possibly the best critique I've ever had. Made my day.

And Chef, as usual, you raise the bar. I'm so grateful for your contribution.




There are couple of pre-blended protein sources out there that I like, even one made by some good friends, but I make it a policy not to recommend any commercial product as it then makes my nutritional advise suspect. I don't make or sell product, I don't even sell protein at our box. As soon as you shuck a particular product or your own product you smell like snake oil, hard to avoid that trap unless you avoid it completely.

That said, find a solid, single ingredient protein source, or as close to it as you can find. Alternatively, really drill down on the ingredient list of whatever product you choose: does it make SENSE? If it doesn't, move on.

I don't do almond milk as I try to limit how many nut-fats I have in my daily diet, and I LOVE to crunch on nuts (that just sounds bad) and would rather chew them then drink them. Coconut milk? Good stuff, use it all the time, once in a while I'll make and MRP styled shake as a treat, but like I said, I love to eat and prefer to chew my food.

Post workout? HIGH GI CARBS! The higher the better and simple starches are best. Sweet potato is near perfect for this, fruit less so....

I'm not familiar with the protein source you mentioned, but if you can email me the product info I'd be glad to check it out. chef at cfrubicon dot com is the best email to use


Rob Barrese wrote …

David thank you so much for the feedback! I always have sweet potato's PWO and I almost always mash them with cinnamon. I was going through your ingredient list and I was under the impression you meant to make a PWO shake from those ingredients!
I particularly enjoyed the comments on PWO fat. It makes sense! Thanks again


David Chef Wallach wrote …


my bad missing the question: I certain do mean for you to make a post workout shake with those ingredients. I use sweet pot, coconut water, coffee cubes, cinnamon and a pinch of dried orange rind along with my protein of choice (that varies for me as I experiment a lot)


wrote …

Good stuff, Chef..

New Blendtec blender arriving today, so this article was perfect timing. Can't wait to try it out.



wrote …


Thanks for your contribution to the article. Just to be clear, are you talking ratios of blocks or ratios of grams?

Thanks again!




Blocks and grams are both easy to manage, but my ratios refer to grams or percentage of total calories (which functionally equate to the same thing as CHO and PRO are both 4cal/gram., or equally dense, much like my head and your average rock if you follow my wife's astute and amazingly accurate observational skills.

Classically, zone blocks of protein include some fat, for us in the instance of PWO, we really are shooting for no fat for immediately post exercise and then a real meal (FAT/CHO/PRO) about an hour or so after that.


wrote …

Is making this shake as well as preparing 3 eggs with a strip of turkey bacon and asparagus and peppers overkill for post-workout?


I'm trying to concentrate on your post but all i keep hearing in my head is 'turkey bacon, turkey bacon'.

Unless you do not eat pork as religious requirement, WHY are you eating turkey bacon?!?

Ok, not that I got that outta my system. No sir! Not overkill at all, eat like it's a sport, sir!

One potential caveat to that reply is the obvious question: what is the goal of your post workout meal? Is it just a meal you eat post workout? then the food you describe sounds delish! If your goal is to take advantage of the hormonal milieu that occurs post workout to drive your recovery and growth to new levels, then browse the replies above as they pertain to fats in your post workout nutrition solution.


wrote …

Lets just make one thing clear - Whey is crap - cos it comes from milk which is crap !!
The milk industry is simply a highly effective method of turning fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals into corporate profit.

Create a gold rush (mass marketing to promote unsubstantiated health claims of milk) and then sell the the picks and shovels (all the chemical nasties listed above).

Breast milk is alkalizing to the body.
Cows/goats milk is acidizing to the body, as is caffeine and high sugar fruits.

Humans are the only species that continue to drink milk beyond initial development.

If you want to consume protein then take pea, rice or hemp protein.

Sweet potato is classed as medium GI and can be eaten in moderation but try to avoid high GI/high sugar food which is highly acidizing to the body.

Almonds are great for milk making but should be soaked overnight to activate the enzymes and any with the brown skin damaged and the insides exposed should be discarded due to high possibility of going rancid due to being exposed to fungal spores in the air.
For the same reason any nuts, seeds, coconut, etc should be eaten from whole ie avoid hulled seeds, dessicated coconut, etc, also cashews and peanuts.

If you dont want to bother peeling and cooking sweet potato then use 'green' (not yellow) banana instead.
Flax, chia, pumpkin and sunflower seed blended and used immediately are a great addition.
Ideally soak sunflower and pumpkin overnight - remove any that still float as this means they are decaying form the inside out.
You could also sprout them to skyrocket the nutrients and get some highly beneficial living foods into your system.

Leave a comment

Comments (You may use HTML tags for style)