Coffee Is Out. Beet Mochas, Golden Milk Smoothies, and Cherry Mint Brews Are In.
Ready to turn up the heat? Defrost with these unconventional warm drink recipes to boost performance before, during, and after your winter workouts.
Whether you like it or loathe it, winter is here. This means your appetite for icy recovery smoothies and cold brew coffee may have waned. And who wants to take a swig of a cold sports drink when working out in the great outdoors among the flurries? But it’s important to keep drinking your fluids to maintain hydration, especially if your indoor training sessions leave you standing in a pile of salty sweat. And, yes, outdoor workouts in the cold also require adequate hydration practices.
Hot beverages can be an effective and fun way to stay hydrated and improve recovery while simultaneously keeping you feeling all cozy inside. They can also be an unexpected way to add performance-boosting nutrition to your diet. But as comforting as a steaming mug of hot chocolate can be, other warm drinks will do a better job than Swiss Miss at keeping you performing like a champ all winter long.
Ready to turn up the heat? Defrost with these drinks for all of your exercise needs. Now that is a warm welcome on even the chilliest of days.
RELATED: Training Outside in the Winter? Be Sure to Fuel CorrectlySection divider
Pre-Workout Beet Mocha
Here’s proof that seemingly opposites attract – coffee and beets. This brew has two ways to perk up your workout – the caffeine from coffee and the nitrates from beets, which are converted to nitric oxide in the body. This compound encourages blood vessels to relax and widen (dilate), which increases blood flow and therefore oxygen delivery throughout the body including to your working muscles. Dates provide natural sweetness and the cinnamon and vanilla make sure this drink tastes as good as it looks. If using larger and sweeter Meedjol dates then just using a single fruit should suffice.
RELATED: Drinking Beet Juice Before a Race is Gross. It’s Also Awesome.
Makes 1 Serving
- 1 cup hot brewed coffee
- 3 pitted dates
- 1/2 cup chopped cooked peeled beet
- 1 Tbsp. cacao powder
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1. Place coffee and dates in a blender container, cover and let sit for a couple of minutes to soften the dates.
2. Add beet, cocoa, vanilla, cinnamon and a small pinch of salt. Blend until very smooth. Stir in a splash of cream or milk if desired.Section divider
Warm Ciderade Workout Drink
When you are going beyond the hour mark for your winter workout, reach for this warm DIY sports drink recipe to help you keep up the pace and take an edge off the cold. This drink will appeal to cider lovers and people who are looking for an au naturel approach to fuelling any big effort. This unconventional sports drink is designed to provide a concentration of carbohydrates (about 5 percent) that encourages better intestinal absorption to give your working muscles the energy they need without the risk of stomach woes. A little ginger provides a warming flavor pop. This drink can also serve you well for rehydration and carb replenishment post-training.
This recipe makes enough to fill a 21-ounce bottle, so scale up to fill two bottles. Pro tip: If adding the drink to an insulated bottle for warm beverages, don’t make the drink too hot, as there is a risk of scalding your tongue and throat if you take an enthusiastic big swig.
Makes 1 Serving
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1/4 tsp. ginger powder
- 1/8 tsp. salt
1. Place all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until warm to the touch. Transfer to an insulated water bottle. Just before drinking, give the bottle a good shake as the ginger and salt may settle out.Section divider
Post-Workout Warm Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
Following a winter workout, you may not have an appetite to mosey into the kitchen and whiz up a frosty drink. Enter the warm smoothie. This one tastes like dessert, but has all the quality carbs and protein you need to recover like a champ. Plus pumpkin puree is laced with health-hiking carotenoid antioxidants. For a warmer smoothie, heat the pumpkin puree in the microwave until warmed through and then add it to the blender. If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, you can flavor the shake with 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder and 1/8 tsp nutmeg. If made ahead of time (say, before Masters swim), the smoothie will likely thicken, so you may need to thin it with additional hot water.
RELATED: Ask Stacy: How Important Is Post-Workout Protein?
Makes 1 Serving
- 1 cup boiled water
- 2 Tbsp. buttermilk powder or milk powder
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 scoop plain or vanilla protein powder of choice
- 1 Tbsp. peanut butter or almond butter
- 2 tsp. maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla (can omit if using vanilla protein)
- 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- 1 small banana
1. Place boiled water and milk powder in a blender container and blend together. Add pumpkin puree, protein powder, nut butter, maple syrup, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice and banana; blend until smooth. Drink straight away or transfer to an insulated drink container.Section divider
Post-Workout Warm Golden Milk Smoothie
All the cool kids are into golden milk, traditionally a blend of hot milk and turmeric. This creamy and perfectly spiced smoothie version ups the ante. The antioxidant compound curcumin in turmeric may help athletes better adjust to the vigors of training by lowering inflammation and oxidative stress while also reducing muscle pain. Greek yogurt and hemp seeds deliver the quality protein needed to spur on muscle repair and growth after a training session. If you want to get all fancy you can grate some fresh nutmeg on top. You can bolster protein numbers by also blending in some protein powder. Make the drink ahead of time by placing the prepared smoothie in an insulated drink container.
RELATED: Are The Best Superfood Powders Worth It?
Makes 1 Serving
- 1 cup milk of choice
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. cardamom
- 3/4 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp. hemp seeds
- 2 tsp. chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tsp. honey
- 1 medium banana
1. Place milk, turmeric, cinnamon and cardamom in a small saucepan and bring to a light simmer.
2. Place hot spiced milk in a blender along with yogurt, hemp seeds, ginger, honey and banana and blend until smooth.Section divider
Before Bed: Orange-Scented Cherry Mint Brew
Talk about the end-of-day toasty drink of your dreams. Some research suggests that sipping tart cherry juice can enhance sleep quality, especially in those with sleep problems like insomnia. And we know now that adequate sleep is a key player in the recovery process from training. This drink is punched up with plenty of flavor boosters, which you can adjust based on preferences. For instance, lemon zest can replace orange zest and cinnamon can be swapped in for allspice.
RELATED: Why Do I Have Trouble Sleeping After a Hard Workout?
Makes 1 Serving
- 1 cup tart cherry juice
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1 tsp. honey
- 1 tsp. orange zest
- 1/4 tsp. allspice
1. Place cherry juice, mint, honey, orange zest and allspice in a small saucepan. Bring to a light simmer. Remove pan from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes. Strain into a mug.Section divider
These products will help make your healthy hot drinks work harder for you.
This ingenious water bottle has lightweight double-walled vacuum insulation that will keep your warm sports drinks toasty well into your workout. A no-squeeze gravity flow system allows you to effortlessly get big gulps of your drink.
Nutribullet Smart Touch Blender
With 1500 watts of power, this robust blender will make quick work of any of your warm smoothie ingredients and give you ultra-smooth results. Hot ingredients are no problem for this machine. And it lets you prepare big batches or single servings. A powerful blender without the lofty price tag.
Sourced from milk hailing from grass-fed cows, this power powder has enough protein to make your smoothies bonafide muscle builders. It has great texture, probiotics for digestive health and is NSF for Sport Certified so you’re not getting anything that can land you in hot water.
Four Sigmatic Plant Based Protein Unflavored
Not into animal proteins? This powder from a blend of plants including pea and hemp delivers the range of amino acids you need to recover like a champ from any toasty smoothie along with a line-up of immune-boosting mushrooms. And being unflavored lets the other flavors of your drink shine through.
This durable stainless steel drink flask is big enough to hold a solid amount of fluid and will keep your hot drinks hot for several hours. A great option for make-ahead warm smoothies. And you can choose from a range of cheery colors.
Delivers deep chocolate flavor and a payload of antioxidants to your hot smoothies and other warm drinks. And, yes, you can use it to make your own hot cocoa mix.
A ready-to-go golden milk powder that includes a bonus mushroom blend. The cinnamon and ginger assure that it doesn’t taste like loamy soil.
These add a nice nutty flavor to any warm smoothies along with plant-based protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Plus, none of the grittiness you get with blending in nuts.
Bob’s Red Mill Sweet Cream Buttermilk Powder
Just add boiled water to this milk powder and you’ll end up with a richer-tasting hot drink and one with extra protein, calcium and vitamin D.
Matthew Kadey, M.S., R.D., is an author, journalist, and James Beard Award winner who specializes in sports nutrition.