Every day there is new research emerging on the importance of our gut and resident microbes. From influencing the risk of diabetes to obesity, and anxiety to depression, we know that our tiny little microbes rule our world and we are just starting to understand how to keep them happy. Kefir is a fermented milk drink which contains a large number of beneficial bacteria; aiming for at least one fermented food a day is a good habit to get into and helps ensure a healthy colony of good bacteria is residing in our gut. Alongside the beneficial bacteria, this Blueberry Kefir Post-Workout Snack also has the perfect ratio of carbohydrates and proteins for a post-workout snack. By offering a quick refuel and a load of beneficial bacterial this post-workout snack really can be, and should, enjoyed at any time of the day.
“Kefir typically contains three times the amount of probiotic cultures than yogurt and uses 10 to 20 different types of probiotic bacteria and yeasts while most yogurts use only a few. Kefir offers around 40 billion probiotic organisms per half cup.”
Diet plays a huge role in making sure our beneficial bacteria are thriving, and the food that our good bacteria like to eat are prebiotics or foods high in fibre which includes chia. The chia seeds found in this post-workout snack are rich in dietary soluble fibers which are fermented by the good bacteria in the gut and transformed into SCFA – that’s short chain fatty acids – which support the health and healing of cells in the small and large intestine. On the flip side, food that the bad bacteria like are highly refined carbohydrates, simple sugars, artificial sweeteners and fatty foods.
Fermented foods include Kefir, Saurkraut, Kimchi, Apple Cider Vinegar, Miso, and Kefir (see my post 9 Common Fermented Foods You Probably Have At Home). By regularly introducing helpful bacteria into our get we can try and correct any dysbiosis that may occur by crowding out the bad bacteria. Although, our bacteria populations are not only influenced by the food we eat- stress, medications, and environmental factors can all contribute to a dysbiosis in the gut- that is a skewed ratio of good bacteria and bad bacteria.
We know that stress can negatively influence our gut bacteria, and we also know that exercise can help manage stress. After an intense exercise session, it is important to refuel your body properly. When you do weight training you create little micro-tears in your muscles and our body needs to repair these to build stronger muscles. To do this we need to ensure we refuel with a good amount of protein. Depending on your body weight an aim of 15-25g of protein within an hour of working out is generally recommended. Our bodies are also looking for some post-workout carbohydrates to replenish its muscle glycogen stores and to signal for insulin to allow amino acids (alongside glucose) to enter the muscle cells. Fruit is usually my go-to for a healthy, quicker acting carbohydrate.
So this Blueberry Kefir Post-Workout Snack really has the double advantage of being packed full of beneficial bacteria and offering the perfect post-workout refuelling combination of protein and carbohydrates. I think the natural sweetness from the lactose and the blueberries is enough, but real maple syrup or unpasteurized honey could also be added. This snack is nice and thick and can be eaten with a spoon but if you prefer a more runny texture just add some water, organic milk or milk alternative.
Blueberry Kefir Post-Workout Snack
- 1 cup organic kefir plain
- 1/4 cup chia seeds dry
- 1 cup frozen blueberries plus more for serving*
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract optional
- *if you prefer not to eat your blueberries while they are frozen option to use fresh berries, defrost them first, or mix them in at the same time as the chia and kefir.
- Combine the kefir and chia seeds in a bowl or mason jar and mix until well combined. Add vanilla if using.
- Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
- When ready to serve, mix in frozen berries until well incorporated.
- Serve with more berries on top if desired.
Rachel Dickens, The Conscious Dietitian, is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She graduated with her Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2010 from Griffith University. She strives to provide evidence-based nutrition information with a focus on plant-based nutrition, and share some of her favourite seasonal recipes and sustainable eating tips.