It’s summer, and who doesn’t love a cool, delicious smoothie on a hot day? Ok, actually smoothies are good pretty much any day.
Unfortunately, that smoothie that you drank instead of lunch, or perhaps WITH lunch, may be doing more harm to your weight loss efforts than good. Sure they are delicious, but that’s usually due to the huge amounts of sugar in most smoothies.
You might say, “But it’s just fruit. It’s healthy!”, but consider the amount of natural sugar in smoothies. Blending together 1/2 a pineapple, a cup of strawberries and a banana is healthy and full of vitamins and nutrients of course, but if you’re looking to lose weight, (or get lean, the amount of sugar in your smoothie (natural or added) can do serious damage to your progress.
Not only that, the high amounts of sugar in many smoothies also have the effect of spiking your insulin levels. This can lead to a slump once those levels come back down. It can also cause you to feel hungry again once those empty calories start to fade away.
Consider the macros in some of the most popular smoothies on the market, both grab-n-go and fresh blended:
*Serving size for each of these is 8 oz., but for both smoothies, the typical bottle has two servings. So go ahead and double this!
Notice that you will save some calories by using Splenda. However, you’re still going to have a bunch of carbs in there, and don’t be mislead into thinking that adding “fat burner” to your smoothie will cancel out other empty calories therein.
“What if I make mine at home?”
Making your own smoothie is certainly a more natural option, allowing you control of exactly how much of everything goes into your smoothie. Just remember that although your smoothie may be all fruits (“healthy”), it can still contain high amounts of sugar, which you want to avoid if you are looking to lose weight/fat. Other things you may not have considered are the calories that are added when you add milk, yogurt and other ingredients.
“So, I can’t have smoothies at ALL?!”
Sure you can. Staying mindful of your ingredients can help you make a great smoothie that will give you the vitamins and energy you crave without derailing your diet.
Try adding veggies like spinach or kale to your smoothie for vitamins and volume without the extra calories. Also, try blending with water instead of milk and using a fat free greek yogurt to add protein, which keeps you full longer.
Similar to smoothies are protein shakes, which can also be made in a blender for the same effect. I like to start with a whey or vegan protein powder, then add a small amount of fruit for added nutrients and flavors, keeping the fruit to 1/2 a cup or less. Then I blend with ice and water. Remember that fruits like strawberries and apples are generally lower in sugar, while pineapples and bananas are are higher in sugar.
A protein shake before bed also works for me to help stave off late-night cravings, keeping me full until I “break my fast” in the morning. It’s great post workout to recharge muscles too, which especially important for muscle development. Since I often lift weights in the evening, it helps to have a late night food option that won’t ruin my meal plan goals. Shakes over smoothies every time for me!
If you really love that Blimey Limey like I do, by all means, you may drink it. However, use it as an occasional treat or “cheat,” instead of a 4-times-per-week diet staple or “meal replacement.” You can still enjoy the things you love in moderation, as long as you know what you are eating!
Here’s a quick easy protein smoothie recipe that is big on protein and taste, without so much sugar and calories. I throw all of these ingredients in my Nutribullet:
Strawberry Ice Cream Protein Shake
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (for this shake I used Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydro Whey)
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/4 cup Almond Coconut Milk, Unsweetened Vanilla
1 cup of ice
1/4 cup of water **Optional. Use less if you want a thicker shake.
Blend and enjoy!
Macros: 190 calories, 30g protein, 12g carbs, 6 g sugar, 2g fat, 2g fiber
What’s your favorite smoothie, and how could you make it even healthier? Comment below!
-Header photo uses a modified version of Creative Commons “Fruit Smoothies in a Row” by Cary Bass-Deschenes, licensed under CC BY 2.0.
–Photo of fruit in blender cup uses a modified version of Creative Commons “Smoothie 3“ by Katrin Morenz, licensed under CC BY 2.0.
-Nutrition information is from each company’s website, respectively.