Let's face it, those well curated Instagram feeds full of colorful smoothies look incredible don't they? They're packed full of nutrients, fruits and super-foods so they must be healthy right? What you may not realize, is that not all smoothies are created equal. In fact, many of them can actually be the cause of your weight gain.
As I scrolled Instagram feeds, and searched Pinterest for great smoothie recipes, I found myself extremely frustrated. Frustrated because all of the recipes were FULL of sugar, carbs and excess calories. The more I looked into the ingredients of these beautiful beverages and smoothie bowls, the more I realized how confusing this could be for many of you. I want to share some tips on how you can add smoothies into your life without derailing your nutritional goals and increasing your waistline.
1. Choose your fruit wisely. Yes fruit is filled with vital nutrients and fiber, but many fruits contain high levels of unrefined sugar, which can lead to insulin spikes. When we dump excess amounts of sugar into our bodies our pancreas goes into overdrive, increasing the output of insulin. If not processed or burned off, overtime, can lead to increased fat storage, obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes. I suggest choosing 1-2 fruits max, and avoiding added fruit juice. Adding a full banana, 1/2 a mango and 1/2 cup of blueberries, although looks, and probably tastes amazing, will likely equate to over 50 grams of carbohydrates!
2. Add FAT! I am here to tell you that fat won't make you fat, although we've been programmed to believe this. Adding fat into your smoothie will add a rich creamy texture, reduce cravings, and make you feel satisfied longer. The right kinds of fat will allow your body to release leptin. Leptin is the satiety hormone, essentially the flag to your body that you are full and satisfied, reducing the feeling of hunger and the desire to eat more. BUT not all fats are created equal. I suggest including unprocessed fats such as organic ghee butter, avocado oil, coconut oil or my favorite, avocado. If dairy is your friend, you could also add whole Greek yogurt.
3. Add Superfoods. As we move throughout our day, consistently fighting against the clock to complete everything on our to-do-list, we often neglect eating whole, nutrient dense foods. When making a smoothie, add in super-foods like Spirulina, Cacao, Maca, or Essential Greens. Superfoods pack a TON of amazing antioxidants and nutrients we generally don't get in our regular diets. Superfoods help to detoxify our bodies, fend off illnesses, and keep us energized throughout the day. My favorite is a cacao maca smoothie mix. It gives a chocolatey, smooth texture, plus it's full of healthy goodness.
4. Add Protein. As an avid weight lifter, I understand the importance of getting adequate protein in order to repair, build and maintain muscle mass. Proteins are also used in hormone production and deliver essential vitamins and minerals. I love adding a scoop of protein powder, or even some tofu, adding a rich, creamy texture to my shakes. When choosing a protein powder ensure you read the label carefully. You want to choose something on the lower carb and fat ratio, with at least 20-30 grams of protein per serving, avoiding over processed brands.
Chocolate Coconut Power Shake
1 Scoop Arbonne Chocolate Protein Powder
1 tbsp natural peanut butter or almond butter
2 tsp unsweetened coconut
2 tsp cacao & maca powder smoothie mix
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp quinoa flakes
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
5 ice cubes
Stevia to taste
Protein: 17.5g Carbohydrates: 29.3g Fat: 17.6g
Do not fear, smoothies can be a great source of protein, carbs and fat, but you must choose your ingredients wisely.