Smoothies: Simple, Delicious ... but Take Care!
Smoothies are incredibly popular and frequently marketed as a health food.
These versatile beverages are portable, family-friendly and modifiable for any taste or dietary preference.
Smoothies are also easy to prepare yourself, but you can purchase fresh or bottled ones from speciality cafés and most major grocery stores.
While some types are loaded with veggies and fruit, others are packed with sugar or other unhealthy ingredients.
Therefore, you may wonder … “are they really a healthy choice“?
And also … “will drinking smoothies help me lose weight“?
What are Smoothies?
Smoothies … simple, delicious and wonderfully healthy & nutritious.
We all love em!
Most smoothies can be classified into one or two of the following categories — though there’s significant overlap
As the name implies, this kind of smoothie usually features one or more types of fruit blended with fruit juice, water, milk, or ice cream.
Green smoothies pack leafy green vegetables and fruit blended with water, juice, or milk. They tend to be heavier in veggies than regular smoothies, though they often include a little fruit for sweetness.
Protein smoothies usually start with one fruit or vegetable and a liquid, as well as a major protein source like Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, silken tofu, or protein powder.
Because smoothies are so customizable, it’s fairly easy to pack them with nutrients.
But if you’re trying to lose weight … be careful!
Problems With Smoothies When Your Trying to Lose Weight.
There are some very important reasons why weight watchers need to exercise a lot of caution when it comes to smoothies.
Later, we’ll discuss in more detail some of the key ways that smoothies can be used as a powerful weapon in your weight loss arsenal.
But you need to be aware, there are some significant problems with smoothies when it comes to weight loss.
Problem 1: Satiety
So OK … you’ve packed your blender with all sorts of whole food goodies like strawberries, blueberries, mango, kale, and mint.
What could possibly be wrong with such a delicious, nutrient dense collection of high quality healthy food?
Nothing … until you turn on the blender and that’s when the problems start.
For losing weight, there’s a big problem with smoothies – all smoothies.
They are all liquids.
And liquids generally cause problems with “satiety”.
What is satiety?
Satiety is simply eating to the point of feeling satisfied or in a nutshell – feeling full!
Consistently, researchers have found that calories in liquid form have less satiety than calories in solid form.
Satiety is also a measure of how long you stay full after eating.
Foods that provide the highest satiety for the fewest calories will help you lose weight and keep it off because they do not force you to live with constant hunger.
The satiety level of smoothies is very low, meaning you don’t compensate for the calories you drink by eating less food. For example, if you drink a smoothie (let’s say it’s 150 calories) before or with a meal, you’re unlikely to compensate by eating 150 fewer calories of food at that meal or at your next meal.
The bottom line is that if weight loss is primary your goal steer clear of any beverage high in calories, including soft drinks, sugary teas, some smoothies and fruit juices … and especially speciality coffees full of glop (whipped cream, syrup and other sugary ingredients).
Liquid calories, no matter what their source, will simply not curb your appetite as well as
solid foods do.
Problem 2: Ready Made Smoothies
Everywhere you go, from supermarkets to fast food restaurants to coffee shops, ready-to-drink smoothie choices abound.
Do put on your label-reading glasses, however.
Many commercially-produced smoothies, though promoted as super nutritious, are anything but.
Commercially produced, processed smoothies will likely do more damage than good to your waistline and health.
For example, the advertising and marketing of ready-made smoothies can be very deceptive.
To illustrate, striving to cash in on Americans’ efforts to get more servings of fruit and vegetables into their diet, many food manufacturers have trumpeted that a really simple way to consume multiple fruit-and-veggie servings is to drink a smoothie.
One, for example, advertises that its 15-ounce bottle has 3 – 4 servings of fruit. Technically, that’s correct.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that a half cup (4-ounce) serving of fruit juice counts as one serving of fruit.
But what they doesn’t tell you is that the USDA also recommends that most of the fruit Americans eat should be whole fruit, not fruit juice.
Another problem is how calories are presented on bottles of commercial smoothies.
Many 15 or 16 ounce smoothies list calories at about 80 or 90 calories, and people often think, “Well, that’s not too bad”.
But those 80 or 90 calories are generally for a one 8-ounce serving.
Drink the entire bottle (which most of us do), and we’ve downed about 160 calories.
That’s more calories than you’d get from a can of coke!
Problem 3: Commercially Produced Smoothies are Often Full of Sugar
Some bottles of smoothies boast on the front label that they have “no added sugar.”
While that may be true, do turn the bottle around.
Check out the “Nutrition Facts” label and “Ingredient List”.
One 15-ounce bottle has a whopping 320 calories – yes, that’s about 50 calories per sip.
Plus, the naturally occurring sugar from some brands isn’t coming from a whole lot of whole fruit.
It’s mainly from apple juice concentrate, which are highly refined and processed and hardly different from sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
Commercially prepared smoothies tend to be higher in added sugar than homemade versions, but it ultimately depends on the ingredients used in each recipe.
For instance, Smoothie King’s 20-ounce (590-mL) “Hulk Vanilla Smoothie” packs 47 grams of added sugar, which is well above your daily sugar recommendation.
Their Original “High Protein Pineapple Smoothie” is a much better option, as it provides only 4 grams of added sugar in the same serving size.
Many sugary ingredients are easy to identify, such as granulated sugar, honey, maple syrup, ice cream, sherbet, and agave nectar.
Nonetheless, you should keep in mind that nut butters, protein powder, flavoured yogurt, fruit flavoured sauces, and sugar-sweetened juices and non-dairy milks are all potential sources of added sugar.
Occasionally indulging in small quantities of added sugar is not likely harmful, but if you drink smoothies frequently, it may be best to limit sugary ingredients as much as possible.
When making smoothies at home, use whole fruits, such as a ripe banana, to add sweetness instead of honey or maple syrup.
When buying premade smoothies, try to limit or avoid added sugar.
For bottled smoothies, you can find the added sugar content on the label.
For made-to-order ones, check the company website or ask for nutrient information at the counter.
Problem 4: Commercial Smoothies Lack Fibre
A large proportion of the fibre in commercial smoothies is from refined fibres like dextrin and inulin, not fruit puree.
That’s a cause for concern because processed fibres do not have the same benefits as naturally fibre rich fruits,
vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
Products like smoothies, packed with refined sugars and refined fibres, may raise fasting triglyceride levels,
promote weight gain, and increase insulin resistance.
They will no doubt also raise blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
The Bottom Line: Are Smoothies a Healthy Way to Lose Weight?
Some smoothies, especially the ones you make at home from whole fruits and vegetables, are high in vitamins, minerals, and many other beneficial nutrients.
Many people consume smoothies as a morning meal or afternoon snack.
They can be a great way to incorporate more healthy foods into your diet.
Smoothies made primarily from fresh or frozen produce increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables, which provide a diverse array of benefits including essential vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants.
Together, these nutrients may reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and lower your risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity, and age-related mental decline.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults eat at least 5 servings (around 400 grams) of fruits and vegetables per day.
However, most people fall well short of this mark.
If you find you’re not eating enough fruits or veggies, a smoothie can be a delicious way to pack in 2–3 more servings.
But for losing weight, smoothies tend not to be a great choice because they’re liquids (see above) and your best choice for losing weight the healthy way is by eating whole vegetables and whole fruit.
There is however one very big exception to this last point.
Research has found that meal replacements in liquid form, such as smoothies and other protein-fruit-vegetable shakes, are extremely beneficial for weight loss.
Please watch this short video presentation featuring Certified Health Coach, Drew Sgoutas (CHC, AADP).
I think you will find the information he presents on the subject of “Smoothies for Weight Loss” very interesting and informative;
I hope you found this article useful and that it helped you understand the benefits … but also the dangers of overindulging in certain types of smoothies … esp if you’re trying to lose weight.
I really appreciate you getting this far and reading the whole article.