Smoothies are a fantastic way to get a variety of nutrients into your breakfast with very little time on your hands. A handful of this, a sprinkle of that and voilà! A healthy meal in minutes, right?
When made correctly, smoothies are delicious, nutritional powerhouses. But so often I see people blending a smoothie that misses the mark. Here are some simple smoothie situations to avoid, and tips to get your smoothie game on point!
1. You overload it with sugar.
No one likes to hear it, but sugar is sugar. I’m not saying cut it out completely, but get real about your sugar intake, especially in your smoothies. It's so easy to blend away six tablespoons of sugar disguised in a few creamy bananas or sweet caramel-like dates. While these also come with fiber and nutrients to balance that sugary hit, it's still a sugary hit.
Choose nutritious, low sugar options like berries, kiwi, stone fruit, lemon and avocado and use others with moderation. A cup of fresh fruit will do just fine.
2. You're forgetting to throw in some greens.
Making a berry smoothie? Throw in a handful of spinach! This is often healthier than many green smoothies that use bananas, pineapple and mango to make up the bulk of the drink with very little green content.
Berries are a low sugar option, and are complimented well by bitter plants like rocket/arugula, neutral flavors from lettuce and zucchini, or freshness from cucumber and mint. Don't skimp on greens for the sake of a pretty colored pink!
3. Your smoothies are loaded with juice.
This is particularly relevant to smoothies you buy. They're often full of juice, and it’s hardly ever the freshly squeezed kind. When ordering out or making your own, opt for low sugar options such as almond milk, coconut milk, coconut water or plain filtered water.
With all that whole fruit and flavor your packing in, there's no need to load it with additional, likely artificial, sugary liquid! If you want the apple flavor, ditch the juice concentrate and add ½ an apple into the mix.
4. You're getting all carbs, no protein.
So by now you get it: less fruit, more green, low sugar. But if you stop here, all you’ve made is a nutritious blend of carbohydrates! If this is your main meal you want to add a healthy dose of protein.
Protein is especially important at breakfast time to stabilize blood sugar. Consuming protein in a fruit smoothie buffers the release of sugar into the blood, ensuring satiety, sustained energy, efficient fat burning and craving control. Include a quality protein powder, 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt, hemp seeds, or a raw egg.
5. You're adding scoops of
sabotage protein powder.
Have you read the ingredients on the back of that “natural” protein powder? It doesn’t matter whether you prefer whey or plant-based protein, the list of ingredients shouldn’t take hours to decipher.
Choose a powder that has few ingredients and is made from natural, recognizable sources. Make sure there are no fillers, artificial sweeteners or hidden sugars. And of course, check that it is actually high in protein. A good amount is around 20 grams per serving.
6. You're getting all carbs and protein, but no fat.
Ahh, fat. Eating fat will not make you fat, as we were previously led to believe. Instead, good fats keep our cells nourished, contributing to the healthy function of our heart, brain, hormones, immune system, skin, hair and nails.
Blend a quarter avocado, a dollop of nut butter or a tablespoon of flaxseed oil into your smoothie, or top it with a sprinkle of nuts and seeds.
7. You guzzle and go.
The smoothie is the ultimate quick fix for the girl or guy on-the-go. However, just because it can be poured into a Mason jar does not give you permission to guzzle it down!
When we eat while distracted, the brain doesn’t always get the memo that you have in fact eaten. This can lead to overeating.
Even worse, you don’t want to add stress to the eating equation. When you are stressed, digestion isn’t a priority — say hello to bloating, increased hunger, sweet cravings, fat storage and digestive upset.
As with all meals, we need all eyes on deck! Sit down, calm down, sip slowly, mindfully and savor the taste.
Photo courtesy of the author