One of the most attractive things about drinking smoothies for weight loss is that there are about a billion and one ways to make them.
And one of the most dangerous things about drinking smoothies for weight loss is that there are about a billion and one ways to make them.
The problem lies with a few common blender blunders that can quickly take your healthy, low-cal nutritionally-balanced smoothie and turn it into a pulverized hot fudge sundae. Even the most all-natural looking, fruit-astic “diet” smoothie can inadvertently slide down this shaky slippery slope.
Smoothies are a fantastic way to make sure you’re eating healthy foods that you may otherwise not eat during your day, and they can be an incredibly delicious, convenient, easy-to-digest and enjoyable meal replacement. But don’t throw the weight loss handbook out just yet – healthy foods have calories in them too. It’s far too easy to get carried away with ingredients in a craze of blender bloodlust. Often, the unfortunate result is a super-sweet, super-sized calorie cocktail that’s proudly guzzled down with the false belief that all things liquefied will get you closer to weight loss.
Don’t fall into the trap — be sure to steer clear of these common smoothie-making mistakes that could be completely ruining your diet.
Smoothie making should be fun, delicious and something that gets your creative juices flowing. But every puréed masterpiece must begin with some basic smoothie science principles under your (gradually tightening) belt first. Having some simple smoothie-making rules to follow when using shakes for weight loss could make all the difference between a lusciously smooth and easy road to successful weight loss — or having all your weight loss goals completely pulverized before your very eyes.
Check out these 5 delicious recipes for sumptuous smoothies that will seriously perk up your weight loss diet.
Slimming Science 101: 10 Basic Principles for a Fool-Proof Weight Loss Smoothie
1. Remember what it’s all for: Maximum Nutrients for Minimum Calories
Let’s face facts – smoothies can quite simply be awesome. They have all the taste potential of an epically rich and creamy dessert. They can provide you with all the flavor variety you crave, at any time of the day. They can switch things up, they can keep things exciting. They can lead to multiple pour-gasms.
So it’s easy to forget why you’re drinking them in the first place – to help you lose weight and to get healthy. And in order to accomplish both of these things at the same time, you have to create a smoothie that is both low in calories and sugar while, simultaneously, high in nutrients that fuel fat-burning, optimal body functioning and long-term good health. That’s why the base ingredients of all of your smoothies should be foods with prime “nutrient density.” This means you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, foods that have a high ratio of nutrients in relation to their number of calories. That includes foods such as dark leafy greens, chia seeds, broccoli, avocado, berries, and many more natural foods that pack a whopping load of nutrients into just a small handful of calories.
However, that does not include highly processed foods. These foods have had their nutrients and fiber removed, leaving behind only empty calories (“empty” because you derive no nutritional benefits from consuming them). These include refined sugar, syrups, fruit juices and even artificial sweeteners, because even if some of these are low in calories, none of these calories do anything positive for your body and so they’ll likely be deposited as fat instead. Think of calories like cash – they are only worth something if you get something valuable in return.
So before you toss anything in to your smoothie blender, ask yourself: is this a high-quality nutritionally dense food? Does this food improve my heath, or hurt it? Does this food help me get closer to my weight loss goal, or does it set me back? You should enjoy the foods you eat, but thinking of foods as purely functional can help you make better choices about eating them. If a food isn’t helping your body, than assume that it’s hurting your body, and don’t waste calorie points by eating it.
Also, avoid store-bought smoothies, even popular brand ones labelled “healthy,” “diet,” or “light,” as these are almost always full of sugar, syrups and/or artificial sweeteners.
2. Choose your liquid base, and place that in the blender first.
Begin your smoothie by pouring in 1 to 2 cups of your liquid base. Pure, clean spring water is the most neutral, safe and no-calorie choice. However, other healthy liquids can be used to provide a bit more flavor, creaminess and more nutrients and protein to your smoothie. Good options are almond milk (search for ones without emulsifiers, or make your own nut milk at home), other varieties of nut or seed milks, coconut milk, coconut water, herbal tea, kefir or organic milk. Pour your liquid base into your blender first, as this will help it process your other ingredients more smoothly.
3. Use very ripe fruit, but limit the amount.
Most people’s ideal smoothie is a sweet one. And since nutrient density is key and refined sweeteners are a major weight loss no-no, what better way to sweeten the pot than to use natural whole fruits and veggies, which also boost your healthy smoothie with major doses of vitamins, minerals and powerful phytonutrients at the same time. As fruit matures, its natural sugars become more available and pronounced, so seek out fruits at the peak of their ripeness to punch up the sweetness of your smoothie with fewer caloric ingredients. And freezing the fruit first before you blend it up gives your smoothie a wonderfully frothy texture and satisfying chill.
At the same time, it’s critical that you remember that even natural sugars are still sugar. Most fruits are higher in calories than vegetables, so it’s important that you watch your daily portions of fruit when seeking to lose weight. Limit yourself to 1 to 1.5 cups of fruit per smoothie, and aim for low-glycemic fruits such as berries, stone fruits, grapefruit, apples, pears, citrus fruit, guava, pineapple, etc. Also, avoid adding fruit juice to your smoothie, as juice is a refined product that has had its fiber removed and is higher in sugar and calories.
4. Fill it up with plant-based fiber, starting with one handful of greens.
Fiber is every dieter’s BFF. Upping your daily intake of both soluble and insoluble fiber is one of the simplest and most effective ways to start dropping dress sizes. It’s also incredibly helpful in making you feel full and satisfied after you’ve finished your liquid meal. So leaving out the fiber in your weight loss smoothie is like leaving out the gas in your car. Adding high-fiber nutrient-dense foods to your smoothies is key to weight loss, especially when those high-fiber foods fill you up fast on less calories. These include foods like dark leafy greens, broccoli, celery, green sprouts, berries, beans, prunes, chia seeds, flax, hemp hearts, a tablespoon of plain cooked oats, and SLIMQUICK Pure’s fiber-fortified Protein powder.
If you’re new to the world of green smoothies, than begin by adding just one handful of raw dark leafy greens to every smoothie, such as spinach, kale, dandelion greens, beet greens, arugula, etc. Not to worry – these greens have a mild delicate flavor and you won’t taste them in your smoothie. For efficient blending, pour your liquid base into the blender first, and then put in your greens; blend until pulverized, and then continue blending as you add in your other ingredients one by one.
As you get more comfortable and experimental, become bolder and start adding more and more veggies to each smoothie. Veggies are ideal sources of very low-calorie plant fiber that seriously boosts weight loss and detox. Veggies are your secret weapon to making smoothies more energizing, more optimal as digestive and detox aides, more fat-burning, and the perfect fuel for your immune system, your general health and longevity. Find out which veggies are the best for torching body fat and losing weight, here.
5. Select a lean, clean protein source.
Every weight-loss smoothie should contain the right amount of high-quality protein. This is because protein is a thermogenic food that activates your metabolism while balancing your blood sugar and making you feel full on fewer calories. Protein also helps you grow and preserve muscle tissue, which burns more fat and calories than any other type of body tissue while pumping up your energy, increasing your strength and giving you a lean, toned physique.
Whether you are drinking a smoothie as a meal replacement or as a post-workout snack, protein is important to balance your blood sugar, control cravings, promote leanness and boost weight loss effects. Good sources of clean protein for your smoothie include SLIMQUICK Pure’s Protein Powder, cultured kefir, beans, Greek yogurt, raw nuts or nut butter, spirulina, cottage cheese, pumpkin seeds, etc. If you eat dairy foods, than limit your smoothie to no more than one dairy-based ingredient, to avoid bloating or digestive issues. Also, don’t combine dairy products with citrus fruits.
6. A fat-burning smoothie contains 1 to 2 TBSP of healthy essential fats.
The cut-out-all-fat-to-lose-fat weight loss myth went out with the 90s. Studies have now conclusively shown that moderate amounts of healthy fat are necessary to keep us healthy and to keep our weight controlled. Find out why you need fat to lose weight and get healthy here. If you attempt to concoct a smoothie with zero percent fat, than it’s likely to send your blood sugar for a roller coaster ride and to leave you ravenously hungry all over again in just a few minutes. Some fat is also necessary in order for your body to absorb other nutrients present in the fruits and veggies in your smoothie. And fat also helps to make your smoothie…well…smooth.
Add 1 to 2 TBSP of a high-quality fat source to each smoothie, such as avocado, coconut oil, coconut butter, raw nuts or nut butters, seeds like chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, psyllium husks, other raw seeds or seed butters, etc.
7. Punch up the flavor without adding calories.
Finding the right flavor balance between sweet fruit and other savory ingredients in your smoothie is the ideal way to create a delicious blend that promotes weight loss and good health. However, there may be times when a quick smoothie taste-test reveals that it just needs a little bit of extra “oomph” to bring up the excitement factor.
You can boost the flavor of a smoothie without adding any calories to it with some interesting herbs and spicy add-ins. Experiment with fresh vanilla bean, or try pure vanilla, almond, coconut or mint extracts. Cocoa powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom or cayenne add warmth and depth to a smoothie, while mint, basil, lavender, lemongrass, cilantro, parsley, lemon juice or lime juice add an energizing wake-me-up zing to your shakes.
If you’re going for a bold all-veggie smoothie but want to lighten it up with some sweetness, you can add a few pinches of stevia or erythritol, which are natural, plant-based, safe no-calorie sweeteners. Or you can opt to use a small amount of caloric sweetener that has proven health benefits, such as date paste, date sugar, blackstrap molasses, raw Manuka honey, 100% pure maple syrup, etc. However, these sweeteners definitely contain calories, so limit to no more than 2 teaspoons.
8. Touch it up with weight loss boosters.
Research has demonstrated that certain foods have the power to promote weight loss and activate fat-burning. Try boosting the weight loss powers of your smoothie with ingredients like green tea (don’t use this if you are already taking weight loss supplements that contain green tea), sugar-free dark chocolate, cinnamon, ginger, apple cider vinegar, beans, chili pepper, black pepper or kefir to smoothies.
9. Smoothies help you lose weight when they are THICK.
Hunger and weight loss simply do NOT get along. Feeling perpetual hunger means less will power and resistance along with more intense cravings for precisely the types of foods that make you gain weight. Eventually, constant hunger almost always wins and leads to weight loss failure.
The best weight loss diet is the kind that leaves you feeling good and satisfied all day long. And a 2011 study showed that thicker smoothies led people to feel far more full and satiated than thinner beverages did, even when both drinks contained the exact same number of calories. Participants that drank the thicker smoothie reported feeling twice as full as participants drinking the thinner smoothie.
This is why drinking thick smoothies can really help you lose weight by leading you to feel more full and satiated from consuming less calories. There are a variety of different ways to thicken your smoothies – the most obvious one being to add less liquid. Another approach is to add in healthy ingredients that create a thick, smooth texture while also bringing in valuable nutrients. If you haven’t already added these to your smoothie, than try blending in some of these powerful superfoods to thicken your shake while boosting its health value: 2 TBSP of soaked chia seeds, 2 TBSP of soaked flax seeds, 2 TBSP of soaked psyllium seed husks, 2 TBSP of soaked raw nuts or natural nut butters, 2 TBSP of avocado, cooked sweet potato or pumpkin (include this in your 2-cup fruit limit), frozen banana or other frozen fruits (include this in your 2-cup fruit limit), kefir, or 2 TBSP of soaked oats.
10. Mind the 2-smoothie daily limit.
Blending up a handful of healthy, low-calorie foods into a well-balanced snack or small meal replacement once or twice a day is a convenient and delicious way to help you stay energized, stick to a good eating plan and lose weight.
However, turning all of your meals into liquid lunches throughout the day can have the exact opposite effect. Your body doesn’t register liquid calories the same way it does solid ones, so sipping all of your food through a straw rather than chewing it can turn on your body’s “starvation” response, triggering hunger, cravings, and a slowing metabolism. Avoid weight loss programs that encourage a total liquid diet, and limit yourself to two healthy smoothies a day. Make the rest of your meals solid ones and drink plenty of clean spring water, lemon water or herbal tea in between.