Homemade smoothies are much healthier because most of the premade ones you buy are loaded with sugar, going against the reasons why you added smoothies for weight-loss to your healthy eating plan in the first place.
But even the smoothies you make at home can sabotage your weight loss efforts if you are not careful.
Here are 4 reasons why your protein smoothies may not be carrying their weight in your weight-loss efforts.
1. Skimping on the fiber
If you are not using enough fiber-rich ingredients in your smoothies, you run the risk of feeling hungry sooner than you would otherwise. Fiber keeps you feeling fuller longer because it slows down digestion.
Not only does this prevent a blood-sugar spike (and the resulting crash which heads you straight for something to eat), but the fiber is indigestible meaning it doesn’t add calories to your diet.
By including nuts, berries, seeds, fruit, and dark green vegetables in your smoothies, you can be sure you are getting enough fiber. Even the type of dark green veggies can make a difference. For example, kale has twice the fiber as spinach.
2. Not using enough protein
Having enough protein in your smoothies works toward weight loss in a couple of different ways.
The hormone leptin in protein keeps you feeling fuller longer by blocking the hunger signal to the brain. At the end of the day, blocking the hunger signal reduces the number of calories you would normally eat.
Also, the amino acid leucine found in protein helps prevent muscle loss thus forcing your body to burn fat instead of muscle.
An easy way to add protein to your smoothies is by adding a scoop of protein powder, greek yogurt, a plant-based milk, or peanut butter.
3. Using too much fruit
Fruit makes a smoothie taste good, adds fiber and nutrition, but some fruit is loaded with sugar.
And yes, the argument some use is that it is the natural sugar fructose and they are correct … but it is still sugar and still has 9 calories per gram.
Reduce the sugar content by replacing some of the fruit used in your smoothies with lower calorie vegetables, such as kale or spinach.
Add in some nuts and seeds for some healthy fat without boosting the sugar content.
4. Adding a sweetener
If you are using fruit in your smoothies, don’t use an added sweetener.
Even the natural ones like honey or maple syrup will add 60 calories per tablespoon – calories (and sweetener) that you don’t need.
Related: 9 Easy Tips To Help You Lose Weight Faster
How to Reduce the Sugar Content of Your Smoothies
Here are some tips on how to reduce the sugar content, thus making your smoothies healthier.
• First, you may want to use a base with a lower sugar content.
If you are currently using bananas, try switching to using an avocado instead. Instead of adding in 9 grams of sugar, you’ll be adding in only one. Besides, the healthy fat in avocados is more satisfying and will help keep you fuller longer.
If you need more sweetness, add in no more than half a banana.
• Add in more fresh vegetables.
By adding in green vegetables like kale, spinach or collard greens, not only do you significantly cut down on the sugar content, but also add in antioxidants, fiber and a host of good nutrients.
• Use less fruit, like mangos, bananas and pineapple and instead replace with less-sweet fruit like raspberries.
Raspberries are one of the lowest fruits as far as sugar content – 3 grams of sugar per half cup instead of seven in peaches for example.
• When it comes to adding liquid, use something that is unsweetened.
If you don’t like dairy milk, use one of the unsweetened plant-based milks, like almond or coconut milk. Of better yet, use green tea or just plain water as your liquid and cut out more sugar yet.
• Try to stay away from yogurt or honey and instead use non-sweetened protein, carob or maca powder, along with either nuts or seeds.
If you use one of the nut butters, choose cashew over peanut and save two grams of sugar.
Related: 11 Workouts To Help You Burn Fat
5 Superfoods To Add To Your Smoothies
Blueberries taste great, they are full of healthy fiber, they add a wonderful blue/purple hue to your smoothies, and they decrease your risk of contracting heart disease. Eating blueberries regularly can lower unhealthy cholesterol levels and has been directly related to lower rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and early death, while promoting healthy, young looking hair and skin.
These yummy little berries deliver phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, manganese and vitamin K, all of which contribute to healthy bones. Additionally, zinc and iron are two minerals many people have insufficient levels of in their bodies, which are important for keeping your joints healthy.
Because of the above-mentioned minerals, a regular consumption of blueberries decreases blood pressure naturally, helps diabetes sufferers manage their condition, prevents the development of cancer, improves mental health, and promotes healthy digestion.
2. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds get healthy levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids into your body. As you probably know, omega-3 is are present in very high levels in fish. Not everyone likes to eat fish. This is great to ensure you are getting omega-3 into your body if you don’t want to eat fish 3 to 4 times a week.
Chia seeds are also chock full of calcium and dietary fiber. This means they promote bone health and a strong digestive process that promotes a healthy body weight maintenance.
A tablespoon or two in your smoothie and a little extra time blending can deliver a lot of health benefits.
By the way, Chia seeds are almost totally tasteless in a smoothie, so you don’t affect the flavor of your favorite recipe.
Get your chia seeds on Amazon here
Along with blueberries, avocados have long been considered a superfood.
If you are looking to thicken up a smoothie, a healthy avocado is perfect for the job.
You get more than 20 essential vitamins and minerals, healthy fats and protein, and healthier, younger-looking skin.
Avocado is also good at making you feel full longer, which means you may eat fewer calories throughout the day, leading to weight loss.
Related: The #1 Reason You Aren’t Losing Weight With Your Diet
Spirulina is a microalgae that grows naturally in fresh, warm water lakes. Actually, it’s blue-green color is what gives some freshwater a greenish tent. It can be purchased in a powder form that works great in smoothies.
You get protein, amino acids and antioxidants your body craves, you promote the detoxing of dangerous toxins and poisons from your body, and you also benefit from an excellent source of iron.
Spirulina is between 55 and 70% protein, a higher level than chicken, beef, or soybeans.
Add 18 essential and nonessential amino acids and more than a dozen other minerals, vitamins and nutrients, and you see why you should probably start adding spirulina to your next smoothie today.
Get your spirulina powder on Amazon here
5. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is so unbelievably healthy that it definitely qualifies as a superfood.
Adding just 2 tablespoons of coconut oil to your daily diet means stronger, healthier, younger-looking skin, hair, and nails.
When you cook with coconut oil, you enjoy the highest flash point of any healthy oil. This means that unhealthy oxidation does not occur, which is what happens when commonly using other oils to fry, sauté and bake.
You can rub coconut oil into your hair for a shiny glow, apply to your skin for multiple health benefits, and coconut oil helps you lose weight by aiding your body in the way it metabolizes fat.
You can also plop some into your next smoothie.
If you are making a 16 to 32-ounce smoothie, a tablespoon or two of coconut oil will go unnoticed. It will not affect the taste of your smoothie, and studies show coconut oil supports healthy mental functions.
You also experience an increase in natural energy, while this wonderful oil goes to work killing harmful bacteria, fungi, and viruses in your body.
You might like: My favorite premade superfood shake that tastes like Birthday Cake!
Beginner’s Weight Loss Smoothie
By limiting the amount of calories while still consuming dietary fiber and liquid, you feel full after drinking a smoothie.
This means you eat fewer calories throughout the day, and with fresh fruits and vegetables in your body, it should reduce your cravings for unhealthy processed foods and snacks.
The fat in this smoothie is “good” fat, essential fatty acids that lead to optimal health.
The natural sugars in this recipe are not like refined sugar and they won’t cause your body to store fat because they are accompanied with fiber and nutrients, proteins and vitamins, and add healthy flavor.
Beginner’s Weight Loss Smoothie
- 8 ounces filtered water
- 1/2 medium avocado
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1 tablespoon Chia seeds
- 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 tablespoon honey (optionally use stevia or maple syrup or 1/2 banana to sweeten)
331 cal, 4 g protein, 31 g carbs, 11 g fiber, 24 g fat
Beginner Smoothie Tips
- Don’t spend a lot of money on a blender at first. Any blender will get you started.
- Buy produce in-season for the best prices and the most nutrition.
- Get to know your grocer or produce provider. You will get better access to information like sales, as well as exactly when each new shipment of produce arrives.
- If you think your smoothie needs to be sweeter try adding stevia instead of fruit. (this is the brand I get on Amazon)
- Add protein powder for extra protein but only if it is organic and grass-fed whey (this is my favorite brand)
- If money is tight, only buy organic foods listed in the Dirty Dozen. The Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 are published annually, revealing the dirtiest and cleanest produce. You can find this year’s lists at EWG.org
Have fun! Experiment. Getting healthy is your goal, but why not enjoy the process and create new, tasty, one-of-a-kind recipes along the way?
To learn more about how to use protein shakes, smoothies and bars for weight loss keep reading here