How to Build the Perfect Smoothie
Updated: Jun 16
Life can get pretty hectic, and having a meal option that can fit in nutrients, is quick to make, and keeps us on track of our weight goals sounds wonderful. It almost sounds like a health unicorn - too good to be true!
"Are smoothies a healthy option and will they help me lose weight?" This is a common question I get asked regularly.
The answer is Yes!
Let's break down some of the benefits of a smoothie.
Smoothies are quick and easy to make!
This is probably the #1 benefit to smoothies. Let's be honest, time is a hot commodity and there is never enough of it. Smoothies have saved me multiple times from skipping meals or opting for my kid's goldfish and chicken nuggets. Smoothies can be made in advance and are easy for on-the-go meals.
Smoothies are an easy way to pack in a nutrient dense meal
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, three-forth of the American population is not eating enough fruits, vegetables, dairy and oils. Most of us need to increase our fruit and vegetable intake. By not eating enough, we are missing out on vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber our bodies need to function well and stay healthy.
Smoothies help keep us feeling full
Thanks to being well-balanced with protein and dietary fiber, a smoothie can keep you feeling full and prevent extra snacking due to hunger.
Smoothies can help when it comes to staying on track with weight goals
Since a smoothie is a complete meal and can keep us feeling full, it is a beneficial when trying to maintain or lose weight. By making sure we do not skip meals and prevent over snacking, we can stay on track. It is important to make sure you stick with serving sizes and measure every item.
Some additional benefits to a smoothie are:
Can easily be made on a budget
Can help keep blood sugar stable
Can help strengthen the immune system
Kid friendly and a great way to sneak extra veggies into their diets
Now let's get to the part of building a perfect smoothie. As we start, it is important to understand that in order to keep a smoothie nutritious and healthy you need to create a balance of vegetables, fruits, protein and healthy fat. There is a method to the madness and you can't just dump anything in. Always! Always! Always measure out each item. Not measuring can quickly increase the calories. Here are the essentials for building a perfect smoothie:
The Base or the Fluid - 1 serving size
In order to make a smoothie we need some type of base. Some that I recommend are yogurt, soy milk, coconut milk, water, almond milk, Ripl, and milk. Those will vary depending on your own dietary guidelines (such as being Vegan or food allergies) and health goals (weight loss, weight maintenance, or weight gain) Read the nutrition fact label on each item to determine serving sizes.
Vegetables -1- 2 cups
Vegetables are a key ingredient to a smoothie. My personal favorite to use is spinach. While spinach is high in vitamins A, C, K, magnesium, and iron, the best part about spinach is that it does not have an overpowering taste. It takes on the taste of the other items in the smoothie. Other vegetable options are kale, chard, romaine lettuce, carrot tops, collard greens and celery. Pick one or maybe two options to put in your smoothie.
Fruit - 1/2 cup
This is one of the areas that can derail your healthy smoothie. Fruit is an important source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibers, but it can also pack in the sugar. When you are building a smoothie, stick to low-glycemic fruits. The Glycemic Index Foundation defines the Glycemic Index as "a relative ranking of carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Carbohydrates with a low GI value (55 or less) are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolized and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore usually, insulin levels." We want to avoid the blood sugar spike. Some of the best fruits to use are:
Cherries (frozen and fresh are great but check canned for added sugars)
Grapefruit (I have to add based on my own health, that if you are Hypothyroid please check what time frame you can have grapefruit without it interfering with medication. Many medications do not mix well with grapefruit so check with your doctor if you are on medications and are concerned)
Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries (Frozen is a great option)
Protein - 1 serving size
Protein is one of the building blocks our body needs to help build and repair cells. An added benefit of protein is that it can help keep us feeling full. Depending on what you used for your fluid, you may have already started to take care of including a protein source. Yogurt and coconut milk are good sources of protein. Adding peanut butter is another good option. The easiest way though, is to use a supplement powder. There are many great protein supplement options out there. The one I use is Vital Proteins Original Collagen Peptides (might as well multi-task and get gorgeous hair, nails and skin at the same time!)
Healthy Fats - 1 serving size
There is a lot of misinformation available that leads many to believe that fats are bad for you. That is not true! Our body needs healthy fats for energy, to support cell growth, to help absorb certain vitamins and minerals, and to produce certain hormones. However, we need to stick with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat which benefit our body. Here is an article by Healthline on food fats if you want more information.
Pick one healthy fat and make sure you know the exact serving size!
Below are some additional items you could add to a smoothie without increasing the caloric impact significantly.
Herbs (examples are cilantro, mint, parsley)
Spices (examples are cinnamon, ginger and turmeric)
Now that you know how to build the perfect smoothie, use your imagination and your favorite foods to create the best smoothie for you. Please feel free to share with us you're creations.
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