As a tool for healthy and sustainable weight loss, smoothies are a great go-to. If you’re already a seasoned smoothie pro, you’ll know what can and can’t go into them to make them low calorie, healthy and sustaining. Even if you’re not and are new to blending there’s no better time to learn about smoothies for weight loss.
Knowing the right combination of ingredients to make, you can create perfectly blended smoothies that taste out of this world, with the added benefit of dropping pounds too.
How can smoothies help you lose weight? Well, put simply, you can literally get all the nutrients you need in one glass – and you don’t need to add any excess calories to do it.
Creating a balanced smoothie means getting all the right protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, as well as vitamins and nutrients into one delicious glass of drinkable goodness. It’s perfectly possible and we’ll show you how to do it.
Once you get used to the basics, you can then add in other superfood ingredients to increase the nutritional value of your smoothie and learn to include other minerals that will boost your metabolic rate and in turn give you more energy whilst offering sustenance that really does keep you going for hours!
It’s fair to say that many of the ‘usual’ ingredients associated with smoothies will help as part of a healthy eating or weight loss regime. However, some are better than others in terms of what they can offer you. Some ingredients might initially sound too calorific or contain healthy fats – but can still help weight loss! Read on to find out more…
Avocado: This delicious fruit is used by many as a smoothie thickener, to add hearty creaminess without the calories of dairy products, or if they are intolerant to lactose. Avocado is rich in healthy fats and will help to keep you sustained with its wide range of healthful vitamins.
Berries: Berries are just an awesome addition to any smoothie, and it genuinely doesn’t matter what type you opt for. They’ll add huge amounts of flavour for very little sugar. The bluer the berry the higher the antioxidant levels, too!
Cayenne pepper or Chilli Powder: These important spices add a flavoursome kick to any blend, but the capsaicin contained within the powder is a metabolism booster which will aid weight loss. There have been some indicative studies which show that adding a little kick to a breakfast time smoothie can actually reduce sugar and carbohydrate cravings in the afternoon!
Chia seeds/Flax seeds: Chia and Flax are brilliant fiber boosters and packed with protein to help you feel full for longer. For those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, they’re a great source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as calcium.
Cinnamon: It tastes great in many drinks and baked goods but added to a smoothie it has the real potential to help stabilise blood sugars, by improving the metabolism of glucose. In studies, diabetic patients who were encouraged to drink a cup of tea with half a teaspoon of cinnamon in it, every morning, for breakfast, noted an improvement in control of their blood sugars and less cravings for sweet foods. Even better, if you can add it to a vitamin rich smoothie.
Coconut oil: Initially, you might balk at this suggestion – surely it is too high in fat and calories for weight loss? Not so. Healthy fats in smoothies that come from medium chain sources in coconut oil are efficiently used by the body for energy and not stored as fat. Coconut oil is another ingredient that keeps you satiated. Try to choose organic virgin coconut oil for preference.
Fruit pulp: If you’re already an avid juicer you’ll know how much pulp can end up in the food composter. Don’t throw this away – add it to your smoothies for extra fibre!
Greek yogurt: Again, this may well be another suggestion that raises eyebrows! However, it is essential to include sources of calcium and protein in a weight loss smoothie and in comparison to other yoghurts, this one has higher levels of protein. Opt for full fat, and plain as any Greek yoghurts that contain flavourings will be higher in sugar.
Green vegetables: Dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach and lettuce, are low in calories yet dense with phytonutrients and high in fiber. Include a good variety every single day.
Natural sweeteners: Some people can still find that smoothies are not quite sweet enough, even with fruit. If that’s the case, consider adding a natural sweetener to your mix, such as stevia or agave nectar. For a very little amount and few calories you can add a sweet boost that will keep your sugar levels steady.
Tea (herbal): If a smoothie recipe suggests you add milk to thin it down, you might want to think about using herbal tea instead. Fruity, minty or green teas, made up and left to cool add a delicious taste for no extra calories.
It may sound silly, but anything unhealthy, or processed! This is often where major chains or supermarkets and restaurants fall down with their smoothie offerings. Often, they can just be sugary, slushy water with a vague suggestion of fruit. This is often why it is much better to make your own at home from fresh ingredients.
There are quite a few unhealthy smoothie bases that should be avoided if you want to make a weight loss smoothie.
You might want to avoid:
Store bought fruit juices – often high in sugar and calories
Full fat milk – While this could be used as a base, it is often better to use Greek yoghurt instead as it is lower I fat and higher in protein. Regular milk from the supermarket can often contain high levels of hormones from animal feeds.
Bottled water – While this would have no bearing on your weight, it’s an expensive smoothie base that really doesn’t add anything that you couldn’t get from water that’s been boiled and cooled at home.
There are lots of ways to add flavour to a smoothie without adding in any extra calories. However, there are definitely some other main smoothie ingredients, just as we’ve seen with smoothie bases, that should be avoided.
Many people see the word smoothie and automatically assume that what they’re getting is good for them – especially if they buy from a store or chain café.
The single most important thing to avoid in a smoothie is excess sugar. Here we’ll show you how to do that and what ingredients not to add as your main components.
Canned fruits and vegetables: There’s no doubt that fresh is always best – if you can’t get enough decent quality fresh fruit or veg, opt for frozen before you buy cans.. Canned fruits and vegetables will often have preservatives and sugars in them which add to the calories and reduce their health benefits. Fresh and frozen maintain their integrity for longer.
Protein powders (they’re not all created the same!): Some protein powders are brilliant quality and will add essential nutrients to your blend. But make sure you read the label carefully. Some are often full of fillers which won’t do anything for your weight loss. In place of more suspect protein powders use nuts, nut butters, seeds, and Greek yogurt.
Sweeteners:Avoid refined sugar totally and use honey or maple syrup in moderation – it’s better to try stevia or agave nectar before you turn to anything else. Stevia is a natural sweetener that you can use and agave nectar can be used in tiny quantities for maximum sweetness.
Too much sweet fruit: Whole, fresh fruits are good for you, but too many can sometimes cause sugar spikes and give digestive discomfort. Berries are the best choice in most cases, but keep fruits like banana, apple, mango, and pineapple to a minimum.
Think carefully about how much weight you’d ideally like to lose and how you’d like to go about incorporating smoothies into this plan. It’s sometimes good to think about a month long plan that can be adapted to suit your lifestyle. It can be changed accordingly, to fit in with your work routines and schedules too.
Start small and look at the bigger picture. Think about incorporating one smoothie into your diet every single day, and maybe think about it making it your breakfast choice.
Kick start your metabolism by creating a smoothie that contains fruit, veggies and some healthy fat and protein! For your other main meals, lunch and dinner, put together dishes that are high in good quality lean protein and have lots of fresh salad and veggies too. You could have chicken with stir fried veggies and quinoa. Or fresh salmon, steamed greens and steamed new potatoes.
Have your smoothie for breakfast and then either another one for lunch, or dinner.
Your healthier eating choices will begin to feel a bit more natural by now and good, healthy green foods and juices will reduce your cravings for sugar and salt laden snacks. Your energy levels will start to increase too!
Try out some different variations and recipes for your second smoothie of the day. Keep to the right proportions of fruit and veg as well as healthy fats and protein.
Make your lunch time meal one that is high in protein and good fats, to keep you satiated until dinner time.
Now we’ll try to increase your smoothies to three a day, but just for three days of the week. Look at your schedule and your diet and pick the three days of the week in which it would be the most convenient for you to have three smoothies.
For instance, you might want to do Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as your three smoothies in three days challenge, with Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday as two smoothies and one meal. You might find it more convenient to space out the three days – so have Monday, Wednesday and Friday as your three smoothie days. It may even work better for you to do it over the weekend. On the days you’re not having three smoothies a day, simply drop to two per day, plus a meal.
By now you will hopefully be noticing some slow, steady weight loss – an increase in your energy levels and an all round feeling of better health.
Now is therefore the time to find your ideal maintenance plan, to keep you on the right healthy track. You might want to stick to week three for a while longer, and then drop back to week two’s plan, before eventually just using week one as a permanent and long term healthy eating regime.
Your ideal aim is to work back to that, but every individual is different and may want to take their time according to how much weight needs to be lost. Slow and steady always wins the race – and a one to two pound loss every week, over a sustained period is healthy and attainable and what you should aim for.
The main thing is, enjoy your smoothies and all the benefits they can give you for targeted weight loss.