How To Up Your Smoothie Game
I know it probably doesn’t sound like something you need advice on how to do, but you probably do. Typically if you’re making a smoothie, you’re trying to do something beneficial for your health. Unfortunately, I too often hear my patients making some simple mistakes. Let’s fix that.
I used to hate smoothies, but now I truly love them. My husband and I have one every morning for breakfast. It has really simplified our morning routine. We never go hungry, and we start the morning with a ton of veggies and other goodies that keep our energy up. It’s an easy win.
I used to hate smoothies for a couple of reasons. First, they never kept me full for very long (until I perfected the formula below). Second, the inconvenience of dirtying a blender always put me off. This was back when I had an old school, hard-to-clean blender. To make things easier on yourself, pick up a single use blender like the Nutribullet, an immersion blender, or my favorite, a Vitamix (totally worth it).
The wrong way: the biggest thing I see people doing wrong is loading up on sugar by adding fruit juice or sweetened nut milk and lots of fruit. Starting the morning with a big dose of fructose (even in it’s most natural form - fruit is still sugar) spikes your insulin and is a sure way to gain weight and crash later in the day.
The right way: there a few essential components to a well balanced smoothie, and a well balanced start to your morning.
Protein: I recommend starting the day with 15-20 grams of protein. This can typically be done through a protein powder. I personally use a combination of grass fed collagen and this Designs for Health Protein. I like the unflavored because I enjoy the flavor of the greens and berries. It also comes in chocolate and vanilla. If you are vegan or vegetarian, I like this PurePea protein. It's the purest vegan protein powder I’ve found and is a complete protein.
Healthy Fat: Chances are, like most Americans, you probably not eating nearly enough healthy fats. Fat keeps you full for longer, stabilizes blood sugar and is great for brain power and mood. I know, we were all raised to be terrified of fat because we learned it’s going to make us fat and give us cardiovascular disease. Fast forward, and cardiovascular disease is still the number one killer and obesity is still on the rise. It’s clear at this point, avoiding fat hasn’t done us any good. The wrong things have been demonized. I don’t want to get into this too much now because it’s a full conversation for another time. For now, aim for 1-2 tbsp or golf ball sizes of fat with each meal. Lately, I’ve been using MCT oil in my smoothie but have also been known to use any combination of the following: coconut oil, almond or another nut butter, or avocado. Avocado may sound like a weird one, but it makes the smoothie really delicious and creamy.
Fiber: Most American’s are woefully under eating fiber. Optimal is 25-40 grams per day and the average American consumes 15-18 grams (1) . Fiber improves blood sugar balance, keeps you full for longer, feeds healthy gut bacteria and promotes healthy digestion. The fruits and veggies in your smoothie contain fiber too, but a little extra will keep you satiated for longer. Try 1 tbsp of chia or flax seeds. I also like this powder which doubles as a probiotic.
GREENS: 1 big handful of fresh or frozen kale, spinach or collards. Greens give you vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. And you know I’m always preaching about eating more veggies.
Berries: 1/2 cup of berries of choice. I use frozen berries for convenience but fresh are also great. Berries add an additional antioxidant punch and also make the smoothie taste great.
Base: 5-10 ounces of fluid of choice. Add more or less depending on preferred consistency. I tend to prefer water but if it’s too boring try an unsweetened milk alternative (coconut, almond, hemp, etc). We make our own almond milk, but if pre-made is easier for you, look for one containing just almonds and water. If you can’t find it, I recommend So Delicious brand.
Blend and enjoy...