The idea of the smoothie as a weight-loss tool has been around for a long time. By blending a bunch of fruits and vegetables together, smoothies are supposed to melt fat away by combining all sorts of fancy nutrients together.
But like so many other weight loss tricks, smoothies are trickier to use than you might expect. Anyone can make or buy a smoothie, but if you want a smoothie that actually makes you lose weight, you have to understand how smoothies truly help you lose weight and avoid some of the common mistakes.
1. Thinking that all fruits and vegetables are low-calorie
The entire point of going on a smoothie diet is that by combining fruits and vegetables into a smoothie, you consume less calories than when eating a regular, carbohydrate-based meal.
But all of this assumes that the smoothie is actually low-calorie. As Web MD points out, some restaurant smoothies can contain more calories than a fast-food meal. Throwing in a bunch of varied fruits, while appetizing, will just add in more calories for little benefit. It should also be noted that fruit contains a lot of natural sugars, and contrary to what many health experts may claim, there is no real difference between natural sugar and artificial, refined sugar.
If you buy a smoothie, make sure it has few calories. If you make one, only use one or maybe two kinds of fruits or vegetables to keep the calories down.
2. Not adding protein
As noted above, smoothies should help you consume less calories than eating a regular meal. But at the same time, a good weight loss smoothie needs to be filling so that you don’t just get hungry and eat again a short while later.
For that reason, protein is a necessary part of any smoothie. The popularity of low-carb, high-protein diets has helped show that protein can be a valuable part of losing weight because protein is filling and can keep your energy levels high. Weight loss, at a fundamental level, is about eating less calories while tricking your body into thinking that it is full, and protein is key to accomplishing that.
Now, that does not mean that you should throw some bacon into your smoothie (though you can). Good protein choices include nuts, tofu, or protein powder if you want to keep things simple. Milk is probably the best choice, though almond milk should be avoided as it carries little protein.
3. Not adding fiber
Protein is not the only thing which can be used to keep your stomach full throughout the day. Dietary fiber is also incredibly beneficial. One study conducted by the Annals of Internal Medicine found that just increasing fiber consumption to about 30 grams a day was as effective a weight loss tool as reducing saturated fats and following American Heart Association dietary guidelines.
Good sources of fibers include leafy greens like kale along with berries or chia seeds.
4. Using sweeteners
So, you added just a few fruits, leafy greens, and milk to create a smoothie, only to find that you don’t like the taste. As a result, you throw in just a dollop of honey or sugar to improve the taste, thinking that it will not destroy your smoothie’s health benefits.
But there is no reason to do that, especially since any smoothie will contain sugar-bearing fruits to begin with. Adding more sugar just makes your smoothie less nutritionally viable and packs in additional calories which will ruin your weight loss plans. This will especially make it difficult to lose fat around the belly and other problem areas.
If you really cannot tolerate the taste of your smoothie, there are other alternatives such as cinnamon, salt, or lemon juice which can make your smoothie more palatable. But when you are making a smoothie, try not to use anything that you don’t like unblended. If you don’t like it in a solid form, you are not going to like it in a liquid form.
5. Making your smoothie too large
We can talk about all the healthy foods which will help you lose weight, but the fact is that the most basic thing you can do is to just eat less. It’s not like Americans are eating worse foods today than 50 years ago. We’re just eating a lot more, as we have lost all sense of portion control.
And this applies to weight loss smoothies as well. As smoothies are a liquid, it can be easy to drink way too much and end up no better than before. Don’t fill up your blender with every ingredient you can find, and try to keep your smoothie thick instead of thin and runny. A good smoothie should be no more than 300 calories, and you should try to make it less if you can.
Featured photo credit: VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com