There’s a lot of confusion around smoothies. And I get it. There’s an overabundance of protein powders and recipes out there. Not to mention the information surrounding when, what, how much, or why we should be having them.
Most of the smoothies I see posted on Instagram or popular blogs wouldn’t be recommended by me.
But let’s get something straight: I’m a fan of anything that catapults someone to begin to eat healthier foods. If someone is coming off of processed foods and loves having a real-food protein smoothie for breakfast, then that’s awesome.
If someone doesn’t have time to prepare breakfast and has a balanced smoothie instead, great.
If someone gets home late from an exercise class and doesn’t feel like having a huge dinner right before bed, then a smoothie is an excellent option.
But they’re not the best option for always.
Here’s a couple reasons why smoothies must be redefined and reformulated:
- They’re usually loaded with fruit. I remember walking to Smoothie King with my girlfriends in high school and ordering their quintessential Angel Food smoothie and subsequently walking on clouds, feeling like the epitome of health. But it had like 80g of sugar! Even though fruit is a healthy option, adding 3-4 fruits is too much for our blood sugar and insulin to handle. Especially first thing in the morning. Stick to ½-1 cup fruit maximum per smoothie. Making a homemade smoothie is definitely the way forward. The only issue with making at home is you need all the equipment to make it! One of the things that you could need is an ice blender. Fortunately, This guide By Juice Buff Explains More On Blending Ice can help anyone who is struggling to find the right one.
- Most protein powders are crap and heavily processed. Have you looked at the back of a tub of protein powder recently? It has a literal novel of ingredients. Most of them also taste like chalk. Yum. Stick to less less processed sources of protein that have five or less ingredients. I can’t do whey, and know it gives many people issues with bloating, so I stick to vegetarian sources of protein such as pea protein, or collagen protein (from animals; amazing for hair, skin, & nails). Note that the collagen & whey proteins will be more beneficial for building muscle post workout due to the fact that they contain all the essential amino acids. For vegetarian sources, I like the ones by the tone it up girls and aloha. For collagen and animal sources, I LOVE vital proteins (I love all the collagen, especially the vanilla collagen, the beauty greens, all the beauty waters, the bone broth protein (mix with water though, not your smoothie), do the whey if you can tolerate), primal fuel, and equip foods. Most of these are pricey, yes, but I’d rather pay extra for quality food.
- It’s not an “always” meal replacement. They’re a great on-the-go option, but they shouldn’t be relied upon heavily. Try and get real food in as much as you can.
- Digestion and blood sugar compromise. Since smoothies are blended (duh!), our bodies don’t have to work as hard to break the ingredients down and digest them. Therefore, they hit the bloodstream faster and can make you feel hungrier, faster. Try to add some chopped nuts, shredded coconut, or a couple berries on top for something to chew. And while you drink, chew your smoothie if you can. Sounds totally awk, but come on, chew that sh*t.
That being said, there is still an appropriate time for smoothies. Just be discerning and don’t use them as the “easy button” and eat 3 smoothies per day. I have one for breakfast a couple days per week. Watch the sugar, watch the powder, and make sure they’re balanced!
Wait, what’s balanced?
Make sure your smoothies contain:
- Some fiber: 1-2 tablespoons chia or flax seeds
- Greens: handful of spinach (calm down with adding kale or arugula to smoothies because have you actually tasted that?)
- Protein powder: (see options above)
- Fat: 1-2 tablespoons nut/seed butter or coconut oil, ½ avocado, 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
- Fruit: optional, but aim for 1/2 cup, 1 cup maximum. I almost always go for a frozen banana because it tastes like ice cream when blended. Not exaggerating. Can’t have a banana? Consider frozen berries, mango, pineapple, papaya, peaches, etc.
- Liquid to blend: nut milk, coconut milk, or coconut water (especially for post workout, coconut water is an excellent source of electrolytes, throw your Gatorade in the trash).
- Other flavorings: cocoa, vanilla, matcha, citrus, fresh herbs (like basil), shredded coconut, cocoa nibs, etc. Totally optional but really delicious.
- Toppings: remember how I said you should top those smoothies with something crunchy for you to chew? Consider nuts, shredded coconut, cocoa nibs, some diced fruit, or seeds! Half the time I don’t add, but they are really delicious and you can easily create a beautiful smoothie bowl using these toppings.
How to make your smoothie extra delicious?
After years of putting it off, I think it’s 100% worth it to get a pricey high speed blender. I love my Vitamix. Although other blenders and immersion blenders will get the job done, nothing can create the delicious texture of a high speed blender. Plus, you can use it for soups, sauces, purees, desserts, and aaaall the smoothies.
Are you guys a fan of smoothies? How do you incorporate them into your life?
Oh yeah, here’s my current, most basic, and favorite smoothie recipe right now. IT’S SO GOOD. Very rich. Very filling. Super fall.
Pumpkin pie smoothie
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup almond milk
1/2-1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 handful ice
1 handful spinach (I didn’t use here but include if you feel like it)
Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend for 1-2 minutes, until the smoothie is uniformly blended.
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