No offense to ice cream, but smoothies are definitely our warm-weather treat of choice. They provide essential servings of fruits and veggies—plus, they satisfy our sweet tooth. But do they really deserve a rep as a weight loss tool? Or are some better than others when it comes to slimming us down? We reached out to nutritionists who confirmed that while smoothies can help you lose weight, there’s a specific formula you need to follow.
Be Realistic With Meal Replacements
“Those looking for a quick fix often turn to a smoothie diet, which might be an okay option for kicking off a weight loss plan, but it is not sustainable for long term use,” says Marci Clow, RDN at Rainbow Light. When choosing a healthy diet, you want something you can stick to now and years from now, she adds. Do you plan on drinking three smoothies a day for eternity? Yeah, we didn’t think so. “If substituted for one meal, on a well-balanced healthy eating plan, smoothies are a great option.”
Protein & Fiber Are Key
To be a sufficient meal replacement, it needs to hold off hunger until the next meal. If you’re having a smoothie for breakfast, but snacking every hour on the hour before lunch, you’re actually more likely to gain weight than lose it. “I always recommend to clients who are trying to lose weight to eat foods that are high protein and high fiber because they will keep you fuller longer,” says Deborah Orlick Levy, MS, RD, Carrington Farms Health and Nutrition Consultant.
The Bowflex Body Rich Chocolate Fat Burner + Shake Boost ($99.95 for 30 servings) not only aids weight loss by speeding up the metabolism, but guarantees to keep even the most active full with its rich blend of protein and fiber. Rainbow Light Protein Energizer ($21.99) is a sugar-free brown rice alternative that keeps energy up and calories down. Clow also recommends adding chia or flax seeds to up your protein and fiber, or add something as simple as oatmeal.
Do Add in Fat
“Foods which contain healthy fats can help keep you energized and satiated and they’re also vital to overall health,” says Clow. Easy add-ins are avocado, which also provides a creamy texture, and nuts. “Coconut oil is also a popular ingredient. It contains medium-chain triglycerides which are used for energy as opposed to being stored as fat.”
Watch the Sugar
Here’s where the mistake takes place, because many smoothie ingredient staples are loaded with sugar. “Peanut butter or any other nut butter, ice cream and chocolate milk are high calorie foods that should not be added to a smoothie if weight loss is desired,” says Levy. Agave, honey and maple syrup should be kept to a minimum as well. You shouldn’t need an added sweetener if you’re including at least one fruit, says Clow.
Another culprit could be the fruit themselves. “To cut down on the sugar and add additional fiber, leafy greens are a great addition to a smoothie,” says Clow.
Skip the Juice Bar
Although smoothies and juices are often grouped together in the health world, their ingredients vary greatly. “Juices tend to be high-carb, low-protein and devoid of fiber, unless a juicer which does not remove fiber is used,” says Clow. “When used exclusively, juicing may lead to dramatic spikes in blood sugar, headaches, mood swings, dizziness and fatigue.”
Levy agrees, warning against drinking pre-packaged juices especially. “You can make your own smoothie that is high in fiber and nutrients and lower in sugar than juice.”
Bottom line: smoothies can aid in weight loss, but they shouldn’t be revered as a lazy girl’s trick to shedding pounds. Like with any weight loss plan, a well-balanced diet and fitness regime are key.
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