November 15, 2016Tips for Making Your Smoothie More Weight Friendly

Smoothies have a health halo but they can be a huge calories sink or sugar bomb - it all depends upon how you make it. This post will cover basic tips on how to make smoothies more weight friendly.

Smoothie is a Meal Not a Snack

Smoothies, even made carefully, are rarely low in calories so consider them as meal replacements if you are trying to lose weight. As a meal replacement, aim for 200-400 calories, 20-30 grams protein, and 15-30 grams total carbs (with 5-10 grams fiber) per serving. Ideally, use a strong blender that can handle (and keep) fruit, veggies, whole nuts and seeds. Cnet reviewed blenders in 2014 if you need ideas on brand or type.

Protein

People tend to use too much fruit and sugary dairy ingredients, yet not enough protein ingredients. For instance, avoid frozen yogurt or ice cream - it's too high in sugar and too low in protein. Aim for 20-30 grams protein per serving if your smoothie is a meal. Here are some protein ideas:

  • Non-fat plain yogurt, Greek style yogurt, or light (low sugar) yogurt or Greek style yogurt
  • Silken tofu
  • Unsweetened whey protein powder (or plant protein powder if preferred)
  • Packaged low carb protein shake

Fruit

Use whole fruit (fresh or frozen) instead of juice. 1 -2 servings of whole fruit will provide a nice sweet flavor if you need it sweet. 1 serving of whole fruit is:

  • 1 cup of berries, cherries, or melon
  • ½ cup sliced or diced fruit of any other type, or grapes
  • ½ large banana or ½ large grapefruit

Non-starchy Veggies

Add greens for extra nutrition and fiber. Kale, spinach, and beets are very popular but any type of non-starchy veggie is a great choice. Check out the American Diabetes Association for their list of non-starchy veggies.

Healthy Fats

Yes, fats are high in calories but remember that your smoothie is a meal, not a snack. You want the benefit of fats for satiety, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals (depending upon type), and come on, for great taste! The trick is to use enough but not too much. Measuring fat carefully is the key to keeping the calories in check. Ideally, use a powerful blender so you have the option of using whole nuts or seeds instead of just oils (which are highest in calories). Here are some popular healthy fats for your smoothie, sorted by calories:

35 kcal/tbsp Ground flax seed (also a good source of fiber)
50-60 kcal/tbsp        Whole nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts, peanuts, etc.)
60-70 kcal/tbsp Chia seeds (also a good of fiber)
95 kcal/tbsp Peanut butter or other nut butters
120 kcal/tbsp Coconut, peanut, or safflower oil (or other non-hydrogenated veg oils)

Crushed Ice

Use crushed ice to give your smoothie a great thick texture while also a nice cold temperature. People often make the mistake of using sugar-sweetened frozen dairy products to get this combination but you don’t need to if you use crushed ice.

Recipes

There are tons of smoothie recipes on the web! My two favorite websites for smoothies are:

Yummly - lots of contributors and you can filter by carb and caloric content

Dawn Jackson Blatner – Dawn’s recipes are weight-friendly, emphasize whole foods (especially fruits & veggies), and limit added sugars and other junky ingredients. And they taste great!

If you need more help learning how to enter your recipes, be sure to read Tips for Accurate Recipes.

Enjoy your adventures in smoothie making!

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE
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Disclaimer: Please note that we cannot provide personalized advice and that the information provided does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit a medical professional.

Tags:

Foods & Recipes/Fruit & Vegetables Meal Planning & Diets/High Protein

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