The weather is simply awesome in New York City, which means it’s time to break out the blender and whip up some smoothies! Smoothies are fun and refreshing, but they’re often unbalanced. I recently had a client who ate a clean, healthy diet and worked out 5-6 days a week, but the scale wasn’t budging. When we reviewed her usual intake, I uncovered the culprit right away. Every time she left the gym, it was with smoothie in hand. In her mind she had “earned it” after a hard workout and she thought, “It’s fruit…antioxidants…good stuff.” True, true and true. But her post-workout treat packed almost as many calories as she burned exercising, and even though it was nutrient-rich, her favorite concoction was pure carbs.
After absorprtion, carbs have one of three fates: 1) they get burned for fuel in the hours after you eat them – if you need the fuel that is 2) they get stored as glycogen, the storage form of carbohydrate you deposit in your liver and muscles as a back-up fuel or 3) if you don’t need the fuel and your glycogen piggy banks are full, they get socked away in your fat cells. By my calculations, my client’s smoothie was simply supporting her fat cells. Bottom line: it needed a makeover.
If you’re using a smoothie as a meal replacement or substantial snack, you can afford to “spend” between 350 and 500 calories. Ideally it should provide a balance of carbs, protein. Optimal ingredients include:
- One cup of frozen, unsweetened fruit
- One half cup each organic non-fat Greek yogurt and organic skim milk or non-dairy alternatives (e.g. organic soy or hemp)
- 2 Tbsp natural nut butter
- 1 cup frozen mixed berries
- One half cup plain organic 0% Greek yogurt
- One half cup organic skim milk
- 2 Tbsp natural almond butter
20 g fat
33 g carbs
23 g protein
In comparison, at Jamba Juice, an original size (22 oz) Mango-a-Go-Go (made from a blend of fruit, fruit juice, sherbet and ice) contains 400 calories from 1.5 g fat, 94 g of carbs and 3 g protein.
At Smoothie King, a 20 ounce Berry Punch (made from strawberries, blueberries, raspberry sorbet and electrolyte mix) contains 360 calories with 0 g fat, 91 g carbs and 0 g protein.
When you make your own smoothie at home, resist the urge to fill the blender with fruit and leave out the protein or fat. And when you grab a smoothie on the go, ask to build your own so you can control what goes in it. A balanced smoothie will keep you fuller longer, better control your blood sugar and energy level and give your body all the building blocks it needs to look and feel your best.
Do you tend to go carb crazy when it comes to smoothies? Do you drink smoothies with meals rather than in place of meals? Do you reach for a 400 calorie smoothie when you only need a 200 calorie snack? Please share your thoughts!