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What's the deal with smoothies?

I enjoy a good smoothie like many people. Smoothies are considered a health food that can pack in a lot of key nutrients. While this is true, smoothies can also be very large and heavy on the carbohydrate side - particularly full of fructose (the sugar found in fruit). Often smoothies have 1, 2, or even 3 cups of fruit. Often they have yogurt or plant-based milk with added sugars. Also, by blending these foods into smoothies, we basically pre-digest these foods before we eat them making the carbohydrates available for quick absorption. What I tell my clients about smoothies can be summed up in one word: balance. You want to balance carbs with fat, protein, and fiber (this is good advice for meals and snacks, too). Here is what I recommend to my clients:

  • Start with 1/2 cup of fruit (consider berries first). I use frozen berries.

  • Add 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt or at least a flavored one with no added sugar (I use full-fat yogurt, but that is an article to itself).

  • No added sugar soy milk for added protein and fewer carbs (I don't like oat milk or almond milk, again a future topic).

  • Add a fat such as avocado, nut butter, or even a little coconut oil every once in a while.

  • Add fiber. I use Chia seeds (they will expand over time so it has to be consumed in a reasonable time) or sometimes I even add my fiber supplement.

  • For sweetness, I will add some stevia.

Other great additions to a smoothie are cacao powder, protein powder and veggies. Cacao powder is packed with nutrients like potassium, magnesium, fiber, vitamin C, and flavanols. A good quality protein powder or collagen powder work well, but no need to overdo it with tons of added protein. Many people like to add greens to their smoothies, which is perfectly fine, but for me it makes my delicious smoothie taste awful. I save my veggies for later. So, before you make your next smoothing, consider how you can tweak it for more balance.

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