There is no doubt that the smoothie culture is upon us. We can now find smoothie shops as commonly as coffee shops, as more and more people incorporate smoothies into their diets. Even food outlets are now adding smoothies to their menus. Are smoothies really that good? Let us investigate these questions a bit more here.
How many smoothies should you drink in a day? There is no prescribed number we can use as a standard for the number of smoothies you should drink or should not drink. It depends on your dietary needs and also the type of smoothies you are having.
Replacing one or 2 meals with healthy smoothies is advisable especially if you want to lose weight or control your eating. But it has to be combined with regular healthy meals which have carbs, and fats to ensure the nutrients are not deficient in your diet.
Some may have one or 2 smoothies and others 3 or 4 per day. This depends on the person but drinking all your meals or having meals then smoothies on top of that is not sustainable long term.
Greater clarity can be achieved by answering a few questions you can ask yourself.
What is your purpose?
It is important to first clarify why you want to consume smoothies. Most people switch to smoothies for weight loss or for gaining health. A few may also choose to have smoothies because they simply like the taste. Smoothies are a great meal replacement. Due to this, it can be helpful for people who want to lose weight/gain weight and improve their health as they can control their intake and quality of food.
There are also smoothie diets out there where people drink only smoothies the whole day. This is not something that is sustainable. Most people on average have one or two smoothies a day.
Whatever the reason may be, smoothies can be used to replace a few meals. It would not be advisable to replace all meals with just smoothies. You also need to eat vegetables, fruit, beans to ensure that you obtain sufficient nutrients. Smoothies alone may be inadequate and most importantly unsustainable.
What kind of Smoothies should I drink?
You can have as many smoothies as you want as long as you are careful about what goes into it, and what you want to achieve. A Weightlifter or Bodybuilder may use different ingredients than, say, someone who wants to lose weight. Some may add protein powder, eggs, and milk which others may add only fruits and greens. Ultimately it depends on what you want to achieve.
What are the ingredients to watch out for if you want healthy smoothies?
Smoothies can end up being sugar-laden and unhealthy junk drinks if you are not careful about the ingredients that go into it. Adding peanut butter, dairy products, sugar even sweeteners or honey can make smoothies too calorie-laden. Adding too many fruits can unnecessarily increase your sugar consumption for the day. Too much sugar can be harmful and mess up the metabolism. Drinking smoothies can lead to too many calories being ingested at one time.
Also, nutrient assimilation starts in the mouth while chewing and then at different stages in the digestive system. Gulping down smoothies skips many stages the assimilation process and adequate nutrient absorptions may not happen. In fact, smoothies can lead to feeling bloated and increase the intake of sugar. If you buy your smoothies most of the time it will also lead to unwanted additives and excessive sugars being consumed.
How long do you intend to continue drinking Smoothies?
Sustaining on smoothies might not be a long-term sustainable plan but replacing one or two meals definitely is a great idea and can be continued for as long as you want. Some smoothie drinkers do feel a craving for eating real meals so a balance of regular food and smoothies would be a great combination for putting together a sustainable weight loss plan.
Are Smoothies bad for you?
It all depends upon the ingredients that you have in your smoothie. If your smoothies are sugar and fat-rich, it is going to do you more harm than good. If your smoothies have healthy ingredients such as greens vegetables and a few fruits without added sugar or sweetness this can definitely be health-promoting and great for overall well-being.
One thing to remember is that smoothies are in a liquid form and do not bring in that satiety or curb hunger as compared to a regular meal. You can easily consume too many calories as from drinking smoothies in calories is faster than sitting and chewing through the same number of calories in food.
Too much fruit is also inadvisable and it is better to eat the fruit rather than have it as a juice. The fiber content is greatly reduced. Also, it is important to note that store-bought smoothies are never going to support your health goals compared to making your own smoothies.
You need to know what ingredients are actually going to be used in your smoothie. In general, the more greens you use in your smoothie, the better, as they would not make you fat. Care has to be taken that artificial sweeteners, milk or dairy, too much fruit are not added to the smoothies. This is necessary to ensure that there is a good balance between complex carbs, fiber, protein, and healthy fats. This means that if your smoothies contain only leafy greens or only fruit, important healthy fats and rich sources of nutrients might be missing. So, smoothies are not in themselves either good or bad, it is what goes into them that makes it so.
Here are some tips to ensure that Smoothies are healthy
Try to avoid adding sweeteners and even sugar to your smoothie. Remember you are having a smoothie for health reasons and not for taste so you can compromise on the sweetness a little. Sweetness can be brought in by adding dates and bananas and fruits but do not overdo it.
Avoid mixing milk and other dairy products
Yes, it makes smoothies much tastier and adds to the thickness of it but using ice cream or yogurt or milk will detract from the health-giving properties of your smoothie. Try to limit the smoothie ingredients to fruits, nuts, vegetables, greens, and seeds.
You can always use milk alternatives like almond milk, cashew milk, or oat milk which will bring in some of the qualities of regular milk.
Don’t add too much fruit to your smoothie
Adding a banana and then mango and then topping with strawberries or pineapple- all in one smoothie to make it taste better. But it is not advisable.
Too much fruit sugar can give you an immediate high but you will feel hungry soon after. Instead, you could look at low glycaemic fruits like berries, oranges, or grapefruits along with a balanced amount of vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Adding chia seeds and flax seeds can help you feel full and also add necessary fats to your smoothie resulting in a feeling of satiety.
Bring in a balance between complex carbs, proteins, and healthy fats
It would be good to have fruit as well as vegetables but healthy fats are also necessary. Contrary to popular belief fats don’t make you fat rather it helps you get the necessary nutrients from the food and maintains overall health.
Aim for balance as carbs provide energy, the protein will support growth and repair of muscles and fats will help you prevent nutritional deficiencies and diseases.
Use pure Ingredients
Use whole foods and as natural as possible, it is important that you include whole and natural ingredients in your smoothies. For example, if you add store-bought peanut butter in your smoothie, it definitely will add to the taste and thickness but you’ll also add unwanted sugars that come with commercially produced peanut butter. If you add preserves instead of actual berries again the sugar content will increase and taste will be increased but will have very little health benefits. So, try to use less processed food in their natural form
So, in conclusion, you’ve taken the right step in including smoothies in your diet but the learning has just started. It will take time to create healthy as well as tasty smoothies, but you learn as you go along and gain more knowledge and practice. Combine smoothies with meals replacing one or two meals but not more than this.
Remember to have good healthy meals along with smoothies for the program you follow to be really sustainable. Good luck and wish you a healthy journey!