I love smoothies! And most people I know love them too. But every once in a while, you’ll come across an article warning you about the potential for weight gain if you drink them too often. Obviously, there are thousands of healthy, fit people drinking smoothies every day, so it can’t be all that bad. But on the other hand, there are also people drinking smoothies trying to shed some pounds and seeing no progress.
What exactly is the deal with smoothies and weight gain (or smoothies and weight loss), then?
Based on thousands of cycles on my blender and hundreds of clients, here are three of the most common smoothie mistakes that I see people making. They might not be a problem for you, but if you’re not getting the results you expected from your smoothies, check to make sure you’re not doing these things wrong.
1. Drinking Your Smoothie Too Fast
This one is so easy to make, I’m sure pretty well everyone who drinks smoothies has been guilty of it at least once or twice. Imagine eating three or four large apples in one sitting - that might leave you feeling a little stuffed. But throw them in a blender, and you'll get two to three cups of apple smoothie. Not all that hard to drink, right?
It might seem like a lot, but if we're talking breakfast, three to four large apples will just about keep you going until lunchtime. There are people who make their smoothies even bigger (I used to be one of them) and that’s where it’s even easier to get things wrong.
Eating fruit whole will leave you feeling full a lot sooner than when you blend and drink it down. This is normal, as studies have shown that consuming your meal by drinking it carries a high risk of overconsumption. So drinking smoothies too fast can trick your body into consuming more than your daily caloric needs. You start feeling hungry after an hour or two even after gulping down a big jug of your favorite power smoothie, which makes it easier to gain weight, even if what you reach for is another smoothie.Tweet - Drinking smoothies too fast can trick your body into consuming more than your daily caloric needs.
So what's the solution? You can discipline yourself into drinking slower, but my favorite is making smoothie bowls. There’s not much you do differently, except that you eat your smoothie with a spoon and you can add some cut, unblended fruit to it. This gives you more time to enjoy your meal with better results for your metabolism and energy.
There are a number of studies showing that simply eating slower can prolong your energy for the day. It’s like with soups. Research shows that consumption of soups leads to a higher reduction of hunger and increased fullness, compared to solid food. This means you can take your smoothie bowl like you would enjoy your favorite soup. Grab a spoon!
2. Drinking Too Little
Another classic mistake that’s just the opposite of no. 1 is taking just a small cup of smoothie and thinking it's enough to power you through the day. Blending a banana with half a cup of berries and a small apple tastes great, but in terms of energy, it’s about 5% to 10% of what an average person needs in 24 hours.
You can still get a lot of micronutrients from a small smoothie if you’re using it as a vessel for your daily dose of greens or superfoods, but you also need energy to keep you going, period. Going too low on your energy intake can lead to brain fog and all sorts of unhealthy snacking as your body desperately tries to fuel up.
If you take smoothies instead of meals, and not just as a healthy addition to your day, you really shouldn’t be afraid of making them bigger. As long as you drink them slowly, remember? Weight loss or weight gain from smoothies is all about the quantity and the way you consume them.
3. Combining The Wrong Fruits/Vegetables/Greens
There's a reason why some smoothie recipes are a hit and some tank, even though they might taste good. The simple secret to really good smoothies is this: less is better. The more ingredients you put in your blender, the higher your chances of drinking something that tastes weird (and I wish I wasn’t speaking from extensive personal experience, but I am).
It doesn’t just stop there, though. Weird combinations, and especially weird combinations in large quantities, can lead to digestive problems, bloating, and gas, as well as energy swings and weight gain. As a rule of thumb, stick with 1-3 kinds of fruit and 1 kind of vegetable or green, and avoid adding large amounts of seeds, nuts or oils in your smoothie.
Superfoods, powders and herbs/spices to improve the taste are up to you… but I wouldn’t go overboard with them, either. When in doubt, use less rather than more.
The bottom line is that smoothies are great! You get the nutrients you need for a healthy lifestyle, but eating too much, too little or even some combining mistakes can make you miss out on the benefits you could be getting from them.