Do you know what’s really in your smoothie?
Smoothies can be an amazing way to get tons of nutrients at once, BUT sugars/carbohydrates can begin to add up pretty quickly when you aren’t aware of how to properly balance your drink! You may think you’re making the healthy choice by purchasing a smoothie for lunch instead of opting for other fast food options but in reality this option may be worse.
I recently did some investigating to see just how much sugar was in one of these store bought smoothies and found one in particular that someone might perceive as one of the healthiest options: a “Tropi-Kale” smoothie made with kale, mangos, bananas, apples and pineapple. Sounds healthy right? A regular size contains 52g of sugars and over 72g of carbohydrates with as little as 10g of fibre.
Now with this being said, yes, these sugars are from fruits, which are natural, whole foods but most smoothie companies use fruit juices instead of whole fruits in their smoothies. Using fruit juices takes away majority of the fibre that our bodies need to slow down the digestion process and keep us feeling satiated. Consuming these fruit juices also raises your blood sugar levels rapidly and will quickly cause a blood sugar crash; leaving you feeling hungry soon after.
So, how do we create a smoothie that is nutritious, balanced and will leave you feeling full and satisfied?
I have created a simple guide to help you out!!
Make them 50% veggies: the best way to lower the amount of sugar in your smoothie is to add lots of veggies! Some great options are leafy greens of any kind. You can also experiment with things like cucumber, zucchini, cauliflower, beets, carrots.
Stick to one type of fruit: fruit sugars can add up pretty quickly when you add a large variety of them to your smoothie. Instead, try to stick to ONE type of fruit per smoothie. Berries are a great option because they are low on the glycemic index and contain a ton of fibre! Frozen banana is also a favourite of mine, it adds a delicious creamy thick texture to your smoothie that reminds me of a milkshake. Pineapple, mango or coconut are great options to create tropical flavours.
Ditch the fruit juices: you need to be careful when it comes to fruit juices because they can load on the sugar without any of the beneficial fibre you’d get from the actual fruit. This can spike your blood sugar levels much faster! Swap the fruit juices out for a plant milk such as almond, oat, cashew, coconut, etc. You could also use coconut water or normal filtered water.
Add in the golden three: fibre, healthy fats and protein. This combo is ESSENTIAL to ensure your smoothie is properly balanced and will actually keep you full for more than half an hour. Sources of healthy fats can be avocado, nut butters, chia seeds, hemp hearts, flax seeds, coconut yogurt. A source of protein can be protein powder, greek yogurt, SKYR yogurt. A source of fibre can be from the fruits and veggies, as well as any additional seeds.
Superfoods: superfoods are not an essential part of making a balanced smoothie but they can add a little boost of additional nutritional benefits! Cinnamon is an amazing additional to help balance your blood sugar levels. Cacao powder can be a delicious way to get a chocolatey flavour with added antioxidant properties. Ginger can add a spicy, pungent flavour to your drink, as well as aid in digestion. Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant you can add, along with black pepper for optimal absorption.