When it comes to losing weight, in a perfect world we would have adequate time to prepare healthy food for balanced meals every day, and be able to take our time to sit down and enjoy each meal. Sounds like a fantasy world, right? The truth is, we are busier than we’ve ever been!! I hear it from my clients all the time , “I’m too busy to cook!” or “I don’t have time to meal prep.” Given that everyone seems to be short on time, it’s not surprising that meal replacement shakes, bars and snacks have grown in popularity exponentially over the past several decades.
The idea of replacing a meal with a shake isn’t a new concept in the world of weight loss…who HASN’T heard of Slim Fast?! In fact, diet shakes are estimated to be a $10 billion industry.
And while replacing a meal with a shake certainly offers convenience, the vast majority of meal replacement shakes available (or bars, frozen meals, etc.) are filled with additives, low quality processed ingredients, and are high in sugar.
A better, healthier option for a liquid lunch? Try a whole-foods based SMOOTHIE! I absolutely love smoothies, and replacing my mid-day meal with a smoothie helped me lose 40 pounds! Whole foods provide a much better balance of vitamins and nutrients. Plus, using real foods offers more variety, and forces you to make choices that help you maintain weight loss in the long run (I’ve kept the weight off for 3 years now).
But, even when it comes to smoothies, there are a few things you want to keep in mind to make sure you are creating a balanced meal replacement! And, there are some ingredients that can go a long way to support your weight loss efforts.
4 Components of a Health Smoothie:
Let’s explore these ingredients in more detail to get you on your way to making an awesome weight-loss boosting smoothie!
Protein is the single most important nutrient for losing weight and building lean muscle for a better looking body. High-protein foods take more work to digest, metabolize, and use, which means you burn more calories processing them. They also take longer to leave your stomach, so you feel full for a longer amount of time. Protein can also help you increase and maintain muscle mass—something necessary to burn fat, even when you’re not working out.
Adding a protein powder to your smoothie is an easy way to increase your daily protein intake to optimize weight loss. A small problem: with so many brands to choose from it can be challenging to find the healthiest option (a protein powder that is free from additives and added sugars). 3 ingredients to avoid: soy, casein, and sucralose!
And it may take a little experimentation to determine what type of protein powder is best for your body!
Here are my top protein powder picks:
- Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder – Fit365 Vanilla Bean
- Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder – Truvani Chocolate
- Collagen Protein Powder – Vital Protein Collagen Peptides
I am SO happy that the tide has turned when it comes to FAT… steering clear of processed low-fat foods that is, and including healthy fats as part of a balanced weight loss plan! Healthy fats can support weight loss, lower bad cholesterol, and give you shiny hair and healthy nails.
Including a source of healthy fat in your smoothie is another way to keep you feeling full, longer. Another reason to include a little healthy fat… certain vitamins, like Vitamin A, K, E and D and various minerals are fat soluble, meaning fat must be present in order for your body to properly absorb them.
Sources of healthy fats to include in your smoothie:
- Flax Seeds
- Chia Seeds
- Hemp Seeds
- Raw, Virgin Coconut Oil
For the seeds and coconut oil, a little goes a long way; in most cases a teaspoon or so is perfect in a large smoothie!
What if I told you there is ONE thing you can do today to start losing weight without changing anything else? Would you be interested?
A study published in today’s Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that something as simple as aiming to eat 30 grams of fiber each day can help you lose weight, without making other changes to your diet. The reason? Fiber is super-filling, and it is digested more slowly than simple starches and sugars. It slows down the release of sugars into the bloodstream, keeping blood sugar levels stable.
My top picks for fiber:
- Unripe, green banana
- Mixed Berries
- Pumpkin (love the flavors of fall? Try making this Pumpkin Spice smoothie!)
Flax, chia, and hemp seeds are also a great source of fiber! All the more reason to include them in your smoothie!
Just like fats, carbohydrates often get a bad rap when it comes to weight loss. And while it is true, that there are health benefits to a lower carbohydrate diet, there is much debate over how low you should go. As a general rule, when it comes to making dietary changes, I believe sustainability is an important factor to consider. Carbohydrates provide your body with energy and help maintain your blood-sugar levels; not to mention, carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits and vegetables are full of fiber, vitamins and vital nutrients!
When it comes to a balanced smoothie, focus on adding carbohydrates from leafy greens:
- Swiss Chard
- Collard Greens
- Cruciferous Veggies like Cauliflower!
You’d be surprised that mixed into a smoothie, you don’t even taste the veggies! To keep things balanced, I would choose only 1 serving of fruit for your smoothie, and the keep the rest of the carbs green. This will ensure that you don’t go overboard on the sugar content… a common mistake in smoothie making.
Maybe you’ve heard the term “superfood” recently, but you’ve wondered… “what exactly IS a super food?” Although there’s no set criteria as to what defines a superfood, these are foods that are jam-packed with nutrients and can help you achieve better health, prevent chronic disease, and improve the way you feel day in and day out!
When it comes to smoothies, you definitely want to include superfoods! Not only will you help optimize your body’s ability to function, superfoods provide your body with the vitamins and minerals you need, and can support your weight loss efforts.
My favorite smoothie superfoods:
- Wild Blueberries
- Barley Grass
- Ceylon Cinnamon
One of the easiest ways to include superfoods is to give a green powder like Amazing Grass Green Superfood a try. They offer a wide variety of formulations and flavors; I personally love Detox & Digest, and Beauty Elixir. All the formulas offer a blend of nutritious greens, phytonutrient-packed fruits, veggies and cereal grasses, digestive enzymes and probiotics which increase energy, promotes detoxification and boosts your immune system.
Ready to Put it All Together?
Now that you know how to ACE your smoothie game for weight loss, give this recipe a try!
1 cup filtered water
Protein Powder of Choice (following serving guidelines)
1 cup baby spinach
1 cup kale
1/2 unripe, green banana
1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries (or mix of wild blueberries & raspberries)
1 tsp. ground flax seeds
Optional: 1 scoop of Amazing Grass Superfood Greens
For a thicker smoothie, add a few cubes of ice
Blend and enjoy!