Maybe you tried to drink weight loss smoothies. How did it go for you ? Success depends on many variables, such as the composition of your normal diet, the amount of exercise you do, and the types of smoothies you make or buy.
For some people, smoothie meal replacements can help them achieve a calorie deficit while providing important nutrients that may be lacking in their normal diet. For others, drinking smoothies for weight loss can turn into a nasty surprise, backfire by making them gain weight, and worse, bringing them closer to losing weight. Type 2 diabetes.
For these reasons, some dietitians are big fanatics of smoothies, while others advise against them for their clients or suggest to be judicious about their making. Below we have collected the opinions of some of the Registered Dietitians on our medical advice. You are the judge.
Smoothies can be a great way to get extra protein and nutrients without much effort and can help you lose weight.
“Protein helps slow digestion, so it fills you up faster and keeps you full longer,” says medical consultant Amy Goodson, RD, CSSDauthor of The Sports Nutrition Handbook. “Make a smoothie with 20-30 grams of protein with milk, Greek yogurt and/or protein powder to increase satiety. The volume of liquid often makes people feel full.”
“I personally am not a fan of smoothies for weight loss. I recommend eating real food and eating calories and not drinking them for weight loss,” says a medical expert. Julie Upton, MS, RDco-founder of Appetite for health advice. “For some people, smoothies can help them lose weight while for others it can’t. Losing weight means you’ve created a calorie deficit. If drinking a smoothie for a meal makes you eat fewer calories, that’s will help you lose If you drink a high-calorie smoothie that adds calories or maintains your calories, your weight may actually increase.
“Smoothies can absolutely be a healthy weight management staple,” says Lisa Moskovitz, Dt.P.CEO of NY Nutrition Group, author of The The core 3 Healthy diet. “If you’re trying to intentionally lose weight, focus on protein, fiber and fat, the healthy trifecta for healthy eating.”
Protein can come from Greek yogurt, milk, tofu, or protein powder. Fresh or frozen fruit offers fiber and adding a vegetable, such as spinach, kale, zucchini, or cauliflower, provides extra gut-friendly bulk and nutrients. Fat like avocado, chia seeds, or almond butter, helps keep you fit and satisfied, she says.
“I often recommend smoothies as a great method to get into multiple food groups,” says Moskovitz. “The trick is to add bulk with veggies. Not only are veggies nutrient-dense and low-calorie, they’re packed with metabolism-supporting and energizing nutrients.”
When you blend a smoothie at home, you control the ingredients. This is not the case in smoothie shops and convenience stores.
“Store-bought smoothies often contain added sugars in “turbinado” form, says Goodson. “That added sugar can quickly add a lot of calories. Be sure to assess calories of all ingredients and smoothie serving sizes if weight loss is your goal.”
“I usually recommend smoothies as a snack or as part of a meal with something to chew on like a slice of toast,” says Laura Burak, MS, RDOwner of Laura BurakNutrition.
Pairing a smoothie with something to chew on makes it more satisfying. If your goal is to lose weight, Burak advises keeping an eye on ingredient serving sizes.
“Just adjust the ingredients and use fruit with no added sugars or syrups, low-sugar yogurts and milk, and spread out calorie-dense ingredients like nuts and nut butter to create a balanced meal or snack that fits into a diet for your specific goals,” she says.
Burak’s book Slim down with smoothies offers 100 recipes that will help you do just that.
Like most dietitians on our medical board, Lauren Manaker, MS, RDNauthor of First Time Mom Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility, thinks smoothies can be appropriate for weight loss, depending on the ingredients chosen, portion sizes consumed, and what’s included in the meal plan for the rest of the day. Smoothies can be especially helpful for “breakfast captains,” she says.
“We know that 90% of Americans don’t eat the recommended servings of produce, and people who eat breakfast regularly tend to have fewer nutrient deficiencies, which can help them achieve their weight loss goals,” Manaker says.
Smoothies should always contain healthy carbs, protein, healthy fats and fiber to promote satiety. And portion sizes should be appropriate.
“Chia seeds and hemp seeds are easy additions to weight loss smoothies that check the boxes for healthy fats, fiber and protein, making them typical ingredients of choice when I guide clients on the way to create a weight loss-friendly smoothie,” Manaker says.
With a smoothie or any blended or juiced drink, it’s easy to unknowingly swallow many more calories than intended, so be careful, according to Tammy Lakatos Shame, RDN, CDN, CFTand Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFTalso known as The twins of nutrition.
“We explain it to our customers this way: When you eat four apples, you know you ate them, but when you drink four apples mixed together, it can mix into a cup or less of liquid, and you can’t. not realizing how much you’re consuming,” they say. “Usually when you drink your calories, instead of eating them, it’s not as satisfying as when you eat real food, and you end up eating more calories later in the day. And, if you load your smoothies with sugar, syrup, fruit overkill, or other add-ins, you could unknowingly create a calorie bomb.”
As long as their customers remain aware of blender mistakes when making smoothies, The Nutrition Twins believe smoothies can be a big part of a weight loss diet.
“They’re especially helpful for people on the go who often choose unhealthy, high-calorie foods when in a hurry,” they say.
Point: Add vegetables to your smoothies to boost fiber and satiating nutrients while keeping your overall calorie intake low. They recommend their recipe for Blueberry Chai Protein Smoothie.
“It’s a great weight-loss snack because you get about 18 grams of satisfying protein in less than 200 calories, and it’s packed with helpful weight-loss ingredients,” they say. “The pea protein powder helps with weight loss even when calories are not restricted and are in fact more effective than whey protein in fighting hunger. The berries contain the phytochemical C3G, which increases fat metabolism and suppresses appetite. And the naturally sweet cinnamon stabilizes blood sugar and reduces body weight and belly fat, helping to prevent obesity.”
Drinking smoothies is an easy way to get lots of nutrients like fruit, healthy fats from nut butter, protein, and fiber in just one glass.
“The protein and fiber content of fruits and vegetables can help individuals feel fuller during the hours of consuming a smoothie,” Goodson says.
She recommends the following ingredients for a good weight loss smoothie:
- High quality protein such as cow’s milk, Greek yogurt, or protein powder
- 1-2 servings of fruit. A serving can be 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup chopped fruit, 1 cup berries, etc.
- A handful of greens such as spinach or kale to add fiber and nutrients
- 1 tablespoon healthy fat such as nut butter, chia seeds, or ground flax seeds
For more delicious smoothie recipes, pick up a copy of The 7-Day Smoothie Diet: Lose up to a pound a day and sip your way to a flat stomach!