Green smoothies are one of my favorite things to eat each day, but if you’re consuming a green smoothie for weight loss, there are some things you should know. The great thing about smoothies is you can use them to lose, maintain or gain weight, depending on what you put in them. Many people start out the day with a green smoothie and throw all kinds of things in it and wonder why they’re gaining weight drinking a green drink. Or, they might follow a green smoothie plan that doesn’t work best for their body, blood sugar and metabolism. If you’re looking to drink a green smoothie for weight loss, avoid including the following items so you don’t ruin all your hard efforts. There are much better options, and I”ll show you what those are too!
1. Peanut Butter
Oh, how I love peanut butter, but if you’re adding it to a green smoothie for weight loss, you’re fighting an uphill battle sister! Peanut butter contains 190 calories in just two measly tablespoons. A better option? Opt for non-GMO, defatted peanut flour by Protein Plus brand. Unlike the popular PB2, another defatted peanut flour, Protein Plus peanut flour has no added sugar or salt. And, for one tablespoon of rich peanut flour that is amazing, let me tell you, you’re getting 1 gram of fat, 4 grams of protein, and 1 gram of fiber for only 30 calories. You can’t even tell the difference in a smoothie, I promise and it’s my favorite way to make my green smoothie taste like a peanut butter cookie! A little goes a long way, trust me!
2. Almond Butter
Another wonderful healthy food for you is almond butter, but it’s much better to eat 1 tbsp. almond butter either with your meals, than to drink those calories in a green smoothie. If you do choose almond butter, always choose raw versions, not roasted, which are better for weight loss in general, and usually free of salts and sugars. Almond butter is excellent for you, but keep your green smoothies lower in calories by just topping it with 2-3 almonds instead. Then you’ll get to chew the almonds and you’ll get more fiber and satisfying crunch from the yummy toppings. Again, always choose raw, unsalted almonds instead of roasted.
I’m a huge fan of coconut oil, but I’m not big on adding oils to smoothies. Drinking your calories means your body has to work much less to digest those calories, which means your metabolism doesn’t have to work as hard. Instead of drinking your smoothie with oils like coconut (which I hope is the only kind you would add to a smoothie anyway), use coconut oil or even hemp oil to cook with, or to drizzle on salads in small amounts. Eating your calories is a much better way to lose weight than drinking them.
4. Fruit Heavy
When you make a green smoothie, remember it’s called a green smoothie, not a fruit smoothie, for a reason. Green smoothies often have 2-3 fruits and a small amount of greens, when really, we should be flip-flopping that equation. Instead of using lots of fruit, which are high in the sugar fructose, use more greens and a healthy sweetener like stevia, or ½ cup plain frozen berries which add a natural sweetness. Vanilla extract can also help sweeten a smoothie without sugar. Fruits, though they are healthy for you, are incredibly high in fructose. Your body, specifically the liver, can only process and digest so much fructose at a time, without having to store the rest as fat. Yes, that’s right - fruit can actually make you gain weight if you eat too much, and drinking it is even worse. I always suggest using around ½ cup fruit if any, and 3 cups greens in your smoothie. One trick that I like to use is to freeze almond milk cubes ( unsweetened) and they help thicken a green smoothie just like fruit, but without the sugar. Frozen cucumbers are also an excellent replacement for frozen bananas, lower in sugar, and have a delicious, sweet uplifting taste when frozen. Try it!
5. Coconut Milk
I know I might get some arguments on this, but hear me out. I love coconut with all my heart! I eat it daily, in several different ways, but I’m here to tell you, coconut milk in smoothies is not the best way to consume coconut milk for weight loss. Coconut milk, if not raw and fresh, is highly processed, and it has tons of additives that have even been linked to poor digestion. Most also have sources of sugar included in them, and the fats aren’t near as beneficial to you as using whole shredded coconut would be. If you want a coconut taste to your smoothies, include real coconut that still has the fiber and raw nutrients in tact, or by using 1 tbsp. raw shredded unsweetened coconut. It’s a great way to get the flavor, with all the natural benefits of coconut, without the highly processed ingredients. Then, just add water for the rest of your liquid.
6. Sweetened Almond Milk
Another thing to avoid in your green smoothies is sweetened almond milk, especially those tasty new coffee flavored ones. I don’t understand why those don’t come in an unsweetened version, but oh well, I digress. Unsweetened almond milk is a perfectly safe drink to put in your smoothie though. Yes, it is processed, but if you choose a good brand, you can find unsweetened almond milk for only around 30-40 calories, and these forms will have no carrageenan, soy, dairy, lactose, or gluten. They’ll also be GMO free and free of gums that irritate digestion. The only two brands I have found to be this clean are Silk Pure Unsweetened Almond in both plain and vanilla unsweetened and Whole Foods 365 Organic Unsweetened Almond milk. Both of these are excellent to use in smoothies, but their sweetened or more processed counterparts are not.
Yes, I know, honey is so great for you, right? Yes, honey is a superfood, but you shouldn’t be drinking your honey. It's a lot of calories for such a small amount, and a lot of sugar. Sixteen grams per tablespoon to be exact, with absolutely no fiber and more than likely, you won’t even taste it that much once you use the other ingredients in your smoothie. If you want to consume honey, you need to be very sparing with it if you’re looking to lose weight, especially in smoothies. Use stevia instead, or unsweetened berries.
8. Full Fat Yogurt
I like to use a little nonfat, organic Greek yogurt in my smoothies, but whatever you do, don’t use full fat. Using full fat dairy is a terrible idea anyway. It has cholesterol, saturated fats from animals, and it can really make you gain weight quickly. It’s like adding ice cream to your smoothies! If you want to use yogurt, great! But be sure you choose unsweetened, and low fat or fat-free versions instead, free of sugar, fruits and artificial sweeteners.
9. Sugar-filled Protein Powder
I like to use a raw, organic and gluten-free protein powder in my smoothies, that’s just about as clean as you can get. It’s Sunwarrior Protein Warrior Blend and Garden of Life Raw Meal is another excellent one to try. However, whatever you do, don’t choose high sugar protein powders. Most won’t tell you they contain sugar and will most likely claim to be healthy. Read the label and the ingredients. Be sure you know what forms of sugar exist so you can know what to recognize on the label. Evaporated cane syrup, brown rice syrup, coconut sugar, palm sugar, date sugar,honey, molasses and fructose are often found in protein powders and all of these are sources of processed sugar. Avoid them and go with the good stuff instead.
Drinking green smoothies is actually a great way to lose weight, but do it the smart way. If you want some of my favorite recipes, you can find them on All Women Stalk or my blog at thesoulfulspoon.com. What’s your favorite green smoothie ingredient for weight loss, or for health?