Let’s face it. Some days spending time in the kitchen seems like a real chore or even a total bore! Unfortunately, when you are trying to meet your protein needs, some of the best sources of protein will require some form of preparation.
Whether it is slicing and dicing your seasoned chicken breast, or grilling up a juicy steak, utilizing a protein shake or smoothie in place of this can be easy and convenient – even a “no brainer” – when you just want something simple and satisfying.
However, just because making a protein shake or smoothie is easy, quick, and convenient, doesn’t mean it is free from drawbacks and potential concerns when you are trying to manage your weight. You see, not all smoothies and shakes are created equally.
While almost all of the coaches on our team encourage smoothies and shakes once or twice daily, depending on your programming and progress, we all also recognize that shakes and smoothies aren’t a magical solution for weight loss or shape change.
If you suspect that your daily shakes or smoothies are causing you to gain weight, rather than helping you to lose weight, you’ll want to continue reading. And check out this YouTube video from Bella, our Lead Nutritionist, and Recipe Developer.
Until you have a chance to check that out, let’s review some of the more common smoothie mistakes that may be halting your progress.
- Are you adding some form or protein? Protein is a key macronutrient when it comes to satiation – that feeling of being full for hours to come. In addtion, it can help with building and maintaining muscle mass, and keeping your metabolism flexible and strong. If you find yourself hungry after drinking a shake or smoothie, consider the protein content.
It might be helpful to add about 20-30 grams of protein to your shake or smoothie recipe. This doesn’t have to be done with a protein powder alone. Protein powders (whey or vegan) can help boost the total protein content; however, some additions like spinach, hemp, or chia seeds will also add to the protein content.
- If you are using protein in your shakes or smoothies, what is the source of your protein? It is fine to use a vegan or vegetarian-friendly protein powder, or even a real whole food source, if you aren’t a fan of whey or can’t use it due to a sensitivity or intolerance.
Keep in mind that some protein powders are defined as a “ complete meal replacement”. Others are merely a way to supplement protein into your diet as a snack or mini-meal. If you are adding non-dairy milk, healthy fat, fruits, and/or lower glycemic carbohydrates to your “complete meal replacement”, then chances are you are getting in more calories than you need for that snack or meal.
If you are choosing more of a supplemental protein, watch for added sugars and high carbohydrate-based protein powders. We recommend finding a protein powder, such as our Metabolic Super Protein, or something similar which is a lower sugar, higher quality protein. It is also free from a bunch of artificial additives, chemicals, and flavorings.
- Are you adding an additional source of sweetener to your shakes or smoothies? While sweeteners like honey, or agave may taste delicious, they probably aren’t a necessary or beneficial addition to your smoothie or shake.
Protein powders can help eliminate or reduce cravings; however, when adding additional sugar to your shake or smoothie, you may actually notice that your cravings increase. Higher sugar smoothies or shakes may make you feel less satisfied throughout the day. Not to mention, the average individual consumes far too much sugar in a day. Although a shake or smoothie can be just as delicious as a milkshake, we aren’t trying to add sugar bombs into your day!
What about fruit as a natural form of sugar? If you are adding in a form of fruit to your smoothie as a way to enhance its sweetness, adding more natural sugar still isn’t always the best option. Just because fruit is “healthy” doesn’t mean it can be added to your diet in unlimited amounts.
The intention here isn’t to demonize fruit, but rather make you aware of how it is adding additional calories, in the form of sugar, to your shake or smoothie. The best way to manage your calories, while keeping your hunger in check is to use fruit in moderation. When adding fruit, consider a lower glycemic option such as berries, which are a super source of fiber and antioxidants too!
- Are you adding in enough fiber and healthy fat? Adding the right amount of fiber and healthy fats to your smoothies and shakes helps to keep your hunger, energy, and cravings in check throughout the day. What is the right amount? Listen to your body and use your detective skills to find the right amount for you!
If your hunger, energy, and cravings are more stable and predictable within 1-2 hours of eating, you are in good shape. If you find the opposite to be true, try adding a little more fiber and healthy fat to your shake. For most, adding in 5-10 grams of fiber, and/or 5-10 grams of healthy fats to your smoothie will help, but this is merely an estimate.
Some of your healthy fats will add fiber at the same time, too. Things like avocado, flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are easy to find at most health food stores and supermarkets. Most seeds (in whole or ground form) are easy to sprinkle on top of your shake or smoothie – or added to the mix while blending if you prefer.
Now that you’ve learned how to tweak your smoothies and shakes to support your health goals, are you going to do some experimenting with your own recipes?
Look for some future blog posts on things like reading labels, choosing a plant-based protein powder and/or natural food sources to help support your protein needs, and how to make adjustments to your daily diet to increase your consumption of fiber and healthy fats.
If you are in need of delicious recipe ideas, you can browse our YouTube channel per the link shared above or head to our blog. Let us know in the comments below what you’ve found most helpful about this topic or what you’ve learned through this post or YouTube video!