Simple to prepare and easy to incorporate, smoothies are a great aid to anyone’s weight loss goals. Champneys’ Senior Nutritionist Becki Douglas gives us her tips for making nutrient-dense and low calorie smoothies that will help keep us full.
Smoothies are a great weight loss aid and, if balanced properly, can replace any meal or snack in a calorie-controlled diet while also increasing the nutrients that can help weight management too. Here are some dos and don’ts if you’re looking to shed pounds.
Watch the ratio of fruit to veg
One of the biggest mistakes people make when putting together a weight loss smoothie is loading it up with fruit. Although fresh fruits are healthy, nutritious foods that provide vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fibre, some fruits like bananas, pineapples and mangos contain high amounts of sugar and have a high glycaemic load – meaning your blood sugar levels will spike.They can contribute a lot of calories too, with the average supermarket-sized banana containing around 150 calories. If weight loss is your goal, look to have at least a 75:25 ratio of vegetables to fruit. Use low glycaemic, low calorie, low sugar fruit – grapefruits, prunes or dried apricots – and lots of green vegetables to pack your smoothies. Vegetables are not only good for fibre and antioxidants, but will help to keep the sugar content down too.
Bulk up your smoothie
What I mean by this is that it’s not always just about getting the smoothies as low calorie as possible. Instead, adding things like seeds can actually help your metabolism burn more calories and will fill you up so that you are less likely to snack on other things then as well. Adding a tablespoon of oats will only increase the smoothie by 40 calories, but it will keep you fuller for an hour or two longer than a smoothie without oats. But one of the best things to add is chia seeds, which, as well as performing the same role as oats (for only 60 additional calories), are also a good source of protein and essential fatty acids too.
Swap out the juice
Another way of cutting down on sugars and calories is through diluting any fruit juice you use, or swapping it out completely. By diluting a little fruit juice with water, you’ll get a hint of sweetness and vitamin C without having to add extra sugar in the form of honey. Alternatively, you could use something like coconut water – which can often cut about 70-80 calories per portion and help to reduce the sugar content by between 50-75 per cent. Another option is green or white tea instead of fruit juice, which both contain metabolism-supporting antioxidants.
Make a lighter choice
Choose fat-free over full fat for things like Greek yoghurt or unsweetened over natural almond milk, but even some foods that are naturally healthy should be limited if you’re looking to manage your weight. Although nutritionally beneficial, foods like cacao, almonds and avocados should all be limited because they are energy-dense and therefore are high in calories. So, for example, if you currently use a whole avocado, it might be an idea to use ¼ instead.