Smoothies can be a great addition to a healthy diet and even help you lose weight. Or they can turn into nothing more than a milkshake that should be considered a rare treat. What’s the difference? Mainly the amount of sugar you include in your smoothie.
The Hidden Sugar
Let’s say you start out with a cup of low fat vanilla flavoured yogurt. (34g carbs, 34g of sugar). Then you add a banana (27g carbs, 14g sugar), 1 cup of strawberries (12g carbs, 7g sugar), and 1 cup orange juice (26g carbs, 20g sugar). That’s a total of 75g of sugar in something that sounds like a fairly healthy smoothie, doesn’t it? That’s roughly the same amount of sugar (and carbs) as a small chocolate milkshake at McDonalds. Whoa!
Yes, you’re getting some vitamins and nutrients and this smoothie is certainly better for you than a chocolate milkshake, but it isn’t going to help you lose weight, and you’d do better with a smoothie that has less sugar in it.
Trade for Low Calorie Smoothie Ingredients
The first thing I want you to notice is that most of the sugar is coming from the vanilla flavoured yogurt and the orange juice. What if you switched the yogurt for plain Greek yogurt and used water instead of orange juice. The yogurt has 7g of carbs, all of them sugar. Making those two simple substitutions takes us from 75g of sugar to 28g of sugar. That’s a big difference and you end up with a much healthier smoothie that will keep you full longer.
Low Calorie Smoothies for Weight Loss
What can you do to make sure you end up with a healthy smoothie that’s good for you and not loaded with added sugar? Start by
- Checking all ingredients for sugar
- Staying away from yogurts, juices and other add-ons that include sugar. That alone will limit your sugar intake. Greek or plain yogurt may have less sugar than vanilla or other kinds of yogurts.
- Limiting the amount of fruit, high sugar fruits like bananas, grapes and the likes in particular that you put in your smoothie.
- Choosing low-sugar fruits like berries instead.
- Using water or coconut water or even whole milk to thin out your smoothies instead of juice.
- Adding lots of leafy greens to up the nutritional value and fiber content.
If you’re looking for a creamy smoothie, try adding an avocado. It works in even the sweetest smoothies and gives it a delicious smooth texture, while adding healthy fat that will keep you full longer.
Ice is a great way to thicken your smoothies without adding extra calories. The water will fill you up too, so you eat less. If you find you need a little extra sweetness in your smoothie, add a bit of stevia, a natural non-calorie sweetener, instead of adding more fruit or sugar.
These little tweaks can ensure that you end up with healthy smoothies that are good for you and low calorie to help you reach your weight loss goals.