How To Make Your Smoothie Healthier

Smoothies are often seen as an easy way to pack more vitamins, minerals, protein and fibre into your diet. But they can often be calorie-bombs laden with sugar. From the importance of protein, to low-carb swaps, here three nutritional experts explain how to get it right.

Get The Balance Right

“Nutritional needs are so individual and usually depend on how active you are, but if you’re having a smoothie as a snack, stick to a balanced amount of protein, fats and carbs – half a banana, some nut butter and protein powder is a good start. After a workout, focus on protein and carbs only, and if you’re trying to keep your calories low, then pile in green veggies like kale or spinach as they bulk out the smoothie but only add minimal calories. In general, try one fruit, one vegetable and one protein-rich ingredient as a baseline, switching up your fruit depending on your carb requirements, e.g. swapping banana for watermelon if you are on a low-carb regime. When you're making your smoothie be mindful of why you're making it – a smoothie post-boxing class should be much higher in carbohydrates and calories than one you make to keep you going through an afternoon at the office.” – Gabriela Peacock, nutritionist and founder of GP Nutrition

Don’t Overdo It

“People can rely on smoothies too much as meal replacements, forgetting that liquids still contain calories. One balanced smoothie per day is fine, but it’s important to keep solid meals in your diet, too. Blending reduces the amount of fibre you get from the food source, and fibre is important for keeping you full and maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. Blending also makes it really easy to overconsume, and to do so quickly.” – Gabriela 

Don’t Forget The Protein

“The most common mistake people make when it comes to smoothies is forgetting a source of protein. So often, people fill up on fruit and liquid without adding protein or fat, meaning the fruit sugars are released into the blood very quickly. If you add a source of protein, this will keep things on an even keel, providing sustained energy for three to four hours.” – Yasmin Alexander, nutritional therapist

Consider The Calories

“If you’re trying to lose weight, aim for a smoothie that contains somewhere between 300-500 calories, but note this would be a smoothie to replace a meal, not alongside it. If it’s a snack, adapt the calories depending on your total daily goal and what you’re consuming at your main meals. A good source of protein is key – my dad sometimes adds a raw egg or two into his smoothie – as is a source of healthy fats. Half an avocado, a tablespoon of MCT oil, a small handful of unroasted nuts or seeds are all good options to guarantee your smoothie is filling.” – Kim Pearson, nutritionist

Make It A Treat

“There are so many ways to make your smoothie taste indulgent. My top tips include using frozen fruit or adding ice as this creates a thicker texture. Adding some healthy fats such as some avocado or coconut milk also adds extra creaminess and a delicious texture. Also, try adding some raw cacao powder, as this can create an intense chocolate flavour whilst packing in the magnesium, an essential mineral.” – Yasmin 

Think Outside The Box

“You don’t have to rely on protein powder to boost the protein intake of your smoothie. You could opt for 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter, containing 4g of protein, a handful of almonds, containing 6g of protein, 50g of Greek yoghurt, containing 5g of protein, 200ml of whole milk, containing 7g of protein, 20g of flaxseed containing 4.4g of protein or 15g of chia seeds, containing 3.6g of protein.” – Yasmin 

Try Going Low-Sugar

“Smoothies can be made to cater for low-sugar and low-carb diets by including fruits naturally lower in sugar such as blueberries and raspberries, and vegetables such as spinach. They can be blended with a plant-based milk such as unsweetened almond milk or water. The fruit will naturally sweeten the smoothie, so avoid adding added sugar in the form of maple syrup, honey or sugars added to milks or protein powders.” – Yasmin 

… But Don’t Discount Bananas

“Bananas certainly do add carbohydrates to your diet, but they also contain lots of other fantastic nutrients, too. Adding a banana to a smoothie after a workout is a great way to replenish your potassium levels and make sure you're refuelling your glycogen stores. Dates are delicious and add a sweet kick too; if you want to add them to your smoothie just be aware they do contain a relatively high amount of natural sugars so try to balance it out with fibrous and protein rich ingredients.” - Gabriela

Use Your Freezer

“Using frozen fruit, vegetables or frozen milk in ice cubes is a great way to ensure your smoothie is ice cold and helps to create a thicker and more luxurious texture. A top tip is to buy frozen spinach and simply add in a ball or two to your smoothies for a nutrient boost without compromising on flavour. But do make sure you blitz your smoothie for long enough to ensure the frozen ingredients get fully liquidised. My favourite smoothie is a base of spinach and one frozen cauliflower floret, with lots of blueberries or blackberries, half a frozen banana, some vanilla protein powder, oat milk, chia seeds and peanut butter. Also try adding honeydew melon, which makes a smoothie taste really refreshing.” – Yasmin 

Do Some Research

“Don’t be afraid to mix it up and experiment with different flavours – courgettes, for example, are a great way to add in a portion of vegetables, adding texture and fibre to your smoothie. I also recently spied a recipe for a keto pumpkin spice smoothie, which I can’t wait to try once autumn is here. In the meantime, my go-to smoothie recipe is one handful of frozen mixed berries and half a medium courgette, half an avocado (you can use frozen or fresh), two scoops of FreeSoul Vegan Berry protein powder, and a teaspoon of Bioglan superberries powder mixed with water and Plenish Almond Milk.” – Kim 

 

For more information visit Kim-Pearson.com, GPNutrition.com and NutritionByYasmin.com
 

Kick-start your day with these expert-approved smoothie additions…

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