Healthy Smoothies for Weight Loss

BY Chantelle Zakariasen TIMEFebruary 22, 2015 PRINT

You may have caught on to the smoothie buzz that’s been humming in high frequency the last few years.

People everywhere are learning the usefulness of drinkable nutrition, and embracing the fact that smoothies are easy and nutritious.

Smoothies are adaptable, you can use what’s in season, add superfood or supplements, all with minimal prep work.

In a busy modern world, where we need the power of fruits and vegetables more than ever, smoothies are a hot commodity.

For those of us who feel we could be eating more raw foods, smoothies are a great place to start.

A powerful blender breaks down the cell walls of it’s vegetable or fruit contents, making them even easier to digest.

For anyone who may be experiencing digestive problems, this is an important fact to consider. Incorporating a nutrient dense combination of foods, even once a day, even a few times per week, can change the way you feel and function long term.

The smoothie habit is one worth getting into and sticking with if you want to start feeling great.

Green Smoothies vs. Fruit Smoothies

The buzz on green smoothies is noteworthy, and well deserved. Drinking your smoothie with an emphasis on greens is an easy way to bring more of the nutrient rich power foods into your diet.

I think everyone has a hard time eating 4-6 servings of vegetables every day, especially green leafy ones.

Yet the benefits of green foods are under appreciated, the amount of minerals in hardy greens like collards and kale are more than most other foods.

We can get these superfood into our life in an easy and delicious way when we just pop them into our smoothies.

The fibrous whole food greens will also help to regulate any blood sugar spikes  that the fruit may have caused.

Fruit smoothies aren’t necessarily bad, they’re better than say a milkshake from your favorite fast food joint.

However, there’s still a lot of sugar in fruit, and when your trying to heal your body, improve your energy and digestion, sugar isn’t your best friend.

Instead, you can still enjoy the benefits and tasty sweetness of your favorite fruits with a few green foods thrown in.

This will up the nutrition, alleviate the blood sugar roller coaster and probably lower the overall sugar dose you are getting in one sitting.

Ideally our smoothies should be a balance of about 70% greens and 30% fruit, just to give you an idea of the balance we’re after.

Work your way up to this if you’re not used to eating a lot of greens, start out with about 40% greens and 60% fruit and gradually add more greens.

Benefits of Drinking Your Nutrients

There’s no denying that we live in the age of business. This is often a good excuse for people to make really poor food choices.

When fast food is your only option,well, your certainly not going to let yourself starve. But you do starve, nutritionally when you choose sugar and refined carbohydrate foods as your main fuel.

Smoothies offer a convenient solution to this problem. Only about 9-14% of Americans are consuming the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day.

Only about 9-14% of Americans are consuming the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day.

You can make a green smoothie in under 5 minutes, stick it in a thermos and run out the door. Problem solved and you don’t have to eat donuts for breakfast ever again. 

Smoothies are easy to digest as the cell walls of the fruits and vegetables have been pulverized for your sipping pleasure.

The nutrients are easily assimilated and your organs don’t have to work very hard to process food that is free from common toxins.

This not only affects your digestion but also your energy levels and keeps you full and satisfied.

Daily Green Smoothie (Shutterstock)

Green Smoothie Recipe 

3/4 to 1lb. assorted greens- kale, chard, spinach, collards…

1 1/2 cup mixed frozen berries

1 banana

water to cover

Add all ingredients to your blender and puree until smooth, add more or less water to achieve your desired thickness.

Optional Additions

-hempseed or flax oil

-coconut oil

-ground flax or chia

-super foods

-protein powder

-almond butter

Smoothies with Fiber

When we choose smoothies over juices we get the natural plant fiber in an easy to digest form. Juices are great for a quick burst of energy, but they break down much faster than a smoothie containing the whole food.

This is important for blood sugar balance and proper digestion. There is a time and place for adhering to a juicing program, such as people who suffer from extreme digestive conditions which make them incapable of ingesting much fiber.

However for most people smoothies are really useful for getting things moving and consuming the whole food, not just the juice, has endless benefits.

Whole Foods in Smoothies

When we consume the whole food, we are ingesting it as it was meant to be ingested.

People can often develop problems with apple juice and drink it all day long without feeling “full”, but I don’t think you would eat apples all day long, how does 6 apples a day sound?

Smoothies are more filling and the nutrients take longer to assimilate than with a juice. They are better long term fuel and can actually save you a bit of money since you’ll need less fruits and vegetables to fill your cup.

Blood Sugar Response

The modern standard american diet puts us at great risk for developing problems like diabetes.

An excess of sugars and refined carbohydrates ridden of any speckle of nutrition is a recipe for blood sugar disaster. For many people this roller coaster starts off first thing in the morning.

After resting for ideally 8 hours, we wake up and start a cycle for the day, when we choose a waffle or a muffin with a tall glass of OJ or sweetened coffee, we give our bodies a very short term energy boost.

We’ve just ingested a lot of sugar and the energy we have from that won’t last very long, so we get a craving, eat more sugar and the cycle continues.

When we wake up and drink a green smoothie or eat a healthy breakfast packed with veggies and high quality protein, we set ourselves up to a different rhythm for the day. 

We’ll actually have long term energy because our blood sugar will not have spiked in the same way if it would if we had the sugar breakfast.

Just the simple addition of a fiber packed, nutrient filled morning green smoothie can save you an entire day of bad food choices.

For those of us who feel we could be eating more raw foods, smoothies are a great place to start. (Shutterstock)

Smoothies for Added Energy

Are there certain times during the day where you just feel totally drained? For many people that slump hits mid morning, and mid afternoon. This has to do with blood sugar balance and adrenal fatigue.

Our adrenals are the glands which produce important hormones that regulate our stress levels. When we are in stress mode more often than not, and consuming foods that add extra stress, our adrenals start to get zapped.

Having poor adrenal function makes us less adaptable and more susceptible to caving under the pressure of our daily stressors.

We do our adrenal glands and our overall mental and physical well being a huge favour when we incorporate nourishing smoothies into our daily life.

Adrenal glands need high levels of B-vitamins to function well, greens are loaded with b-vitamins. Magnesium is an important mineral for regulating stress and helping to keep the nervous system calm, dark leafy greens are amongst the highest magnesium containing foods in the plant kingdom.

The bottom line of why smoothies are so energizing, is it takes a lot of work to break down and absorb nutrients from our food, especially when they are laden with toxins and junk.

Incorporating easy to digest smoothies give our overworked organs a much needed break.

Smoothie Recipes for Any Ailment

Tweaking and adjusting your daily smoothie to suit you is what all the fun is about. There are so many amazing superfood additions that you can add to your smoothies to address various health concerns.

Below we’ll go over some super foods that you can add to your elixirs, but I also want to address some key points for creating smoothies to help common ailments.

Ideally our smoothies should be a balance of about 70% greens and 30% fruit

Smoothies for Diabetes

If your dealing with diabetes its important to keep the glycemic index low. This means no high sugar tropical fruits. Stick to apples, berries and citrus for your fruits and ample greens for the bulk of your smoothie.

Cinnamon is a naturally insulin regulating food, so adding a 1/2 tsp or so of cinnamon is useful.

The high fiber content will help regulate blood sugar levels, adding some protein powder from high quality whey protein or a scoop of almond butter is a good way to fend off sugar cravings.

Adrenal Fatigue Smoothies

Rebuilding the strength in your adrenal glands takes time, but you can accelerate it by focusing on certain elements in your smoothie.

Raw cacao is energizing but also incredibly high in magnesium, adding a tablespoon to your morning smoothie will boost your energy and soothe stress.

Coconut oil is useful for fighting adrenal fatigue and provides a nourishing source of long term energy. Herbs like rhodiola and ashwaganda which you can find at the health food store in tincture form are calming and stabilizing.

Instead of using water in your smoothies I recommend making a strong brew of nettle tea the night before, enough to last a few days, and including this infusion as your liquid of choice. Nettles are very high in minerals and important b-vitamins, key to healing adrenal exhaustion. 

Stimulating the metabolism with warming smoothie additions like cayenne and ginger (Shutterstock)

Lose Weight With Power Packed Smoothies

Stimulating the metabolism with warming smoothie additions like cayenne and ginger are great for boosting weight loss. Extra protein is useful if your trying to lose weight, try adding some high quality whey (sourced from grass fed cows) or a scoop of almond butter.

Ingredients for Heart Problems

Adding a source of omega-3 to your smoothies is vital if you have heart problems. You can achieve this through hemp seed oil, flax oil or fish oil, many fish oils are flavored and you can’t even tell they are fish.

Seek out a pure and high quality fish oil in liquid form such as arctic cod liver oil.

Adding some hawthorne tincture is also beneficial and raw cacao has been shown to have heart healthy compounds.

Improve Digestion

If you suffer form digestive problems it may be best to use greens with lower fiber content, ex. instead of kale use spinach. Additions like aloe vera juice, fresh mint, fresh ginger and inulin are very soothing to the digestive tract.

Reduce Inflammation

Chronic inflammation can manifest in a variety of ways, often joint pain is a good indicator. Try adding fresh or powdered turmeric root to your smoothies as its been shown to alleviate inflammation. Cayenne is also useful for this condition. Many inflammatory conditions are made worse by an overly acidic diet, just adding in a green smoothie may help lower inflammation all by itself.

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