Using Smoothies for Weight Loss
Future Fit Nutrition Tutor Becki Douglas gives us her tips for making nutrient-dense and low calorie smoothies that will help keep us full.
Simple to prepare and easy to incorporate, 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, apples, pears and berries– 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. 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 and unsweetened almond milk rather than the regular version which may contain added sugars. 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.
Lean Green Machine Smoothie Recipe
Calorie controlled low sugar smoothie at around 170 calories. A perfect breakfast to refresh and energise you for the day ahead.
- 1-2 cucumbers.
- handful of kale
- 5 fresh mint leaves
- a sprig of fresh parsley.
- 2 cm pieces fresh ginger.
- 1/4 avocado.
- 100ml coconut water.
- 100ml water
- juice of 1 lime
Add all ingredients to a blender along with a few ice cubes, and blend until smooth.
These additions will increase the essential fatty acid content plus fibre and protein to make it a more filling smoothie but they will also increase the calorie content by around 90kcal per serving if you include both.
- 1 teaspoon flaxseed oil
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
Zingy Citrus Slimmer Smoothie Recipe
Packed with antioxidants and fat fighting ingredients at around 190 calories. Great as a revitalising mid afternoon snack in place of your usual cuppa and some biscuits!
- 2 handfuls Spinach
- 1/2 pink or red Grapefruit
- ½ an Orange
- handful of frozen raspberries
- 1 tablespoon Chia Seeds
- 150ml cooled green tea
Choc-Cherry Cinna-Maca Packer!
A great ‘on the go’ breakfast at around 240 calories that will keep you flying until lunch! Delicious and creamy, plus full of metabolic boosting ingredients.
- ½ banana
- Handful of frozen cherries
- 100ml unsweetened almond milk
- 100ml water
- 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
- 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
- 1 tablespoon maca powder
- Pinch of chilli powder (or to taste if you want to pack a real punch!)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon