How to make healthy smoothies and shakes for weight loss
Though there are dozens of weight loss shakes and smoothies on the market, ready-to-drink, you can make your own tasty blended treat. Shakes, derived from the classic ‘milkshake,’ usually do not contain fruit but include dairy products (ice cream) and have been around for decades. Smoothies were introduced to the U.S. market in the late 1960s. They first appeared at health food stores and the target market was health-conscious individuals. A smoothie is a cold, sweet, blended beverage (milkshake-like consistency) made from fresh or frozen fruit, fruit juices, milk and/or yogurt and other ingredients.
How are the weight loss shakes and smoothies I make at home healthy?
They are healthy because you control the ingredients, thus, the caloric content. For weight loss, you must create a calorie deficit, or expend more calories than you consume. Replacing a meal with a filling beverage is one way to cut calories. Depending upon the ingredients in a shake or smoothie, it can be a good source of vitamins, carbohydrates, protein and minerals, such as calcium. By avoiding recipes that call for fruit juices and frozen yogurt, you can avoid high-calorie, high-sugar ‘traps.’
Am I coming up short on protein by making a weight loss shake or smoothie at home? Do I need to use a protein powder?
Weight loss shakes and smoothies prepared at home should be protein-rich. While you may use a commercial protein powder, it can add calories and many contain sugar. Look for plain soy or whey protein powders (if you wish) without sweeteners/flavorings. However, you do not have to use protein powder. Healthy weight loss shakes and smoothies are balanced, like a meal, offering an ideal ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fat. The possibilities for adding protein to your blended beverage are endless. Some options include cow’s milk, yogurt, soy milk/tofu or soy yogurt, powdered milk and peanut butter (great blended with milk and frozen banana chunks). Add a protein-rich ingredient to your weight loss shake or smoothie. Otherwise you will not feel full for long…defeating the purpose.
What ingredients should I have on hand? What are the components of a weight loss shake or smoothie?
In addition to protein, add carbohydrate-rich foods and ‘healthy fats.’ If you are not using soy/tofu or nut butter, consider adding ground flaxseed or wheat germ. These are nutrient-dense, high-fiber foods. Though exact ingredients will vary according to the recipe, in addition to the ground flaxseed/wheat germ, make sure you have liquid; such as 100% fruit juice (used in small quantities) and/or milk. Always have fresh and frozen fruits on hand. Using frozen fruits (and freezing peeled banana chunks) gives your smoothie a thick, creamy consistency without the ice. If you like ‘sweet’ smoothies, you may want to add a bit of honey, sugar or artificial sweetener.
What if I cannot tolerate dairy products?
There are plenty of options for substitutes if you do not wish to use dairy products or have a dairy intolerance. In place of cow’s milk, try light coconut milk, almond, soy or rice milk (be aware that almond and rice milk are low in protein). Most of these milk alternatives also come in powdered form. In place of regular yogurt you can try pureed silken tofu or soy yogurt.
What about vegetables?
‘Green’ smoothies are a hot trend and typically contain green vegetables. To make these smooth and creamy, you need a very high-powered blender. If you have one, there are many delicious recipes you can try. Raw vegetables are fibrous and your general (everyday) blender is unlikely to be able to stand up to these heartier ingredients. However, you can make a delicious smoothie with avocado…a heart healthy, satisfying green fruit.
How many calories should a weight loss shake or smoothie contain?
It depends upon whether you are drinking them in place of a meal or for a snack. If it is to replace a meal, keep the calorie content between 300 and 400 calories. If it is a snack, limit calories to 200. The protein content should be similar to a meal/snack. Add a protein component to your shake or smoothie and/or look for recipes that offer at least 10 g per serving.
Weight loss smoothie recipes
Berry-banana flax seed smoothie (serves 1)
½ of a medium-sized banana
½ cup frozen, unsweetened mixed berries
1½ cups light vanilla soy milk
1 Tbsp ground flax seed
Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Per serving: 313 calories, 14 g protein, 9.5 g fat (mostly unsaturated), 45 g carbohydrates, 7 g dietary fiber, 190 mg sodium and 0 mg cholesterol. This smoothie is high in vitamin C, iron, magnesium, manganese and selenium.
Avocado smoothie (serves 2)
1 avocado, without skin (pitted and cubed)
1 cup 1% milk
½ cup light vanilla Greek yogurt (higher in protein than conventional yogurt)
2 Tbsp honey
1 cup ice
Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Per serving: 303 calories, 10 g protein, 16 g fat (mostly monounsaturated), 37 g carbohydrates, 7 g dietary fiber, 91 mg sodium and 7 mg cholesterol. This smoothie is high in calcium, vitamins A, C and other nutrients.