Smoothies can get a bad rap as being high in sugar, excess calories and refined carbs, meaning they lack fiber. Plus, many tend to be lower in protein and healthy fats, both of which can keep you fuller longer and keep energy levels balanced.
To be fair, if you order a smoothie from a chain or restaurant when on the go, it will likely have more calories and sugar than is desired. So, your best bet is to avoid a sugar bomb that’s masking as a healthy meal or snack and to blend your own smoothie concoction at home.
A rule of thumb? Keep sugar in check by picking one or two sweet ingredients (and servings), and then bulk up the nutrition with other vitamins and minerals, as well as fat, fiber and protein. Fat provides that rich, creamy consistency to induce satiety for hours after, plus it’ll benefit your overall health, too.
The right kind of fat matters though, since heart-healthy fats, such as unsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids, are the ones that lower inflammation and risk for disease. So, take note to consume most of your fat intake from those kinds of sources. Here are a couple of options, all of which taste great and still provide excellent fuel.
Make it Creamy with Avocado
Avocado is an all around favorite when it comes to green fruit—hello, avocado toast. However, it also works well in smoothies too, and it’ll give your drink a silky texture while also increasing the fat content so you feel fuller for longer.
Plus, avocado also has electrolytes, like magnesium and potassium, which makes it a post-workout recovery superfood in replenishing lost electrolyte and nutrient stores and strengthening muscles. It tastes great with most foods, like chocolate, spices, vanilla protein powder, nut butter, and chia seeds, so have some fun experimenting with avocado at home.
Nuts are high in unsaturated fats, so keeping almonds, pistachios, pecans, walnuts and cashews at home for smoothie recipes is easy, affordable and helpful in providing quick fat content. You can choose peanut butter too, although peanuts are technically a legume, for a good dose of protein and potassium too. (Peanut butter is also an electrolyte by nature.) What’s more, walnuts have omega-3 fats, which are best for lowering inflammation and protecting the heart.
Create Texture With Seeds
Seeds offer crunch and are a nice source of fats, magnesium, fiber and even some plant-based protein. Chia seeds and hemp seeds are two kinds that are especially high in fiber and are more dense in texture, where they’ll really bulk up the smoothie but off of fewer needed ingredients.
Plus, chia seeds have those omega-3 fats too. Pumpkin seeds will also provide good fat and fiber—pumpkin spice season has already begun, so try making a pumpkin spice flavored protein smoothie at home as a fun way to indulge in the season’s greatest ingredients and spices.
Enjoy Coconut Oil and Coconut Milk in Moderation
While coconuts do contain saturated fat, MCT fats and most notably lauric acid, as opposed to unsaturated fats, they are still beneficial for improving cognition and brain health, promoting fat burning and ketosis and are enhancing satiety for longer.
The key is to eat saturated fats in moderation, where you can enjoy all the rewards without increasing your risk of heart disease, high cholesterol and stroke or unintended weight gain. (Fat has more calories per gram than protein and carbohydrates.)
Coconut oil is known as a good addition for smoothies and coffees because it’s rich in brain-boosting MCT fats, which can wake the mind up in the a.m. and keep you alert during that afternoon slump. And coconut milk tastes delicious in a latte or cappuccino, as well as in a smoothie with spices and vanilla.