Have you ever heard the phrase “if you want something done right, do it yourself”? Well this phrase applies to healthy smoothies, and we’ll tell you why!
Most smoothies you purchase at the store claim they are extremely healthy, but when we take a closer look we see that is not always the case. A lot of times, to make the smoothie delicious enough to have you come back and buy it again, these store-bought smoothies contain way too much sugar or sugar additives. And even if the smoothie is filled with fresh fruit, and the sugars all stem from fruits, doesn’t mean it’s healthy or beneficial to you to consume all that sugar, whether it’s natural or artificial!
They can also be just too large of a portion size, and you’ll find yourself consuming more calories than you need to. If you’re counting calories in order to lose weight, purchasing these types of smoothies at the store can be detrimental to your weight loss journey.
If you want a healthy, balanced smoothie make it at home! If you want to know exactly what is in your smoothie, and how much of it… make it yourself! We promise it’s not too hard, and you’ll be glad you did. Here are 7 ways to make a healthy smoothie at home.
1. You need a base ingredient; choose the right one for you.
The first thing you need to think about is the base ingredient for your smoothie. Think about what you want out of your smoothie. Do you prefer a dairy based smoothie, or dairy free? If you’re choosing a dairy based smoothie, make sure your choose the healthiest dairy option available to you. Use the lowest fat versions of yogurt or milk for your smoothie base. If you’re opting for a dairy free option, you should also find the healthiest soy option.
There are dairy alternatives you can use, too. The biggest thing to focus on with this is the amount of sugar your base consists of. You may use a fruit juice, but be aware that juice can be filled with lots of sugar. Make sure you choose a 100% juice option that contains no added sugars.
Mixing and matching your base ingredient is fine, too. For instance, you can use 1/2 fruit juice and 1/2 ice for your smoothie, and that’ll decrease the sugar and calories. You can use a low fat milk and yogurt together, too.
2. Try not to add extra sweeteners as tempting as it may be
Naturally, fruit is full of sugars. If you’re making a smoothie mostly made up of fruit, remember that you do not need to add any additional sugars to it. For example, if you’re using a yogurt base make sure it doesn’t have an added sugars. Avoid using ice cream or frozen yogurt as your smoothie base. And pay attention to other natural items you’re adding. For example, honey is a great natural sweetener but can contain just as many calories as sugar.
3. Add a protein powder
If your goal is to gain muscle and lose fat, adding protein to your home-made smoothie is a must. There are different types of protein powders on the market, so we’ll take a look at what’s right for you.
Whey protein, which is a derivative of milk, is quickly digested and is popular for people that are trying to build muscle fast because it stimulates muscle synthesis. For those that are allergic to milk, egg white protein powder is a wonderful alternative. Finally, soy protein is a great option for everyone, but especially vegetarians. Soy protein helps stimulate muscle growth, while simultaneously lowering your cholesterol.
So how much protein powder do you add to your smoothie? No more than 30 grams of protein is necessary. In fact, anything over 30 grams is not beneficial, and adds nothing more to your muscle building.
4. Use natural flavors in your smoothie
The store bought smoothies often contain sugary syrups which are designed to taste like fruit. This artificial flavor is worthless nutritionally, and adds extra calories and sugars where they are not necessary. There is no reason why you should need artificial flavors in your smoothies at all. Fresh fruit is usually inexpensive and contains natural sugars, making your smoothie delicious without all that extra. When your favorite fruit is out of season, make sure you have some frozen from when it was in season. Fruits freeze super well, and taste great for up to 18 months before losing quality in taste.
5. Choose a smoothie thickener
Obviously if your smoothie is not thick, it is basically a juice. It’s important to choose healthy thickening ingredients in your smoothie to keep it healthy. Bananas are an amazing choice for a thickener, and if you have frozen fruits in your freezer from last season, they’ll help thicken your smoothie, too. Avocado is a great thickener also.
Now, what you need to stay away from are things like full fat yogurt, frozen yogurt, and ice cream. All these just contain way too much sugar and added calories you don’t need.
6. Add fiber & nutrients
If your smoothie is fruit based, that’s great because fruits are high in fiber on their own. But if you need to add more fiber, there’s no reason not to! Fiber is excellent as an appetite controller because it helps to fill you up. Fiber is also healthy for your heart. You can add cereal, oats, nuts and seeds to your smoothie for that extra fiber boost. Now, foods containing a lot of fiber can also be high in calories, so limit the extra fiber for your breakfast smoothies, or your post-workout smoothies.
The fruits in your smoothie are full of vitamins and minerals, but adding additional nutrients to your smoothie only makes it healthier and better. Avocado and nut butters are so good for your heart, offering nutritious fats. If you’re a chocolate lover (who isn’t?) unsweetened cocoa powder is full of antioxidants, and will give your smoothie an amazing taste. Spinach and kale are full of nutrients, and perfect additions for a green smoothie.
7. Portion size is crucial
OK smoothies are so easy to drink, and that’s where you need to be careful! Because smoothies pack such a huge amount of calories, think about what you’re actually consuming when you blend it all. It may not look like a lot once it’s in your glass, but remember everything you’ve added. Odds are, you wouldn’t eat three bananas, 1 cup of oats, a whole avocado, and two glasses of milk in one sitting. So make sure you watch how big your smoothie portions are!