You drink smoothies to lose some pounds or maybe the morning after a midnight nacho bender. But if you think your delicious, fruit-packed kale shake is anything other than a green-colored Frosty, you could be deluding yourself. Most smoothies are ridiculously high in sugar—in fact, some can pack as many grams of the sweet stuff as are in two cans of Coke.
What's that? Your smoothie is made from only natural sugar found in fruit or honey? That's great, but the natural stuff will still send your blood-sugar levels sky-high, which we're betting is not exactly how you want to start your morning or end a great workout. Here, my six best tips to make a leaner, cleaner drink that still tastes fabulous, but doesn't have all the sugar of a commercial soda.
1. Rock a new base. Proper texture and consistency is key to a tasty smoothie, but adding two frozen bananas to your shake will also add at least 30 g of sugar. Instead, start with an avocado as your texture foundation—they're low in sugar but amazingly high in fiber, potassium, and healthy fat. A little frozen banana (think no more than half) is fine, too, or you can use a half of a pear with added ice cubes for better texture. Just avoid at all costs icy additives like frozen yogurt and ice cream, for obvious reasons.
2. Add more of this. The healthiest ingredient you can put in your smoothie are green vegetables like kale, spinach, collard greens, so make these the bulk of your healthy cocktail. You'll get less sugar by default and more antioxidants, fiber, and other vital nutrients.
3. Add less of this. Sure, fruit is healthy, but if you add tons of it to one shake, like many smoothie shops do, you'll rev up your sugar odometer into the red zone. Prioritize low-sugar picks like frozen berries, and use bananas, mangoes, and pineapple in moderation.
4. Make sure your milk says this. Unless you're using cow's milk, always choose an "unsweetened" non-dairy milk alternative like unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk for your smoothie. Don't be fooled by "plain" or "original" alt milks, which can still contain sweeteners. Better yet, blend your drink with unsweetened green tea or just water, both which have zero sugar.
5. Boost it without blowing it. Skip the sweetened protein powders, sugary yogurt, honey, and other add-ins and boost your smoothie with unsweetened protein powder (read to make sure it doesn't have artificial sugars), spirulina greens, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, raw nuts, carob powder, cocoa powder, lemon juice, matcha green tea powder, and/or bee pollen. If you like the probiotic kick of yogurt, add supplemental probiotic powder instead.
6. Don't double up. Put all this into one smoothie and you don't need to eat a meal, too. Smoothies can serve as full meals when they contain a good source of carbs like veggies and fruit, along with protein and fat from milk, nuts, avocado, and/or unsweetened protein powder.
In a blender, puree 2 cups packed baby spinach, 1 chopped Granny Smith apple, ¾ cup coconut water, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, 2 Tbsp hemp seeds, 2 to 3 tsp minced fresh ginger, 1 tsp raw honey, and 1½ cups ice cubes until smooth. Divide between 2 glasses and serve.
NUTRITION (per serving) 137 cal, 5 g pro, 22 g carb, 4 g fiber, 14 g sugars, 4.5 g fat, 0.5 g sat fat, 135 mg sodium
The article "Your Smoothie Is a Sugar Bomb. Here's How to Make It Healthy. " originally ran on EatClean.com.