Smoothies for Weight Loss: Slim Down with These Recipes
Did you know that drinking a single can of soda can add up to a whopping 150 calories in just a few gulps? 1 Most of these calories are what nutritionists call “empty calories”. They are high in sugars, fats, alcohol, and have no nutritional value. Take a Starbucks Frappuccino for instance, which can range from 300 to 500 calories. While yummy, these drinks are lacking nutrients like vitamins, minerals and proteins. It's packed with sugars that could spike the blood sugar levels and sabotage our waistlines. The foods and drinks you consume have a significant effect on your weight and health. Which is why health fanatics are telling people to drink smoothies instead.
Can You Lose Weight Drinking Smoothies?
The short answer is yes. You can definitely lose weight drinking healthy smoothies. Actually, with a simple click of a button, smoothies can be a secret weapon for weight loss. They’re easy-to-make and are a quick-meal solution for people who are usually pressed for time. The idea behind a smoothie diet is to create a calorie deficit in your body. Here's how it works: When a person eats more calories than they burn each day, they gain weight. If that person burns more calories than they consumed on a daily basis, they lose weight. That's the goal of a smoothie diet.
How to Start A Smoothie Diet Weight Loss Plan?
Like any weight-loss method, including restrictive diets like this one, details are important. You don't want to load your smoothie with added sugars and flavors, and whipped cream. If you did that, it would be no different than that Starbucks latte. You want to think of healthy smoothie options. Smoothies can help you lose weight but ingredients and serving sizes matter. Blending up a fat-burning smoothie largely depends on the ingredients you put in it.
One of the first things to consider when starting a smoothie weight loss plan is to define your daily energy requirements (DER). Since your smoothie will count towards your daily caloric intake, it's important that you get all the essential nutrients in every sip. You can determine your daily energy needs e by using an online DER calculator. You can also meet with a dietician to determine how many calories you need to consume daily to meet your goals. The typical adult female needs 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day and the average adult male needs 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day2. Your age, activity level, and health conditions are also a factor in how many calories you need to consume.
What Foods Should I Add to My Smoothies?
The classic weight loss smoothie is approximately 300 calories or less per serving. It's also loaded with antioxidant-rich foods – berries, fresh fruits and veggies. You can customize the blend with protein and oat powders, or healthy nuts and seeds to fit your nutritional needs. Choose foods with high nutrition values like the ones listed below to attain quicker weight loss.
- Coconut oil
- Chia Seeds
- Flax Seeds
These tiny powerhouse foods pack a powerful punch because they're full of antioxidants. When you consume foods that are high in antioxidants like vitamins C or E, you enable your genes that are responsible for burning fat 3,4. Strawberries are definitely one of those foods. They're loaded with vitamins and polyphenols that can stop the formation of fat in the body.
Here are a few recipes to get you started:
5 Best Smoothies Recipes for Weight Loss
RECIPE: Fresh Off The Oat Smoothie
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/3 frozen banana
2 tablespoons rolled oats, cooked
2 teaspoons almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop plain plant-based protein powder
Water to blend (optional but recommended)
271 calories, 5.4 g fat, 29 g carbs, 5.4 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 29 g protein
RECIPE: Ginger Man Smoothie
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/4 frozen banana
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped 1 teaspoon ground flaxseed
Dash of ground pepper
1 scoop plain plant-based protein powder Water to blend (optional)
264 calories, 5 g fat, 26 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 29 g protein
RECIPE: Potato Sweet Smoothie
1/2 cooked sweet potato, cooled, with the skin off 1/2 frozen banana
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop plain plant-based protein powder
280 calories, 5 g fat, 34 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 28 g protein
RECIPE: Green Monster
¼ cup no-sugar-added apple juice
¼ cup water
½ scoop plant-based vanilla protein powder
½ Bosc pear, chopped
½ cup baby spinach, loosely packed
½ frozen banana
¼ ripe avocado
271 calories/6 g fat/40 g carbs/8 g fiber/15 g protein
RECIPE: Coco-Nuts Smoothie
1/2 cup unsweetened light coconut milk
1 cup kale
1/2 frozen banana
1 tablespoon unsalted peanut butter
1/2 scoop vanilla plant-based protein powder 1/2 cup ice
273 calories, 11 g fat, 28 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 19 g protein
RECIPE: Peanut Butter Cup
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop vanilla or chocolate plant-based protein powder
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
½ frozen banana
½ tbsp natural unsalted peanut butter
water to blend (optional)
258 calories/6 g fat/21 g carbs/5 g fiber/30 g protein
What Are The Benefits of a Smoothie Diet?
More fruits and veggies. The best part about a smoothie diet is the emphasis on fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain most of the daily vitamins and minerals we need and drinking smoothies helps us ingest more of them. Think about it, how likely are you to eat a whole bowl of spinach, a cup of yogurt, nuts, and an apple in one sitting? Not very likely. But you can toss all those ingredients into a blender and consume all the fruits and vegetables you need for the entire day in a few sips.
Less calorie counting. Another benefit to the smoothie diet is less food tracking than other diets. You want to be conscious of your portion sizes with a smoothie diet but you don't need to keep a food diary.
Simple recipes. There are smoothie recipes on every corner of the internet, including this article. Once you've found a few smoothie recipes to get you started, grocery shopping is easy. There isn't much prep time for smoothies even if you're meal prepping for the week. And in no time you'll be experimenting with your own recipes.
Health Risk of a Smoothie Diet
Like finding a good pair of jeans, there is no one size fit all diet for losing weight. Smoothies are a great start for adding greens and fruits into your diet but it is not an effective long-term weight loss plan. Losing weight involves changing eating, drinking, and exercise habits. You'll need to evaluate every aspect of your lifestyle for an effective weight loss strategy.
The smoothie diet is a very restrictive eating plan which could lead to nutritional deficiencies in the long run. It's high in sugars even when using natural fruits, and lacks long-term research on it's effects. The United States Department of Agriculture suggests you fill your plate with a mix of lean and plant-based proteins, fruits, vegetables, grains, and low fat dairy for each meal. While not impossible, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get all those nutrients, keep your smoothie low in calories, and still enjoy the taste.
Also, it is possible to lose muscle mass if you lose weight too quickly. On the flip side of this, if you decide to go back to your regular eating habits and increase your calorie intake, you may find the pounds easily come back. You should consult with your doctor or dietician before starting this diet. It is not recommended for people with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
- Malik, V. S., Schulze, M. B., & Hu, F. B. (2006). Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 84(2), 274–288. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/84.1.274
- Estimated Calories Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, & Physical Activity Level. (n.d.). Dietary Guidelines for Americans, Eighth Edition(2015-2020), 77.
- Johnston C. S. (2005). Strategies for healthy weight loss: from vitamin C to the glycemic response. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 24(3), 158–165.
- Wong, S. K., Chin, K. Y., Suhaimi, F. H., Ahmad, F., & Ima-Nirwana, S. (2017). Vitamin E As a Potential Interventional Treatment for Metabolic Syndrome: Evidence from Animal and Human Studies. Frontiers in pharmacology, 8, 444.
- What Are the Best Drinks for Losing Weight? (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- 10 Best Detox Smoothies For A Flat Belly Cleanse (2019, smoothiediet.com)
- The 39 Unhealthiest Starbucks Drinks You Can Order (2019, womenshealthmag.com)
- Nutrition Benefits of The Strawberry (2008, webmd.com)
- 4 Best Smoothies for a Zero Belly (2016, bestlifeonline.com)
- Dietary Guidelines (2015-2020, dietaryguidelines.gov)
- How Many Calories Do Adults Need (2019, eatright.org)
- Are Green Smoothies Good for You? (webmd.com)
- Smoothie Diet Results: Are They Healthy? (2017, womenshealthmag.com)