If weight loss is on your list of New Year's resolutions, you'll soon be putting together a healthy meal plan (let's just enjoy the holidays first, OK?), and no doubt there will be a few smoothies thrown in there. Smoothies are a great option for a healthy breakfast or snack because they are easy and quick and you can pack a lot of nutrition into just one glass.
Smoothies can quickly turn into dessert (and I don't mean this healthy blueberry cheesecake smoothie), though, if you aren't careful about what (and how much) you throw into your blender.
We spoke with holistic nutrition consultant Julia Visser to find out which foods to keep out of your smoothie if you're trying to keep it weight-loss friendly.
We'd all love for our smoothies to taste just like a chocolate milkshake, but if you go this route, the calories and sugar can add up fast. One-quarter cup of semisweet chocolate chips will add 280 calories and 32 grams of sugar to your smoothie! You can slash major calories and all of the sugar by subbing cacao nibs or unsweetened cocoa powder instead. If you can't resist that chocolate milkshake, try this vegan chocolate milkshake smoothie instead.
Just because Winnie the Pooh can survive off honey doesn't mean that you can (not that we don't love his little bear belly). Lots of smoothie recipes include honey (or other liquid sweeteners), but they aren't necessary. Just a few tablespoons of honey can add almost 200 calories to your smoothie. Fruit is plenty sweet on its own, so there's really no reason to add extra sweeteners on top of it. Visser also suggests using spices like cinnamon and vanilla to "give a smoothie plenty of sweetness without the added sugar." This almond strawberry-banana yogurt smoothie is sweet as can be, with no added sugar in sight.
Too Much Nut Butter
We are big (OK, huge) fans of peanut butter, but you've got to keep the spoonfuls in check if weight loss is your goal. Visser says, "Nut butters are great for satiety, which can actually help with weight loss." A tablespoon of peanut butter carries about 100 calories, and that is just for the no-sugar-added varieties. We won't deny you if banana and peanut butter is your thing, but it's best to measure out the nut butter until you've done it enough times to easily eyeball it.
Yogurt gives smoothies their, well, smooth texture, and avoiding the fruit-flavored varieties is "key to avoiding too much sugar," according to Visser. An eight-ounce container of plain, nonfat Chobani yogurt has only four grams of sugar, but if you opt for the Banana Fruit on the Bottom instead, you'll be getting 14 grams. That may not seem like a big difference, but it adds up. If you want to get that sweet fruit flavor, stick with real fruit so you can get some fiber. Here are a few yogurt-powered smoothies to get you started.
So, what's your favorite healthy smoothie ingredient?