Smoothies have become a big thing over the last decade or so and it’s easy to see why.
Quick to make, convenient to carry, and potentially full of healthy nutrients, drinkable meals have become a regular part of modern culture.
Smoothies now take up a large chunk of the food market and can be seen popping up in supermarkets, fast-food chains, café’s, and even their own dedicated shops.
And yet, there are still a lot of mixed messages out there about whether smoothies are actually good for you.
So, let’s try and clear a few of those issues up.
You don’t chew a smoothie
Stating the obvious.
In reality, chewing plays a large role in our consumption of food as it’s pretty much how we’ve done it since, well forever.
Chewing allows enzymes in our saliva to mix with the food that we are eating, enzymes which help to break down certain elements of the food which helps with digestion in the stomach.
Chewing is also thought to play a role in our bodies release of satiety hormones, the ones which tell our brains that we are full.
The less full we feel after eating (or drinking in this case) the more likely we are to reach for snacks in between meals, a poor strategy for keeping our calories down.
Blending food breaks down the fibre
When we say this, we don’t mean that the fibre is destroyed or changed.
Simply mean’s that the large chunks of fibrous material were broken down into smaller and smaller chunks.
This means that the food is already broken down, so digestion happens very quickly.
If there is sugar in the food then this means that you will get a short, sharp spike in sugar intake, as opposed to the long slow release that we want to keep us ticking over.
Ok, now that the bad points are out of the way, let’s look on the brighter side.
Smoothies can contain vitamins and minerals
If you are somebody who struggles to meet their 5-a-day recommendation, then smoothies could be a game changer for you.
One smoothie can easily be filled with 3 or 4 of your fruit and vegetable intake.
This can give you a much-needed boost of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals which you would otherwise not be getting.
Smoothies can contain protein
Again, if you are somebody who struggles with protein intake early in the morning or after a workout, then smoothies could be your saviour.
Foods like milk, yoghurt, and nut butters can easily be included in smoothies to give you a boost of protein when needed.
Protein powders like whey or pea protein could also be added to give you a good supply of essential amino acids.
Adding protein to your smoothie will also slow the rate of digestion, going some way to counteract the effect of blending.
It all comes down to what YOU put in them
The reason that we emphasise this is that we would generally not recommend smoothies that you don’t buy yourself.
The majority of the time, shop bought smoothies are still filled with additional ingredients like artificial flavourings, sweeteners, preservatives and often sugar.
Furthermore, labelling often advertises smoothies as being lower calorie when shown per portion, not mentioning that a small bottle often contains more than one portion.
For example, quickly searching the most popular smoothie brands brings up results at Waitrose which show calories and sugar content for 100 ml, and 250 ml.
Great, apart from that the bottle is 360 ml and to get those values you will need a calculator, probably.
Then you spot the message ‘*This bottle contains 1.5 servings, 250ml = 1 serving’ as if you are going to drink 2/3rds of the bottle.
Building a good one
Liquids like milk, coconut water, or unsweetened almond, flax, or soy milk are all great bases to start your smoothie.
Berries are lower in sugar than a lot of other fruit and give a great supply of antioxidants and vitamins. Plus, frozen berries can be bought cheaply and help to give the smoothie a thicker texture.
Other fruits like banana or pear will also help to give a creamier texture.
Next, we would add some greens.
Leafy greens like spinach and kale are not strong flavours so are masked easily by other ingredients, as well as providing vitamin A, iron, potassium and other minerals.
Avocado can also be added for some healthy fats and goodness.
Protein powders or high protein ingredients should fill this out and help to keep your energy stores steady a little while longer.
Seeds can also be added as they contain many vitamins that are low in other foods and often aren’t very well digested if they are eaten whole, e.g. flax seeds.
So, are smoothies good for you?
Well, they can be.
Or, they can be pretty bad for you.
Glad that we arrived at a solid conclusion…
It just all comes down to what goes in to them.
Stick to whole foods, avoid too much sugar, get your veg and protein in there, and you should be fine 🙂
Need some help and support with making the right food choices?
Drop us a message now as we are taking on clients for personal training in the Flintshire area!