For years, people have debated whether or not smoothies are a healthy and efficient way to lose weight. While some fad juicing diets should certainly be avoided, smoothies can be a successful way to shed some extra pounds while also giving your body the nutrition it needs to thrive. And there’s research to prove it. Studies have found that using smoothies as a meal replacement is beneficial for weight loss1Frestedt, J. L., Young, L. R., & Bell, M. (2012). Meal Replacement Beverage Twice a Day in Overweight and Obese Adults (MDRC2012-001). Current nutrition and food science, 8(4), 320–329. https://doi.org/10.2174/157340112803832156. However, since you can virtually put anything in your blender, not all smoothies are created equal. Health experts recommend sticking with homemade smoothie recipes made with whole fruits and vegetables (and perhaps an added sprinkle of nutritional elements), versus the store-bought versions. 2Torrens, K. (2020, April 23). Are smoothies good for you? BBC Good Food. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/are-smoothies-good-you. This will ensure you get high-quality, nutrient-dense ingredients into your day instead of all the sugar and junk in other varieties. But can you really just enjoy some smoothies and shed some pounds?
What are Smoothies?
First things first, it’s important to understand a little bit about smoothies. By definition, smoothies are a drink made by pureeing ingredients. They are often made with nutritious fruits and vegetables and have a liquid base, achieved with ingredients, such as yogurt, milk, non-dairy alternatives, or fruit juice.
However, smoothies can also be made with all of the ingredients that won’t benefit your weight loss, such as ice cream, added sugar, preservatives, food coloring and additives. This is why it’s imperative and recommended by health experts to avoid store-bought versions and to make smoothies at home with whole fruits and vegetables3Shortsleeve, C. (2018). Are Smoothies Healthy? Here’s What the Experts Say. Time. Retrieved 1 December 2021, from https://time.com/5447846/are-smoothies-healthy/..
Using Smoothies for Weight Loss
While weight loss is a complex topic that varies from person to person, research suggests that smoothies can be an effective weight-loss tool4Hill, A. (2020). Are Smoothies Good for You?. Healthline. Retrieved 1 December 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-smoothies-good-for-you.. Smoothies made with whole fruits and vegetables (made in your own blender and not from the store) offer many nutritional benefits that can activate your body’s metabolism and fat-burning capabilities. They also help you expend more calories than you take in, which is one of the main factors for effective and sustainable weight loss.
However, too much of a good thing can be bad. Health and weight loss experts suggest not using smoothies as a meal replacement for every meal. Instead, it’s recommended to incorporate smoothies into your diet while enjoying delicious and nutritious meals that accent your weight loss goals5Olsen, N. (2020). Protein shake diet for weight loss: Meal plans and side effects. Medical News Today. Retrieved 1 December 2021, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319252.. For example, you want to pick a smoothie for breakfast, lunch, or as a late-night snack, instead of having one for each meal of the day. It’s about balance.
Benefits of Using Smoothies for Weight Loss
There’s no shortage of benefits when it comes to using smoothies to lose weight – and they expand across a variety of different categories. For example, smoothies are healthy and nutritious (when made with the right ingredients). They can also help you offset calories you would have consumed otherwise, allowing you to stay within your daily caloric goal. Smoothies can also replace unhealthy alternatives that you may have had otherwise. For example, opting for a nutrient-dense smoothie instead of a bacon breakfast sandwich or a granola bar is sure to be more beneficial for your health and weight loss. Smoothies are also incredibly quick and simple to make. All you need is a blender and some ingredients, and you have a delicious meal replacement within minutes. This makes it super easy to reap the benefits of smoothies, as very little is required of you. You don’t have to count calories, do massive food restrictions or spend an hour running on a treadmill every morning. Additionally, smoothies that are high in protein and fiber will also aid weight loss by keeping you full. Here’s a quick recap of the benefits (and some extras) that you can expect:
- Get nutritious vegetables in your diet that you wouldn’t get otherwise
- Stay within your calorie intake goal by using a smoothie as a meal replacement
- Boost your daily nutrition and feel better
- Have more energy to exercise
- Get certain enzymes into your diet that help dissolve body fat
- Quick and easy
- Curb your cravings with sweet fruit smoothie options
- Less calorie-counting and food tracking
Potential Drawbacks of Smoothies
One of the main potential drawbacks that exist is if you don’t like smoothies. Go figure. While it is rare, some people do not like the texture of the pureed ingredients. However, the possible health and weight loss benefits are certainly worth it. The texture can also be adjusted depending on your preference. For example, if you prefer more of a liquid base, simply use the blender a little bit longer or add an extra splash of liquid in. If you prefer your smoothies to be super cold, crush up some ice and add it into the mix. That’s one of the amazing things about smoothies – they can be made just how you like them. Other than that, as long as you have a blender you can start using smoothies as an effective weight-loss tool.
How to Start using Smoothies for Weight Loss
Great question! There are plenty of options that can get you started. Some people prefer to use a smoothie program that has already done all of the research and planning for them. These types of programs often provide you with all of the information, recipes and meal plans needed so you can jump right into sipping the good stuff. Alternatively, you can do the research and planning yourself, but you already know the basics just from reading this article. Here’s a recap of what you’ve learned so far and some handy tips to help you get the most out of your smoothies:
- Invest in a good blender (you’ll thank me for this later)
- Avoid store-purchased smoothies
- Make your smoothies at home with whole fruits and vegetables
- Incorporate smoothies into your day with other meals
- Opt for a smoothie weight loss program
- Avoid added sugar
- Use smoothies rich in fiber and protein to feel fuller longer
- Find different smoothie recipes that satisfy all of your cravings (and taste buds)
Finding Your Calorie Deficit
As mentioned throughout this article, creating a calorie deficit is often recommended as the best way to lose sustainable weight successfully, and smoothies can certainly help with that. However, a healthy daily calorie goal is different for everyone, depending on factors such as age, sex, weight and physical activity. Therefore, it’s imperative to determine your specific calorie goal, so you can align your smoothies and meals with it to ensure you expend more calories than you take in.
In conclusion, smoothies can be an excellent addition to your weight loss regime that can bring you plenty of health benefits that speed up the fat-burning process. However, they should be used as a weight loss tool, vs. your entire weight loss remedy, as relying solely on smoothies to lose weight can result in unhealthy and unsustainable habits. The key to permanent weight loss success with smoothies is using the right ingredients that provide the highest satiety for the lowest number of calories. However, to maximize your weight loss benefits, you must make sure your smoothies are made with high quality, whole fruits and vegetables, and no added sugar. You’ll also want to make sure the smoothies and meals you enjoy each day allow you to create a calorie deficit, so you can lose sustainable weight without jeopardizing your health or nutrition.
- 1Frestedt, J. L., Young, L. R., & Bell, M. (2012). Meal Replacement Beverage Twice a Day in Overweight and Obese Adults (MDRC2012-001). Current nutrition and food science, 8(4), 320–329. https://doi.org/10.2174/157340112803832156
- 2Torrens, K. (2020, April 23). Are smoothies good for you? BBC Good Food. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/are-smoothies-good-you
- 3Shortsleeve, C. (2018). Are Smoothies Healthy? Here’s What the Experts Say. Time. Retrieved 1 December 2021, from https://time.com/5447846/are-smoothies-healthy/.
- 4Hill, A. (2020). Are Smoothies Good for You?. Healthline. Retrieved 1 December 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-smoothies-good-for-you.
- 5Olsen, N. (2020). Protein shake diet for weight loss: Meal plans and side effects. Medical News Today. Retrieved 1 December 2021, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319252.