Starting your day with a healthy breakfast sets the tone for the rest of your day, and it can help you lose weight as part of a low-calorie diet plan. Although no single "perfect" breakfast exists -- choose a healthy meal you love and will eat on a regular basis. The ideal breakfast provides high-quality protein and is low in sugar, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. A breakfast shake can fit the bill, especially if you make it at home, using fresh produce and other quality ingredients.
Add Fruits and Veggies for Fiber
Fruits and veggies should take center stage in your morning smoothie. These foods offer beneficial nutrients, such as vitamin C and potassium, which benefit your overall health, plus dietary fiber for weight loss. Fiber isn't fully digested and it is used for energy -- so it's not a source of calories -- but it still adds bulk to your meal, which helps you feel full. And it's a simple way to lose weight, since simply eating more fiber is enough to trigger significant weight loss, according to results published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2015.
To limit calories, you should hold yourself to a cup of fruit in your morning shake, but you can add as many fibrous veggies, such as spinach or kale, as you'd like. A cup of blackberries adds 8 grams of fiber to your shake -- 27 percent of the 30-gram intake goal linked to weight loss in the 2015 study, while 2 cups of raw spinach adds 1.5 grams of fiber. If you make your shake with a banana, you'll get 3 grams of fiber.
Add Protein to Your Morning Shake
If fruits and veggies have the starring role in your shake, protein is the Best Supporting Actor. Eating meals high in protein throughout the day helps you lose weight, and it also helps you feel more satisfied on a weight-loss diet -- especially at night, when you may tend to indulge in extra snacking, reports a 2011 study published in Obesity. Make your smoothie using nonfat milk to add 8 grams of protein to your shake, or add a 6-ounce serving of nonfat, vanilla Greek yogurt for an extra 12 grams of protein. If you want an additional protein boost, blend a scoop or two of protein powder into your ingredients. The exact quantity of protein you'll get depends on the powder you choose but, for reference, a common commercially available brand of whey protein has 26 grams of protein per serving. Be sure to choose a powder that's low in sugar or does not contain any added sugar so that you don't end up with a sugar-packed shake.
Simple Breakfast Protein Shakes
You don't need to get fancy with your smoothies if you don't want to -- a basic smoothie offers plenty of nutritional value and has fewer than 350 calories. Make your smoothie with a cup of nonfat milk, half a frozen banana, 2 cups of spinach and a 6-ounce container of Greek yogurt for a shake that contains 278 calories, 4 grams of fiber and 23 grams of protein.
Or, try an antioxidant-packed protein shake made from a cup of blackberries, 2 cups of chopped raw kale, a cup of nonfat milk, and a 2-scoop serving of protein powder. This shake offers 346 calories, 9 grams of fiber and 38 grams of protein.
Get a chocolate fix with a basic cocoa smoothie made from a cup of nonfat milk, half a frozen banana, a half-cup of raspberries, 2 cups of spinach, a 2-scoop serving of protein powder and a tablespoon of cocoa powder. You'll take in 343 calories, 6 grams of fiber and 39 grams of protein.
Gourmet Shake Ideas for Weight Loss
Breakfast shakes are a great way to stay healthy, and they're a chance to play around with different flavor combinations so you don't become bored. Try a "zucchini muffin-" inspired shake by blending shredded zucchini, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, vanilla Greek yogurt, a frozen banana, a pinch of cinnamon and a spoonful of almond butter; or, choose a caffeinated pick-me-up with a shake made from vanilla protein powder, iced coffee, cinnamon, Greek yogurt and cacao powder. Try a green shake packed with veggies by making your shake with unsweetened coconut water, berry-flavored protein powder, spinach, baby kale and frozen blackberries.