When done right, smoothie bowls may be able to help you lose weight. Why? For starters, they're an easy (and delicious) way to eat more nutrient-packed fruits and vegetables, which we know can help to reduce obesity.
Fruits and vegetables are inherently high in fiber (which come from carbohydrates), so when they make up the bulk of a smoothie bowl, it becomes a good source of fiber, too. High-fiber diets are linked to healthier weights, according to the Mayo Clinic, because they tend to be more filling, and can take longer to eat and digest.
Protein and fat are important to include, too, especially when it comes to weight loss. With any meal, you want to find a balance of all three macronutrients.
A diet focused on increased lean protein (along with fiber) resulted in a reduction in calorie intake and weight loss, without restricting calories or any other component in the diet, per an October 2018 study published in Nutrition.
Fat is also key because it's the second most satiating nutrient, as stated in a July 2016 paper published in Annual Reviews. It's satisfying to us humans — this is part of the reason why we gravitate to high-fat foods like ice cream and butter.
But you have to be careful when making or purchasing a smoothie bowl. They can be high in calories and unbalanced from a macronutrient perspective, typically running high in carbs and sugar.
Best Practices for Making and Ordering Smoothie Bowls
- Keep an eye on the amount of toppings. That's especially important when it comes to high-calorie foods (albeit, often sources of healthy fats) like nuts, seeds and almond butters.
- Leave the skin on. If you’d typically eat a fruit or vegetable with its skin (i.e. apples, zucchini, etc.), refrain from peeling the produce. Skin adds fiber and extra nutrients. Just make sure you wash your produce well (when making a bowl at home).
- Keep your portion in check. Smoothie bowls can be nutrient- and calorie-dense, so be cognizant of how much you’re eating.
- Add real, whole fruit instead of juice. Fruit juice has been stripped of its fiber. This is one reason why smoothies and smoothie bowls top juice. Instead of adding orange or apple juice, add the whole fruit instead (skin on of course!).
We've pulled together six smoothie bowl recipes to help you get started with making your own smoothies at home. They're all under 400 calories and have a healthy mix of carbohydrates, protein and fat.
1. Dragon Fruit Smoothie Bowl
The combo of whole fruit, coconut milk and plant-based protein powder are what make this a balanced bowl, from a macronutrient perspective. Among other featured fruits are raspberries — this berry ranks highly when it comes to fiber content, according to the USDA.
The recipe also calls for a serving of plant-protein powder. Protein in general is key when trying to shed pounds. This macronutrient is the most satiating and it helps maintain your metabolism, even when you're losing weight. Protein also helps spare the loss of fat-free body mass.
Get the Dragon Fruit Smoothie Bowl recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Matcha Smoothie Bowl
This bright green bowl includes pineapples, matcha, zucchini, spinach and bananas. So often we hear about bananas being "fattening" (insert eye roll here) because they're high in carbs and have too much sugar. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Harvard researchers analyzed the consumption of certain fruits and vegetables and their association with changes in weight, in a study published in PLOS Medicine in January 2016. The study, spanning across three cohort studies and including more than 120,000 men and women, found that eating fruit, such as bananas, was not associated with weight gain.
A medium banana has 105 calories along with 3 grams of fiber, according to the USDA — that fiber will help increase satiety and reduce appetite.
Get the Matcha Smoothie Bowl recipe and nutrition info from Running on Real Food.
3. Low Carb Smoothie Bowl With Cauliflower and Greens
This low-carb smoothie bowl is a no-brainer when it comes to weight loss. Cauliflower and zucchini, two low-calorie, low-carb veggies, make up the base of this smoothie bowl, giving it a creamy, thick texture. An entire cup of cauliflower has just 27 calories, per the USDA. Zucchini is right there too, with just 21 calories per cup, according to the USDA.
These two veggies work in smoothie bowls and the like because they're mild in flavor. Sneaking them into smoothies helps to bump up the nutrient profile, while also adding bulk and thickness to your smoothie bowl.
Get the Low Carb Smoothie Bowl With Cauliflower and Greens recipe and nutrition info from the Conscious Dietitian.
4. Strawberry Beet Smoothie Bowl
If you're trying to lose weight, working out can help move things along. And if you're working out, beets might just be your secret weapon. Consuming beets and beet juice can help you work out harder and recover faster, according to a January 2018 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
This bowl pairs beets, strawberries, zucchini and bananas with protein powder and milk to create that bright pink base. The best part is, this bowl packs in 20 grams of fiber. For women, that's 80 percent of your needs, and for men, it's 52 percent, per the recommendations in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Along with fruits and vegetables, we're also often come up short on fiber — the two are certainly connected. Only 10 percent of adults eat enough fiber on a daily basis, as outlined in a January 2017 paper published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.
Get the Strawberry Beet Smoothie Bowl recipe and nutrition info from Running on Real Food.
5. Chocolate Berry Smoothie Bowl
If a smoothie bowl could taste like dessert, this one would be it. Frozen berries and banana whipped up with chocolate protein powder and cacao to make a sweet, yet healthy treat. Each serving has 20 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber.
Research shows that populations with greater intakes of fiber weigh less, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation. Results from a 20-month prospective cohort study showed a 0.25 kilogram (that's equivalent to just over half a pound) decrease in body weight with every additional gram of dietary fiber consumed.
Get the Chocolate Berry Smoothie Bowl recipe and nutrition info from V Nutrition.
6. Green Mango Smoothie Bowl
This green smoothie, which gets its hue from spinach and chlorella, a blue-green algae, is well-balanced with 42 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of fiber, 25 grams of protein and 4 grams of fat. The mango here is what makes this extra nutritious.
A November 2013 paper published in the Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences studied the link between mango consumption and overall diet and health. The findings showed an association between eating mangoes regularly and better nutrient intake and diet quality.
Get the Green Mango Smoothie Bowl recipe and nutrition info from Running on Real Food.
- Mayo Clinic: "Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet"
- Nutrition: "A Nonrestrictive, Weight Loss diet Focused on Fiber and Lean Protein Increase"
- Annual Reviews: "The Macronutrients, Appetite, and Energy Intake"
- USDA: "29 Fruits High in Fiber"
- PLOS Medicine: "Changes in Intake of Fruits and Vegetables and Weight Change in United States Men and Women Followed for Up to 24 Years: Analysis from Three Prospective Cohort Studies"
- USDA: "Cauliflower"
- USDA: "Zucchini"
- Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: "Effects of Beetroot Juice Supplementation on Intermittent High-intensity Exercise Efforts"
- American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine: "Closing America’s Fiber Intake Gap"
- International Food Information Council Foundation: "Fiber Fact Sheet"
- Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences: "Mangoes are Associated with Better Nutrient Intake, Diet Quality, and Levels of Some Cardiovascular Risk Factors: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey"
- USDA: "Bananas, Raw"
- 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans: "Appendix 7. Nutritional Goals for Age-Sex Groups Based on Dietary Reference Intakes and Dietary Guidelines Recommendations"