You can’t beat the convenience of a smoothie, particularly when you’re on the go. Of course, too many people drink smoothies bursting with sugar, fat and too many calories to fit into a weight-loss plan. Keep the calories low by making your smoothies at home, choosing ingredients that will keep you satiated for hours to come.
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Pile on the Fruits and Veggies
Fruits tend to be the basis of a homemade smoothie, and according to nutrition consultant Mike Roussell in “Shape” magazine, you can’t really go wrong with any of your favorites. He recommends berries, which are lower in carbohydrates but still packed with nutrition, or tropical fruits for a pre- or post-workout smoothie when you want the extra carbs. Use frozen fruits in place of ice to keep the smoothies thick and cold. For extra nutrition without significant calories, add leafy greens like spinach and kale to your smoothie. Fruits and vegetables aid weight loss because they are rich in fiber, which helps fill you up so you eat less of higher-calorie foods.
Fill Up With Fat and Protein
Adding protein and a small amount of fat to your smoothie will help keep you satisfied long after the smoothie is gone, ensuring that you don’t pack on the calories with another meal shortly thereafter. While you can use protein powder for a quick boost of the macronutrient -- Roussell recommends whey protein for a thinner smoothie or casein for a creamier blend -- whole-food options include walnuts or peanut butter for both protein and fat, as well as flaxseed oil or avocado as alternative fat options. Watch your serving size, as these additions are higher in calories. You could also include silken tofu or low-fat cottage cheese as a protein choice.
Adding fruit juice to your smoothie simply increases the number of calories without providing significant satiating nutrients. One-half cup of orange juice adds 56 calories to your smoothie. Instead, add plain water as a base or coconut water, if you need a little flavor -- 1/2 cup provides 23 calories. To thicken the smoothie, add crushed ice to the blender.
Experiment with different ingredients to find out what flavor combinations you enjoy the most -- after all, you won’t want to regularly drink a smoothie that you don’t find appealing. For an unexpected flavor combination with plenty of nutrition, “Fitness” magazine recommends combining blueberries with basil and spinach leaves, plus a frozen banana and unsweetened almond milk. Another nutrient-rich option blends nonfat Greek yogurt with pineapple, kale and cilantro, as well as chia seeds, lime juice and a dash of agave nectar for sweetness. Try new smoothies every week to both vary your nutritional intake and keep things interesting.