Home Out and About Get Life: Building the Healthiest Smoothie Ever

Get Life: Building the Healthiest Smoothie Ever

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Since so many of you wanted to put a hit out on me because of my anti-smoothie stance, I wanted to play fair – do I think there’s a healthy way to do the smoothie thing? Of course. There’s a healthy way to do anything, but that doesn’t change the fact that so many people don’t do it that way. Far too many folks are brewing kool-aid, let’s just keep it 100.

I think what rubs me the wrong way about this is mainly the fact that people cling to this for weight loss success – are you sincerely going to blend smoothies forever? Or are you going to subsist on smoothies at home, and wild-out everywhere else? What are you really learning about food if that’s your plan? That’s not weight loss maintenance – that’s “hanging on by a thread.”

That being said…. how do you build a healthy smoothie? Well, to pay penance for my smoothie blasphemy, I wrote this lovely little gem for my column with Ebony.com, and you should check it out. If, for no other reason, so that I can get back in your good graces.

Girl, I will cut on some Jodeci and beg like I’m wearing a leather vest and timbs. Baby, I’m beggin’! Forgive me!

Last week, I shared some of the dangers of smoothies – you can recap that here – and why some people might actually be harming themselves with unhealthy smoothies.

But now, the question is how do you enjoy your smoothie the right way, the healthiest way for you?

Here are a few tips for making the healthiest version of a smoothie for you, and a few tips and tricks to keep in mind the next time you step in front of that blender:

1) Don’t buy those pre-packaged smoothies without checking that nutritional label first! Aside from the fact that many of them have added unnecessary chemicals and preservatives to ensure the shelf life of the product – yes, even refrigerated products have shelf life concerns… what do you think that expiration date is all about? – but so many of them have added sugar without even admitting it on the label. Whenever you see “juice concentrate” on that label, know that it’s “industry speak” for “added sugar.”

2) Be mindful of the nutritional profile of your smoothie. Take a program like SparkPeople.com or MyFitnessPal and enter your entire smoothie recipe into the recipe calculator, while being mindful of how many 8oz cups the recipe puts out. Many smoothie recipes I’ve seen have almost 80g of sugar in one blend—which, wow…that’s a lot—while others might be low in sugar per 8oz serving, but if you’re drinking 32oz of it, that adds up. If you’re wondering what a healthy range might be, look at it like this: the average soda carries about 28g of sugar for every 8oz of drink. Is your smoothie in the soda range? Remember, calories do matter.

3) Try to be mindful of the amount of protein in your smoothies. Lots of things (from 2% fat Greek yogurt, to tofu and nut butters—though highly caloric) can add high amounts of protein to the average smoothie, not only filling you up, but also […]

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7 comments

Kami October 15, 2013 - 12:01 PM

Everytime I read a label, the understanding of concentrate always confuses me. Juice concentrate is sugar. Thanks for that info.

Erika Nicole Kendall October 15, 2013 - 4:25 PM

For OUR purposes, yes. Literally, it’s a little more than that, but “concentrate” is added to drinks for the sugary prospect, rarely anything more.

CoCo October 15, 2013 - 5:35 PM

“Girl, I will cut on some Jodeci and beg like I’m wearing a leather vest and timbs. Baby, I’m beggin’! Forgive me!”

LOLOL! I’m counting the calories from that laugh. You are too much!

Joanne Craven October 17, 2013 - 9:40 AM

I liked your list of don’ts for smoothies. And I happen to agree with you about them too. They can be dangerous and people really do rely on them for weight loss, which is stupid. Besides, it’s pain to go thru the motions of smoothie making every day, never mind 2 or 3 times a day. Boy the clean up alone is a pain. I prefer real food to liquid calories.

By the way, I’m a white fat girl working her butt off to lose weight the healthy way, and man! Looking at your pics is inspiration. You look good!

Aja February 5, 2014 - 7:14 AM

I have never been a juicer mostly because I find drinking my food to be a lot less filling and satisfying than eating it. My question is, are there any benefits or reasons why I should start doing it? I eat lots of veggies and fruits already and am not looking to lose weight, but a lot of people swear by it for the nutritional benefits. Since you may no be able to eat a half lb. Of beets or something in a day, I’ve always heard from my fellow runner friends that juicing veggies helps you supplement your diet. I just haven’t made an effort to do it.

Just interested in your perspective. Is it beneficial to start juicing for the added nutrition or unnecessary?

Tess March 8, 2014 - 11:15 AM

I guess I’m a little frustrated from this article. Smoothies help me not have that donut with flavored creamer coffee in the morning…which I’m quite sure has more calories. From my reaseach I though blending keep the fiber and actually juicing does not since all of the fibrous material is left in the juicer. Blending everything is kept in the blender. I do agree though about the pre-packaged smoothie blends those are almost close to a milkshake with the amount of sugar. My smoothies are composed of ice, vegetables, and fruit…no dairy! Do you think that’s still bad as far as sugar is concerned? Also to the one reader who said it takes too long to make smoothies in the morning try to make your own packages smoothies by dividing the veggies and fruit in baggies and freeze…then you don’t have to use ice.

Erika Nicole Kendall March 8, 2014 - 3:30 PM

“Smoothies help me not have that donut with flavored creamer coffee in the morning…which I’m quite sure has more calories”

Not always, and not entirely. That’s detailed here. If the smoothie is sweet enough, you’re just replacing one sugar with another, which could explain why the smoothie is helping you with avoiding the donut.

“From my reaseach I though blending keep the fiber and actually juicing does not since all of the fibrous material is left in the juicer. ”

Again, not always and not entirely. Blending breaks up the fiber and reduces its ability to do its job. Juicing has a high fiber extraction rate, blending just does your chewing for you, sometimes to the point of rendering the fiber useless, depending on the blending.

“Do you think that’s still bad as far as sugar is concerned?”

I can’t say unless I saw the nutritional profile for the drink. Go to this link and read the details.

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