Making healthier choices for yourself means enjoying the foods and drinks you love. Take smoothies, for example. You can pack tons of delicious, healthy ingredients into one drink that you can enjoy on the go or while working from your desk. But while the drink can be a nutritious part of your day and help you reach some of your diet goals, experts say there are some common ways smoothies can lead to weight gain.
On the one hand, if you’re careful about what you put in your smoothie, you’ll help keep calories, fat, and sugar in check to help you reach your desired protein, fiber, and vitamin levels for the day. lower end. But on the other hand, smoothies can quickly become unhealthy if you don’t pay attention to what’s in them.
Read on to find out what nutritionists say about your smoothies causing weight gain, and a few tips to make them healthier. So for more tips on healthy eating, check out 7 Foods That Will Help You Live Longer.
1 Lack of protein.
If you’re intentional about the ingredients you use in your smoothies, this drink can be a quick and easy way to add protein to your day. Not only does protein help build more lean muscle and help you lose body fat, but “protein helps you feel fuller for longer,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD of Balance One Supplements.
According to Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LD, including adequate protein (and fiber) are critical to a healthy smoothie. “If a smoothie doesn’t have these components, it may keep people from feeling fuller for longer, which can lead to increased calorie intake from other sources throughout the day.”
In fact, one study published in the journal Obesity found that participants who ate a low-protein breakfast ate more food on average at their next meal. Researchers believe this is because people have increased their protein intake by supplementing their low-protein meals and eating more during the day. The study also found that participants who ate a high-protein breakfast ate less at their next meal. This is one of the ways that not getting enough protein can sometimes lead to excess calorie consumption and weight gain.
For more protein in your smoothie, try adding cow’s milk, Greek yogurt, chia seeds, or your favorite protein powder flavor.
RELATED: 19 Best High-Protein Smoothie Recipes
2 You’re skipping fiber.
To avoid weight gain, some people don’t understand the importance of getting enough fiber in what they eat and drink. A high-fiber diet not only prevents many chronic diseases, but also helps regulate appetite by increasing satiety and improving gut microbiota.
“Fiber plays an important role in satiety and digestive health, but it’s often overlooked in smoothies that don’t contain fruit peel or fruit juice,” says Best. “If your smoothie doesn’t have fiber-rich ingredients like fruits, vegetables, or whole grains, you may not feel satisfied after consuming it.”
Because it’s not satiating, Best says, “it can increase hunger, lead to overeating later in the day, and contribute to weight gain.”
According to Lisa Yang, MD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and a member of our medical expert panel, the best sources of fiber for your smoothies are “berries, kale, avocados, kiwis, pears, beans, flaxseeds, and chia seeds. .”
RELATED: 44 Best High-Fiber Foods for a Healthy Diet
3 You are using too much sweetener.
It’s common to add extra sugar to your smoothie because it’s on the bitter side, especially if you’re making a green drink with tons of veggies and leafy greens. However, experts warn that consuming large amounts of these added sweeteners can increase your caloric intake and lead to weight gain.
“Natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and agave nectar may seem healthier than refined sugar, but they contain calories and can contribute to weight gain if consumed in excess,” says Sabat. “Consuming too much sugar can lead to weight gain because it provides empty calories with no nutritional value,” Best added.
Of course, you don’t have to completely eliminate these spices, but controlling how much you consume can make a difference in your health goals. If possible, try using fruit to sweeten your drink before adding an additional source of sugar, or, as Young suggests, you can “sweeten up your smoothie by adding a date or two.”
4 You are consuming too many calories.
When you’re drinking smoothies, “it’s important to be mindful of portion size and consumption to avoid overdosing,” says Young.
As mentioned earlier, making smoothies is a delicious way to absorb healthy foods that are high in protein and high in fiber.
ingredients into your daily routine. However, this can get a bit tricky, as “too much of a good thing” can be true even for smoothies, and consuming too many calories through your drink can derail your goals.
Although there are many dietary factors related to weight gain, such as not eating enough protein, consuming too many processed foods, and eating a high-sugar diet, at the end of the day, consuming more calories than you’re burning throughout the day brings on the extra pounds.
Common smoothie ingredients like full-fat yogurt, nut butters, nuts, and avocado offer health benefits like protein, fiber, and healthy fats, but items like these still have a fairly high calorie count, and according to Sabat, “This means they can significantly increase the calorie content of the smoothie, leading to weight gain if consumed in excess.”
You should still include these foods if you enjoy them and want their health benefits, but if you’re noticing weight gain and can’t pinpoint the source, this may be a helpful place to start.
5 You’re consuming store-bought smoothies.
We’ve discussed how smoothies with too much added sugar and not enough protein or fiber can contribute to weight gain, and one of the most common culprits when it comes to these qualities is a store-bought, pre-made smoothie. Drinking these means you don’t have any control over which ingredients (and how much of each) are used.
“Pre-packaged or store-bought smoothies can often be loaded with added sugars and preservatives, making them less healthy choices,” says Sabat. “These additives can increase the calorie content and promote weight gain if consumed regularly.”
For example, the Bolthouse Protein Plus Strawberry Smoothie may have 30 grams of protein, but with only 1 gram of fiber and 39 grams of total sugar, with 25 of those grams coming from added sugar, it’s best to leave this one alone. We can also say the same for the Naked Juice Blue Machine. This bottled smoothie has a total of 55 grams of sugar, as well as only 3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein, meaning there’s almost nothing to keep you feeling full.