Are you making smoothie mistakes?
Most people who drink smoothies make so many mistakes that, in the end, the smoothie is not particularly healthy.
Freshly made green smoothies can be excellent for your health, if they contain the correct ingredients in the correct ratios.
A green smoothie is:
- a thick, blended drink that has the consistency of a milkshake
- made from fresh, healthy ingredients – particularly vegetables.
You can learn how to use your blender to become leaner, stronger, and healthier – especially if you avoid these four common smoothie mistakes.
by Dane Findley
1. Adding Too Much Fruit
Too much fructose (fruit sugar) inside the human body is not a good thing. Yes, fruit is good for you, but only intermittently and in relatively small amounts.
Tossing too much fruit into the blender is among the biggest smoothie mistakes.
Remember, a fasting glucose level between 100 to 125 is considered pre-diabetes.
Look at the lab report from your last annual physical with your medical doctor. Was it approaching 100? Is it past 100?
If so, you want to be careful about ingesting too many simple carbs, including fruit.
Also, there has been some indication in recent research that cancer cells may feed on fructose (see sources below this article).
2. Not Adding Enough Healthy Fats
Not adding enough of the right kind of fat is among the most common smoothie mistakes.
Tossing some clean fats into your blender can help prevent your green smoothies from creating blood-sugar spikes.
Fat, as a general rule, creates more of a sustained energy than does peak-then-crash carbs.
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3. Adding Too Much Whey Protein
Adding a lot of dairy into the blender is also among the most common smoothie mistakes.
I have nothing against dairy. I am not a vegan (I eat small amounts of free range, grass-fed meats and organic clarified butter) but I don’t believe most people need dairy in their green smoothies. There is enough quality calcium and protein in the other plant-based ingredients.
Unless you are a serious athlete, consider allowing plants to do the work in your smoothie – no animal products needed.
As someone who exercised for hours each day, I had whey protein every day in my 20s and 30s. But as I got into my 40s and 50s and started to eat better, I found the macronutrients I received from plants often preferable, and so I stopped adding whey powder to my smoothies and – speaking personally – I felt (and looked) better as a result.
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Protein is needed in virtually every part of our body. Our bones, skin, muscle – you name it – all need quality protein.
Our bodies don’t store protein the same way as they store fat, so it’s essential that we consume quality protein daily, as part of a healthy diet.
The more physically active we are on a particular day, the more vital it is to pay attention to our intake of quality protein.
Not having enough protein can negatively impact our fat-to-muscle ratio and the efficacy of our metabolism.
On the other hand, the human body converts an excess of protein into glucose, so too much protein in our daily diet can create inflammation – which is among the chief catalysts for accelerated aging and disease.
Ask your nutritionist, medical doctor, or naturopath exactly how much protein will meet the unique needs of your own body.
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There are two forms of protein, in particular, that you might find useful for your smoothies.
Using Powders as a Protein Boost
Protein powder can be made from whey, hemp, or other plant powders. You can even make your own powder by putting seeds into a spice or coffee-bean grinder.
When you’ve chosen a powder (I usually prefer soy-free plant-based mixes), try adding a teaspoon or two to the blender and work from there to find your ideal ratio.
If you’re exercising on that day, you might want to add a bit more.
Your smoothie’s taste will not be impacted by the powder. Hemp powder can be a bit bitter on its own, however the fruit in your smoothie will render the hemp’s taste invisible.
Using Seeds and Nuts as a Protein Boost
Powders are often not required in green smoothies. Raw seeds and nuts alone are a rich and tasty way to get high-quality protein into smoothies (for extra high quality, those seeds and nuts can also be sprouted). They tend to enhance the texture of your smoothie.
Next time you’re in the store, pick out some of your favorite raw nuts and seeds and add them to your recipe. Once you’ve mastered that, you next may want to try seeds.
Try to purchase the raw kind as they have a richness that is lost in the pasteurization or roasting process.
Among my favorite are chia and sprouted raw pumpkin seeds (my least favorite are peanuts).
Eventually, over time, as you become more experienced and adventurous in your smoothie-making, you might find that you get the most out of your nuts and seeds when you soak-and-sprout them.
Soaking and Sprouting for Advanced-Level Smoothies
The main reason to soak your nuts and seeds is because they contain enzyme inhibitors.
These enzyme inhibitors are intended to protect the nut until it has the right conditions to grow (conditions like: enough sun or rain).
The benefits of soaking and sprouting are:
- reduces phytic acid (enzyme inhibitors)
- allows better digestion
- reaches the ideal protein state
To soak your nuts and seeds, you place them in a jar of water for a few hours. Make sure to replace the water at least once to wash away the anti-enzymes.
To sprout, leave the nuts and seeds in water for a day or so until they swell to almost twice their size and you see a little tail.
How Much Protein Does Your Body Need?
Our protein needs depend upon several variables (lifestyle, age, size). Nutritionists generally break down the daily minimum protein in grams via a simple equation:
- weight in pounds times .37 = minimum grams of protein/day
- weight in kilograms times .8 = minimum grams of protein/day
According to the above formula, a person who weighs 150 pounds requires a minimum of 55 grams of protein per day. A 200-pound person would want 74 grams.
Sports and workouts involve taxing muscle beyond what is easily comfortable, and that muscle tissue requires restoration after the exercise session. This is when quality protein is invaluable.
Marathon runners might require 50% more protein than a sedentary person. Body Builders might require 200% more; however, all of this is hotly contested – so many experts with so many differing opinions.
Quality Protein Controversy
If those who say that the average American gets enough protein unconsciously are right – in an abstract sense – so be it.
It may not be that relevant to me as an individual because averages aren’t always great at accounting for unique differences.
You can take a sample, run tests, and divide your results by the number of participants – but what you come up with will not perfectly represent a single one of their unique situations.
I prefer instead to calculate the grams based on my weight, adjust for activity level…and voila!
There’s no reason to ignore your protein intake based on generalizations founded on assumptions (or vice versa). Listen to your own body carefully and closely. Really listen, and it will usually tell you what it needs.green smoothies help you to easily adjust macros based on your daily activity level Click To Tweet
Aspartame, a sweetener found in most protein powders, is another subject of great controversy. Apparently, there have been studies linking it to a plethora of health problems. This is a highly debated issue, and I’ll just say that it makes sense to me – under the circumstances – to avoid the protein powders that contain it.
Some people feel that whey is an overly processed food (whey protein is first a liquid, created as a result of cheese-making, then later turned into a powder) and that, because it’s made from cow’s milk, some people have sensitivities to it.
4. Having the Same Ingredients Every Time
Not switching up the ingredients is among the biggest smoothie mistakes.
It’s helpful to create a broad nutrient profile with your smoothies. If you keep having the same ingredients every time, then – nutrient-wise – your highs will get higher and your lows will get lower.
Several ingredients are fantastic for you when used intermittently, but potentially poisonous if used relentlessly.
For example, men over 40 can get too much iron if they overdo it for too long on the spinach. It can be quite serious.
Also, selenium from brazil nuts is great for you. Unless you have too much.
Also, some people are sensitive to oxalates (the compound that plants contain to protect themselves from pests) and get kidney stones and other complications.
All of these challenges can be avoided more easily if you rotate your ingredients. Here are some examples of ingredients you can rotate:
Spices put the flavor into life!
Spices are not only flavorful but many also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
My favorites for green smoothies are turmeric, ginger, blue-green algae, and sometime cayenne.
Coconut flour, full-fat unsweetened coconut milk, shredded coconut – any of these can taste great in a smoothie.
Exotic superfoods can infuse your smoothies with super nutrition. Foods such as goji berries, maca, mangosteen, tree mushroom powder, shilajit, and mesquite can add a welcomed dimension to the flavor of your shake, while providing a restorative effect to your body. Results may vary. Ask your doctor first.
My favorite seeds are raw sprouted pumpkin, chia, and flax. As a source of protein, seeds are exceptional.
My favorite nuts to toss into the blender are brazil nuts, almonds, or pecans. Brazil nuts are naturally high in selenium (so high in fact that you probably only need to add one or two brazil nut per person, and even then you don’t need them every single day).
By the way, I’m not a big fan of peanuts (they have a lovely flavor, but many people are sensitive to the mold inside peanuts, and besides, there are so many other fantastic nuts to choose from).
Lemons or Limes
Man-oh-man, do I love freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice. If you told me I had to go to a deserted island and could only take a few foods with me, lemons or limes would definitely be among the foods on that short list. Lemon and lime juice give smoothies the perfect amount of zing! Only a very small amount is needed.
The beauty of smoothies (and the genius of owning a great blender) is that it makes it simple to sneak in those extra servings of vegetables into your daily diet.
Some of my favorite vegetables to add are broccoli, cucumber, celery, and sometimes red bell pepper.
Sometimes I hear from people who want to gain weight. If you happen to be one of those rare people who is looking to put more lean mass onto your frame, you might consider adding avocado. Avocado adds healthy fat and gives the smoothie a richer texture.
Dark, Leafy Greens
These vegetables are so nutritious and fantastic for you, that they deserve their own category. I like kale, chard, spinach and parsley. I sometimes add cilantro, too.
When I first started making fresh smoothies, I added lots of fruit, like frozen banana chunks.
Years later, my taste buds evolved, and now (miracle of miracles) I find I don’t need as much sweets in my diet.
Today, I mostly stick to a little fresh lime juice. But once in a while I will add berries instead for their beneficial antioxidants.
Ice does something important to the texture of a smoothie: it helps make it more like a milkshake (and less like soup).
Facts about the Smoothie Lifestyle
- smoothies became popular in the USA in the late 60s when ice cream vendors and health food stores began selling them
- it’s thought that the ’60s resurgence of vegetarianism lead to searching for new ways to consume vegetables
- the smoothie is a descendent of pureed fruit drinks which originated in Brazil
- commercial mainstream smoothies usually contain factory-farmed dairy products but there are actually many other options for a liquid base such as almond milk, pineapple juice, or good old fashioned water
- smoothies are popular in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine
The Art and Science of Making a Great Blended Drink and Avoiding Common Smoothie Mistakes
When finding a fruit and veg balance think in terms of ratios:
- a good beginners ratio is 50% fruit and 50% veggies
- when you’re a pro you’ll want 90% veggies and only 10% fruit
The only way you’ll know your starting-balance is to play around with the mix, find what ratio gives you the most pleasure, and move toward more veg at your own pace.
I’m at a point now where I enjoy having my morning smoothie with almost no fruit at all.
We often hear that the recommended amount of vegetables is five servings a day, but the truly health-conscious know that five servings is just the minimum.
Though fruit is helpful to the human body when consumed in small amounts, vegetables are sometimes best when consumed in larger amounts – this is why the common phrase “fruits and veg” is misleading. Fruits and vegetables are two very different things, and the body requires dramatically different amounts.
Too much fruit leads to too much fructose, which can create problems. Vegetables, on the other hand, can be extremely healthy for the human body. Among the best ways to pack-in as much vegetable nutrition as possible is with a daily green smoothie, freshly made from raw foods.
Many people in our modern culture eat cold cereal or toast for breakfast, hamburgers for lunch, and burritos or pizza for dinner. A freshly made green smoothie is almost certainly a better choice than any of those meals.
All you need is a positive attitude, a sense of adventure, a willingness to experiment with new ingredients and a decision to avoid the common smoothie mistakes.
Eating Your Way To A Better Life
Imagine a time earlier in your life when you felt your very best. You were happy and healthy, and your body was trim, strong, and flexible. You were humming with energy!
Hold that in your mind for a moment: remember the physical sensation of feeling lean, enthusiastic and energized. And now imagine feeling one hundred times better than that.
For each person, a solution can be created to provide a robust physical and emotional health to help offset many of the typical factors of aging that plague many people in modern society.
- how important is it to you to become increasingly fit, lean, flexible and energized?
- how important is it for you to experience daily joy and zest?
- 20 years from now, will you bound out of bed each morning with enthusiasm?
What If the Healthiest Version of You Hasn’t Happened Yet?
What if – even though you’re older now – your peak health is ahead of you instead of behind you?
What if you could look and feel better than you ever have before?
Research has revealed that there are success strategies that can help you to make small daily changes that will increase your physical energy, creating a lifetime of health and joy.
Healthier Tomorrow than Today
Most of the people who make smoothies, make the most common smoothie mistakes. Most people become heavier and more bloated with each passing year.
The reality, however, is that each of us has an opportunity to become fitter and leaner with each passing year.
If you have a specific, well-prepared strategy, you can look and feel better physically and emotionally as you age. Your life can get better with each year of living.
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It’s tempting to postpone thinking about getting older until another time when you’re “less busy,” but the best time to take action is in the present – not only for yourself, but also for the people you love.
The time to create and implement a healthier-aging strategy is now (not next week, not next month, not next year, not next decade: the time is now).
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I’ve found that, above all else, there is no universal panacea. Even if you avoid these smoothie mistakes outlined above, I cannot offer you a promise of lifelong high energy.
I wish I could.
What I can do is steer you toward a number of proven good choices and good habits that make all the difference in one’s quality and of life.
My passion in life is synthesizing my research and providing you with real shortcuts to extreme health.
Key Points in Review:
- a green smoothie is a thick, blended drink that has the consistency of a milkshake, but is made from healthy ingredients, including (and this is key) vegetables
- these delicious shakes are not always the color green (though often they are); sometimes they are red or purple (but they always have at least one green ingredient, hence the name)
- many people have found that smoothies and shakes are an easy way to get quality macronutrients into their bodies
- when protein and fat are present in a snack or meal, it seems to slow down how quickly carbohydrates convert to sugar within the body – so it’s a good idea to have some high quality protein and healthy fats within a meal or snack
- you might want some extra protein in your smoothie, too, especially on workout days – that’s when quality protein powders can be invaluable to help you recover from a workout, feed your muscles, and improve your results
- if you want to try sprouting raw nuts or seeds, research it carefully first
- vegetables have an uncanny ability to help make the human body become stronger and shed belly fat – smoothies are a clever say to sneak more vegetables into your weekly menu.