My Take on Smoothies
I wanted to share with you one of the greatest secrets that you can start using today to significantly improve your health, longevity & performance!
Raw food, juicing & shakes have gone mainstream over the last 10 years or so. You can’t check the health book section without seeing another juicing or shake-making book!
Adequate intake of fruits and vegetables has been to be protective against cancers and cardiovascular disease. shown length and there is some evidence to suggest it can effectively help people lose body fat, improve health biomarkers and even to treat cancers. However, I am a WHOLE REAL FOOD advocate, so I will be focusing on smoothies instead. These contain most of the same benefits of juice, but I would argue contain more potential benefits due to containing more of the whole vegetable & fruit. One example is polyphenols, which are known to be powerful anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer compounds. A recent study found that more polyphenols reached the colon when an apple was used in a smoothie vs. consumed as juice. This makes perfect sense, since the juice would eject the solid matter that contains much of these (and more) beneficial compounds.
For those who don’t know, smoothie-making is different from juicing in that you put the entire food (vegetable & fruits, etc…) into a blender & pulverize them to a liquid consistency. They are much heartier & filling compared with juices & the entire parts of the plant are still present in the smoothie so you still get the micronutrients, antioxidants, etc… as with juicing but you also get the fibers and pre-biotic content of the plant that is often removed when juicing.
Once we understand that smoothies are just blended versions of the foods that you start with, then it becomes clear that starting with crappy, processed foods & blending them into your mix is NOT a good idea! It still all comes down to using WHOLE REAL foods! Most of the evidence surround vegetable & fruit intakes and long term health markers is due to the whole plant matter (when juices are included in the analysis, the findings become non significant) and smoothies use the entire vegetable and fruit whereas juices eject the solid parts.
From an insulin stimulating perspective (stimulating too much insulin leads to body fat storage & eventually could turn into metabolic syndrome), smoothies contain factors that limit the insulin stimulating response to the drink. Obviously, drinking your food is still going to produce more insulin vs. eating it, but including the fibers & other indigestible compounds from vegetables and fruits in the smoothie will lower the overall insulin stimulating effect.
Furthermore, you want to include foods in your smoothie recipes that increase your satiety, which briefly is how full a food makes you feel and for how long you feel full. This can be calculated as a Fullness Factor.
Now. All of that is well and good, but we have to make sure that the foods we are putting into a smoothie are: a) REAL, b) anti-inflammatory, c) non-irritating to the gut & d) yummy to you – otherwise you won’t drink it or your kids won’t drink it!
I believe that this formula for smoothie-building will help guide you to create your own smoothie masterpieces that will support your fat loss, health & longevity goals!
Here are my tips:
1) Make your smoothies GREEN – this means that they contain mostly low carb vegetables as the backbone of your cocktail! Use a couple of cups/handfuls of green leafy vegetables including, but not limited to: Kale, Spinach, Bok Choy, Collard Greens, Cabbage Greens, Swiss Chard, Beet Greens, Sprouts, Cucumber, Broccoli, Celery. Be sure to mix & match your source weekly so you get a good mix of beneficial compounds! This component should make up the bulk of your smoothie (i.e. mostly low carb vegetables).
2) Your Liquid Source – I suggest using clean water as your primary fluid. If you are needing more of a carbohydrate boost then try coconut water, coconut milk (full fat), or even almond milk. You can include ice as well, which will melt as you blend the drink. Also, frozen vegetables/fruits are a good way to include the food & ice as well.
3) Veggies/Fruits (use one or more): Carrots, Sweet potatoes, Strawberries, Blueberries, Bananas, Apples, Cherries, Coconut, Beets, Lemon & Ginger root, Pumpkin, Tomatoes, and more… Be sure to mix & match your source weekly so you get a good mix of beneficial compounds! Be sure to use these ingredients sparingly, just to taste them, not too much as that would drive the carb content up a lot.
4) Fat source – this is often ignored & considered optional, BUT I would highly recommend this. Including fat in your smoothie will make it all the vitamins in the veggies much more available to the body & converts it into a VITAMIN BULLET. Some that I use regularly include: Avocado, Olives, EV Olive oil, Pastured butter, Coconut oil, Coconut milk (full fat from can).
5) Add-ins (optional) – Protein powder (no sugar or sweetener if possible), Flax seed (ground), Cinnamon, Vanilla, others.
Don’t be limited by my list. Feel free to experiment & come up with your own killer recipes! Feel free to share them in the comments. And don’t forget to subscribe today to be notified by email whenever a new post (like this one) is available.
Take care & have an awesome week!