Are smoothies bad for you? Are they making you gain weight

Dietitian Melissa Meier reveals the four smoothie mistakes you could be making that might be sabotaging your weight loss.

Smoothies are synonymous with good nutrition. In reality, however, they don’t always live up to their health halo.

Of course, if your sip is packed with green veggies and chia seeds, you’ve taken a step in the right direction – but if weight loss is on your radar, I’d advise you to tread carefully around your blender.

Why? Here are four potential reasons your supposedly healthy habit is actually sabotaging your weight loss efforts.

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1. You’re going into fruit overload

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: fruit is incredibly good for you. What’s not so good, however, is downing litres upon litres of juice, so don’t build your smoothies with a base of fruit juice. Juice is packed with kilojoules and lacks the all-important hunger-busting fibre a whole piece of fruit contains. But, don’t go overboard on whole pieces of fruit, either.

To keep the calorie content in check, opt for just one piece of fruit (or a cup of chopped mixed fruit) per smoothie.

2. You’re opting for convenience

A smoothie from your local juice bar is an easy choice when you’re on the run, but it could pack far more calories than something you’d whip up at home. A small banana smoothie from a smoothie chain, for example, contains an average of 331 calories. A glass of skim milk and a frozen banana blitzed together in your very own kitchen, however, offers just 183 calories.

My advice is to set your alarm a couple of minutes earlier for a DIY smoothie in favour of a trip to the juice bar.

3. You’re adding too many extras

Honey, peanut butter, almonds, goji berries, protein powder… they can all enhance the taste and texture of your go-to smoothie, but unfortunately, they can also really ramp up the calorie content. A tablespoon of peanut butter or a scoop of protein powder, for example, both pack around 150 calories – so if you’re adding lots of extras, it’s no surprise the scales might be tipping in the wrong direction.

For a day-to-day smoothie (especially if it’s only a snack and not an entire meal), I’d suggest keeping it simple with just the basics. Think: a cup of milk, a spoonful of yoghurt and a piece of fruit. That’s it.

4. You’ve got the balance wrong

Carbohydrates, protein, fibre and healthy fats are the awesome foursome that keep you feeling full and satisfied. Without at least one of them in your smoothie, you’ll be back in the kitchen in no time looking for more food (or heading for the office biscuit jar). So, it’s essential that your smoothie contains at least one of these good-for-you nutrients.

Keep in mind point three above – you don’t need to have a smoothie with millions of ingredients, but two or three of the following is a good place to start to keep you feeling satisfied. Here’s a good starting point of ingredients for a healthy smoothie:

  • Carbohydrates – dairy or soy milk and yoghurt, rolled oats, fruit
  • Protein – dairy or soy milk and yoghurt, nuts, seeds, peanut butter
  • Fibre – whole grains (e.g. rolled oats), fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, peanut butter
  • Fats – nuts, seeds, peanut butter

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.