“Green smoothie recipes tend to have high amounts of carbs but my doctor has me doing the complete opposite to drop weight. Are the carbs with the green smoothies way too high because of the fruit intake?” – Gloria
“I was looking at your green smoothie recipes. I wanted to make some but I noticed that the smoothies have a lot of carbs. I thought to maintain your weight, you were only supposed to have about 100-130 grams of carbs per day.” – Sarah
The question about carbs and green smoothies have to be the most asked question I get. The biggest reason is that low-carb diets are all the rage these days, particularly for weight loss.
Unfortunately, even healthy (non-fattening) carbohydrates have been vilified. However, it is not necessary to cut out all carbs, or restrict intake of healthy fruit because of fear that “all carbs are created equal” and that they will make you fat (they won’t).
Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs
You have probably heard about “good carbohydrates” and “bad carbohydrates”. Not all carbs are created equal. There’s no argument that donuts, pasta, white rice (and bread), soda and sweetened beverages, cookies, and cupcakes are all bad carbohydrates. These foods are at the forefront of the obesity epidemic.
However, fresh, whole, ripe fruits are in a completely different league than pastries. It’s a tragedy that so many people (including some doctors) lump them in with the “foods that must go” when you are trying to lose weight.
Fruits, even sweet fruits like bananas, mangoes and grapes aren’t just made up of sugar or carbohydrates. They provide excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They contain lots of fiber, which slows down digestion so that you don’t get hit with a sugar rush, like you would drinking a bottle of soda.
While it is good practice to limit added sugars, sweet fruits don’t count as added dietary sugar because they are whole foods. (If you are diabetic, however, you may still need to limit your intake of carbohydrates from all sources – including fruit.)
Carbs Don’t Make You Fat, Excess Calories Do
Excess calories, rather than carbohydrates, are the cause of weight gain. Calories provide energy for your body, but excess calories are stored as fat. It doesn’t matter if these calories come from pizza (high-carb) or prime rib (low-carb). There is nothing special about a banana that makes fat cling to your hips. It’s not the sugar or carbohydrate, it’s excess calories from your overall, daily eating habits.
Fundamentally, weight loss is about reducing total calorie intake to create a deficit, which forces your body to burn accumulated fat as fuel.
So it really doesn’t matter if you go on a low-carb diet or a high-carb diet, you still need to cut calories to an appropriate level to facilitate weight loss.
Low carb diets are often promoted for weight loss because most high-carbohydrate foods are unhealthy. They are loaded with added sugars, refined wheat flour, trans-fats. They don’t fill you up or satisfy you. They make it very easy to go overboard on calories. It’s easy to tell people to avoid carbs.
Fresh fruits (and green smoothies), on the other hand, contain no added sugars, fats or refined ingredients. While a blueberry muffin the size of your fist might contain 600+ calories, it would take 60 ounces or more of a blueberry green smoothie to match that amount of calories. I bet you’d certainly feel it if you tried to drink that much!
A 32-ounce green smoothie meal replacement will help you feel full and satisfied. The sweet fruit will help curb your cravings for sweets (without all of the negative effects of added sugars). And you’ve only consumed about 350-400 calories for your breakfast (a great start).
My High-Carb Weight Loss Experience
I lost about 40 pounds back in 2008 with green smoothies and a whole foods diet. In fact, the MORE fresh fruits and vegetables I ate, the easier it was for me to lose weight and effortlessly maintain my ideal weight. I effortless dropped the baby weight after the birth of my adorable son back in 2013. In fact, here’s a photo of me rocking a flat stomach and holding up my favorite weight loss foods – mangoes and bananas! Do I look pudgy to you?
I have done both low-carb and high-carb diets. I was able to lose weight with the Atkin’s diet, but I was often frustrated about what I couldn’t eat. Eating low-carb is difficult and cravings were a constant struggle. My mood was poor and I was ready to give up the diet once I got down to my weight goal (which, by the way was 20 pounds more than my current weight). In short, I didn’t find the low-carb diet sustainable and I gained all the weight back once I stopped dieting.
With my current high-carb diet, I have maintained my current ideal weight since 2008. I’ve helped many others lose weight with green smoothies and a whole foods as well.
Stop Fretting Over Fruit Carbs And Focus On Eating Whole Foods
Green smoothies and fresh fruits, in conjunction with a whole foods diet with normal amounts of protein (I follow USDA recommendations of .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight) and moderate exercise is an excellent weight loss diet.
The low-carb, high-protein fad diets tend to get promoted because it’s easier to tell somebody to eat tons of meat to lose weight than it is to tell them to eat their fruits and veggies. It’s not the high intake of protein (and fat) that causes weight loss. It’s the removal of pasta, pizza and cookies – foods that sneak hundreds or even thousands of calories into your meals.
It is hard to stay committed to restrictive, low-carb diets. Our bodies are wired to want carbohydrates. We crave sweet flavors, and it is perfectly healthy to indulge that sweet tooth with healthy, fresh fruits. Green smoothies and a sweet fruits satisfy your cravings, provide fuel for exercise, and still help you lose weight.
If you’d like to know exactly what I eat and how I lost 40 pounds with green smoothies and whole foods, then check out my RESET 28 program. It comes with a 28-day meal plan, energy-boosting workouts, strategies for losing weight, and a private support group.
Tracy Russell is the creator of RESET 28: A 28-Day Program For Energy, Weight Loss & A Healthy Glow, and founder of Incredible Smoothies. She has been helping people take control of their health and well being with green smoothies, a whole foods diet, and fitness since 2009.