You’ve been drinking green smoothies every day for the past few weeks. Now you’re shocked after getting on the scale only to find that you gained weight, or you didn’t lose a single ounce! What gives?
Green smoothies are a phenomenal weight loss tool. I myself have lost 40 pounds with the help of green smoothies, and thousands of my readers have also lost weight. However, some people don’t get the result they were expecting.
Here are 7 things to consider if a daily green smoothie habit has resulted in weight gain or no weight loss at all:
1) You Gained Muscle and Lost Body Fat
It could be that you have lost body fat while gaining muscle. If you lost inches but not weight, this is what likely happened and it’s a good thing! So take your measurements and don’t just rely on a number on the scale. You will lose weight, just be patient.
Muscle growth is essential for healthy, long-term weight loss. And any temporary gain or plateau you are experiencing now due to muscle growth will quickly turn into additional body fat loss and a lower number on the scale.
2) The Rest Of Your Diet Needs Work.
Green smoothies are great, but they won’t undo fast food lunches, daily candy indulgences, or the sausage with extra cheese pizza you had this past weekend. If you are consuming excess calories in your diet, you will gain weight. Pay attention to the rest of your diet and consider replacing some foods with healthier alternatives, and taking up a fitness routine.
3) Too Much Sugar.
No, I’m NOT talking about “too much” banana, strawberry or grapes in your green smoothies here. Fruits contain naturally-occurring sugars, which do not directly cause weight gain. In fact, there is no scientific evidence that the sugars in fruits are problematic at all. The World Health Organization, American Heart Association and the Institute of Medicine all specifically state that naturally-occurring sugars in fruits DO NOT need to be restricted in the diet, or counted toward sugar intake. * Sugar intake guidelines are for added sugars only.
BUT, if you are adding dates, maple syrup, agave “nectar” (it’s a syrup, too!), honey (yes, “healthy”, natural honey), or even fruit juices, then you are turning your healthy green smoothie into a sugar bomb full of added sugars! If you make the recipes that I post on Incredible Smoothies and the Facebook page, then you shouldn’t feel the need to add sugar to these fruit-sweetened creations. If you do, give your taste buds time to adapt to less sweet foods and your body will thank you with a lower risk of developing diabetes and other added sugar-related health issues.
* People with diabetes may still need to limit or restrict intake of all carbohydrates, including carbohydrates from fruit. However, there is no medical evidence that fruit intake causes diabetes (or weight gain), and no legitimate scientific organization advocates for healthy people to avoid or limit fruit intake.
4) Too Much Fat.
Fat is calorie dense. One gram of fat contains 9 calories, so putting a lot of fat in your green smoothie could dramatically up the calorie content, turning an otherwise weight loss shake into a 500+ calorie diet disaster.
Here’s the thing: If you swap out a banana for an avocado, you’re replacing a 121 calorie (for a medium banana) food with a 322 calorie food. Oh, but what about adding a little coconut oil to your smoothie? 117 calories per tablespoon! Yikes!
Now I’m not one to be alarmist with things like calories. 117 or 322 calories is nothing to be alarmed at. But when these calorie-dense foods are added to a green smoothie – BAM! – now you are drinking a 600+ calorie breakfast! No wonder your otherwise healthy diet is packing on the pounds.
5) Not Enough Protein.
When you make a meal-replacement green smoothie, I recommend making sure there are at least 10 grams of protein. Adding a scoop of your favorite protein powder will more than double or even triple that amount. Now you don’t have to get all crazy about protein – we’re not all bodybuilders here, but adding a little protein to your green smoothies helps you feel full and satisfied until your next meal.
So make sure that you make your green smoothies with plant foods that naturally contain protein (kale and other leafy greens, chia seeds, goji berries, fruit – yes, fruits have protein and it adds up). And don’t hesitate to add a scoop of protein powder.
6) Not Enough Calories.
Just as having too many calories will put on weight, consuming too few calories can set you up for failure. If you are hungry, you are more likely to succumb to temptation for unhealthy foods. A diet that is too low in calories can also lead to nutrient deficiencies.
Don’t be afraid of 350 calorie meal-replacement green smoothies. A green smoothie isn’t a meal if it is filled with cucumber (47 calories) and blueberries (43 calories per 1/2 cup), or if it is veggie-based (with little or no fruit). Use a calorie-tracking app like Cron-o-Meter to ensure that you are meeting your calorie requirements and not going over (or under) them.
7) Hidden Calories In Your Green Smoothies.
As with fats like coconut oil and avocado, other traditional smoothie foods can add calories to your green smoothies. Using yogurt as a base can add anywhere from 100-250 calories per 8-ounce serving. Using one cup (237 ml) of milk can add 84-150 extra calories. A tablespoon of honey adds 64 calories to your smoothie (and a lot of added sugars).
To be safe, stick to fruits, leafy greens, water or plant-based milks (like almond milk) and protein powder (if desired) – keep your green smoothies simple!
Remember that weight loss isn’t always about numbers on the scale. Don’t forget to take your measurements because losing inches around your waist and hips is often a better indication of healthy fat loss. (You want to lose body fat, not just weight!)
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.