Green smoothies are an ideal fat burning food as they are nutrient-rich, loaded with fiber and low in fat. However, there is an art to making a weight loss smoothie. These seven tips will help you create the perfect weight loss shake.
Tip #1: Start with water or plant milks. Water or plant milks like almond, coconut, hemp and cashew milk are low in fat and calories. Almond milk helps give your weight loss green smoothie a creamy texture, while making it more filling. It’s also very easy to make.
While it might be tempting to use milk or yogurt, I don’t recommend using these foods in green smoothies. You can get a lot of calcium from the leafy greens that you add. Use 2-3 cups of dandelion greens or kale along with oranges, kiwifruit, figs and a tablespoon of chia seeds to make a smoothie that has more calcium than a glass of milk.
Tip #2: Add a pinch of healthy fat. Add 1/4 of an avocado, or a tablespoon of chia seeds or flaxseed, or some fresh young coconut to give your smoothie some heart healthy fats. Nut milks are good, too! Fat doesn’t make you fat. Healthy, plant-based fats are good for you and can help you lose weight.
Keep the fat content low, however, as too much fat and fruit in the same green smoothie might cause gas and bloating. Fat is also a dense source of calories. While calories from whole foods are better for you, too many calories from any source may sabotage your weight loss efforts.
Tip #3: Sweeten it with fruit. Don’t be afraid to use bananas, mangoes, grapes and other sweet fruit in a weight loss green smoothie. These fruits will sweeten your smoothies without presenting a problem for weight loss. The naturally-occurring sugars found in fruits do not cause weight gain.
Skip the honey, agave and maple syrup. Any concentrated sugars will turn a healthy, weight loss smoothie into a sugar bomb. Refined and concentrated, processed sugar will hinder your ability to lose weight. If you absolutely must add a sweetener to your smoothie, try dates. However, wean yourself off of them as soon as you can since dates are a dried food with concentrated sugars.
Tip #4: Use a quality protein powder. Feel free to use a quality, plant-based protein powder in your green smoothies. Protein powder boosts the protein content, and it helps you feel full and satisfied. I use NutriBiotic vegan rice protein powder in my green smoothies.
Tip #5: Make it a meal. I have found it very effective to use green smoothies as a meal replacement. Replacing one meal each day with a smoothie is an easy way to lower daily calorie intake. It also increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables while boosting your water and fiber intake – all great things for weight loss.
Most recipes that I post on my website have around 350 calories. This is NOT a lot of calories for a weight loss meal. My green smoothie meals fill me up without making me hungry (and susceptible to cravings) an hour later.
Tip #6: Stick with fresh, whole foods. Fresh fruits, vegetables and dark leafy greens are packed full of fiber, naturally water rich, and full of micronutrients that boost your metabolism. If you are looking to save money, buy frozen fruits or buy fresh in bulk and freeze for later use. Avoid canned fruit as it is often soaked in syrup and nutritionally inferior to fresh fruit.
Tip #7: Don’t rely only on green smoothies for weight loss. Green smoothies can certainly help you lose weight, but a long-term change in diet and lifestyle will provide long term results.
While green smoothies were instrumental in my 40-pound weight loss, I could not have gained all of the health benefits and reached my weight loss goal without also cleaning up other areas of my diet. I have found that green smoothies work best when they are part of a balanced, whole foods diet. (Read more about what I eat when I’m not drinking green smoothies.)
The Best Weight Loss Smoothie Foods
All fruits and vegetables are going to be great for weight loss, but there are a few that stand out in the crowd. Foods that are low in calories and high in fiber are going to kickstart weight loss.
Some of the best ingredients to add to your weight loss smoothies are grapefruit, pumpkin, kale, apples (with skin), blueberries, pomegranates, chia seeds, raspberries, pears (with skin), strawberries, bananas, oranges, broccoli, celery, cucumber, carrots and all leafy greens. Even raw oats can provide a filing texture to a green smoothie while adding protein, healthy fat and fiber.
Weight Loss Smoothie Ratio
A good ratio of fruits to greens that I recommend for weight loss smoothies is this: 2 pieces of fruit (a banana and apple, for example) to 2 or 3 cups (packed) of leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards) and 8 ounces of water or homemade nut milk. Add either a tablespoon of chia seeds (soaked in water for 5 minutes), 1/4 avocado or 1/4 cup of raw oats. Finish with a scoop of protein powder, if desired.
Here are some of my favorite weight loss green smoothie recipes:
Kickstart weight loss by joining my FREE 21-day Green Smoothie Boot Camp! You’ll get weekly green smoothie recipes, grocery shopping lists, and lots of motivation!
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.