You've probably said it. After a big summer barbecue, or following a Thanksgiving feast, we've all felt that twinge of regret and moaned, "I feel so fat." But what are we supposed to do about it? There are so many mixed messages floating around about how to lose weight, get fit and feel great. Not only is it hard to know what to do, but once we find a program that makes sense, life happens. It's just too hard to keep up the regimen.
That's where smoothies come in. If prepared right, smoothies are delicious, portable and easy to make. Best of all, they could be the key to helping you shed those extra pounds.
Do They Work?
Purdue University researchers Susan Swithers and Terry Davidson gave two groups of subjects a chocolate meal supplement for 30 days; Group A had liquid and Group B received a semi-solid. Thirty days later, Group A had gained more weight, leading Swithers and Davidson to believe that Group B more accurately identified the calories they were eating because their snack was thicker. This means our bodies recognize thicker liquids, such as smoothies, as food.
But calling a chocolate milkshake a smoothie doesn't make it healthy, and it certainly doesn't ensure weight loss. Smoothies can be packed with nutrients without all the calories, but you need to know how to make them.
The popularity of protein powders has escalated in recent years, and with good reason. One scoop of whey protein powder adds only 120 calories to your smoothie but promises a hefty 23 g of protein. This means you'll be fuller longer. Protein powders also come in a variety of flavors such as vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.
Don't want to pay the often steep price for powdered protein? Pour 1 cup of skim milk in your blender instead. Better yet, opt for nonfat vanilla yogurt. Steven Pratt, M.D., author of the bestseller Superfoods RX, says the protein in yogurt is more readily digestible than in milk.
Heavy on Fruit
We've all heard the "Five A Day" requirement for fruits and vegetables, but it can be difficult and expensive to consume enough fresh fruit each day. Juice is one answer, but it lacks the fiber of whole fruit, which is a critical element of sustained weight loss.
Frozen fruit is a great alternative. Make a habit of purchasing bags of frozen strawberries, mangoes, pineapples and peaches. Bananas, an excellent source of potassium, freeze well, too; just cut them up and store in a plastic bag.
Sweeter than Honey?
If you like your smoothies sweet, try honey. According to the National Honey Board, honey is rich in antioxidants, which can slow the effects of aging. Not only that, but it is all-natural and an excellent source of pure energy. It is actually sweeter than sugar, so you can use less of it.
Protein-Packed Berry Smoothie for Weight Loss
To make a berry smoothie, combine 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, half of a frozen banana, 1 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt and 1 tsp. honey. Mix in a blender until smooth, or about one minute.
This smoothie has 240 calories, 15.2 g of protein, 1 g of fat and 55 g of carbohydrates.
Chocoholic Power Smoothie
For chocolate lovers, try this power smoothie. Combine 1 scoop of chocolate whey protein powder, 1 cup skim milk, 1 cup strawberries and ice. Mix in a blender until smooth.
This smoothie has 250 calories, 30.2 g of protein, 3 g of fat and 27 g of carbohydrates.