Okay, so I used a handful of "purples" (organic purple kale), but they were green at heart!
While I prefer people to chew their food, smoothies are a great way to compile dense nutritious goodness, in a form that's easy to prepare, and great for on-the-go.
Many of my patients come to me already making morning smoothies, but they are often not terribly balanced in macronutrients. Sometimes they're only fruit, which is great for vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and a bit of fiber, but high in sugar and lacking protein and healthy fats. For all your meals, it's good to include each macronutrient- protein, fiber, healthy fats, and carbs- but especially the former 3 to stabilize blood sugar.
Swings in blood sugar can lead to fatigue, brain fog, hunger and cravings (especially for carbs/sugar), among many other symptoms. To prevent these swings, which will prevent your mid-morning crash, we need to stabilize blood sugar. How do we do that? Keep the simple carbs minimal, and the protein, fiber, healthy fats as the basis of your meal.
So how precisely does one make their smoothie a balanced meal? With my Balanced Smoothie Blueprint!:
- 2 tbsp Hemp Hearts
- .5-1 Scoop Protein Powder
- Handful (or more!) of Greens
- 1 tsp of fresh/powdered turmeric or ginger
- 1/2 c. Berries + Water (to your desired consistency).
Why this is great:
- Hemp hearts are easily digestible seeds that are packed with excellent protein, fiber, and very healthy omega-3s.
- Turmeric/Ginger are harmonizers to make the smoothie (especially when frozen fruits are used) more warm and digestible, plus they're both anti-inflammatory!
- Greens and berries are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that are amazing for most aspects of our health! They also have a low glycemic index and load, not affecting our blood sugar.
- Protein powder is a great way to get a huge dose of protein in the morning, to keep blood sugar stable, and keep appetite satiated until lunch. It's very important to get enough protein, and in my experience most people are not getting enough. To calculate the amount you should be consuming per day, follow the appropriate formula:
For sedentary: (Weight in Kg) x 0.8 = Grams of Protein/Day.
For moderately active: (Weight in Kg) x 1.0 = Grams of Protein/Day.
For athletes: (Weight in Kg) x 1.2 = Grams of Protein/Day
- I find smoothies are a great place to "hide" a bunch of greens since often they can get buried in the other goodness, and their bitterness can actually complement the intense sweetness of some protein powders. Spinach and kale are great since their flavour tends to be milder than other greens. Greens are so packed with excellent antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, so I recommend putting them in any meal that you can!
- Likewise with berries, packed with similar awesomeness to the greens, including incredible antioxidant capacity, and being low glycemic fruits (they won't send your blood sugar for a wild ride), they're a great way to make the smoothies as nutrient-dense as possible (not to mention delicious)! Other fruits are great, as well, but berries are my top choice for the aforementioned reasons.
Substitutions and Additions:
- The hemp hearts are great since they have excellent protein, fiber and fat, but if you don't have hemp heart access then I would recommend adding some avocado to the smoothie. Avocado is high in healthy fats, and since you are getting the protein and fiber in the protein powder, fruits and veggies, the avocado will nicely replace the missing fat. It will also contribute a grand creaminess to your smoothies.
- If you put the hemp hearts or avocado in, add 1-2 tbsp of turmeric and a pinch of black pepper. Turmeric is an excellent antiinflammatory, supports liver function, and helps stabilize blood sugar. The active constituent in turmeric, curcumin, needs fat to be absorbed (such as that in the hemp hearts/avocado). Black pepper increases absorption further, in case you'd like to spice it up.
- If your protein powder tastes terrible (I accidentally bought many kilos of unflavoured pea protein, so I feel ya), add a banana to boost the sweetness, then cover up with the other ingredients mentioned (tons of berries!). Like the avocado, bananas also make the smoothie thicker/creamier.
For more detail on protein powder types and protein in general, see my blog on Protein Procurement!
Let me know how much better you feel with a powerful balanced smoothie in your life! Smoothies can be a great start to your day (or midday snack, dessert, etc), but if you need more help with a balanced diet, feel free to book an appointment!