People always ask me all the time if smoothies and/or protein shakes are a good idea? They worry about them having too many calories or sugar or if ‘drinking their calories is OK’? These are valid concerns and need to be considered but at the end of the day, smoothies or protein shakes don’t have to be loaded down with calories. Smoothies are not the same as ‘weight gainers’ that body builders often use, nor are they the same as milkshakes. It all boils down to the quality, and portions, of the ingredients used to make them.
Amp up your smoothie or protein shake – it’s easy !!
Smoothies are a great way to get a concentrated source of nutrition. They can be based on low-fat milk, fortified soy, almond, rice or hemp beverage. I’m also OK with a small amount of 100% fruit juice, it only takes 1/2 cup to get a good dose of nutrition from say, mango nectar. The shake can always be thinned with water Alternatively you can use water, cooled tea for a boost of phytonutrients or if you’re trying to up your potassium intake as basically everyone body should be, then coconut water is an awesome choice too.
Other nutrition upgrades for your smoothies include:
Ground flax, ground or whole chia or Salba seed: for added fiber, minerals, protein, vitamin E and essential fats. These seeds also help to increase the sense of satiety, or the decrease in hunger after a meal, which my help you to control your appetite. These seeds are also a great source of prebiotics; fibers that help the growth of beneficial bacteria in our gut. Flax seeds are also one of the richest sources of a type of polyphenol called lignans; once consumed, they are converted by our bacteria to the compounds enterolignans, enterodiol and enterolactone which have been shown to protect against hormone-related cancers (breast, prostate), osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease.
Rolled oats: for fiber, phytonutrients, and slowly-released carbohydrate. They also have magnesium, potassium, vitamin E and like the chia and flax seeds, can help to control appetite. Rolled oats also provide a source of prebiotic fiber for our eager and hungry gut bacteria.
Protein powder: lots of choices such as whey, fermented soy, hemp, pea, or brown rice. When does have the added benefit of being the richest source of the branched chain amino acids leucine, valine, and isoleucine, as well as, being rich in cysteine which the liver uses to produce glutathione, a potent antioxidant and master detoxifier.
Pasteurized egg whites: pure protein through and through.
Nut & seed butters (almond, peanut, cashew, pumpkin, sunflower etc): for vitamin E, monounsaturated fats for long-lasting energy and protein, plus the minerals potassium & magnesium, and countless phytonutrients to reduce inflammation.
Green foods (wheat grass, spriulina, barley grass, chlorella etc): adds more things than can be listed in this post such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phyto-nutrients, enzymes and protein to list a few: a broad range of health promoting ingredients.
Berries: for antioxidants and phyto-nutrients; compounds that can turn off disease-promoting genes and turn on disease-fighting genes
Fish oil: most liquid fish oils are lemon, apple, mango or orange flavoured with no fishy taste – 1 tsp will give an optimal dose of these health promoting fats and a yummy taste to boot!
Wheatgerm: vitamin E, phyto-nutrients and polyphenols, phosphorus and potassium.
Raw cacao powder: super intense chocolate flavour, magnesium, manganese and polyphenols that benefit the entire cardiovascular system
Canned pumpkin, or cooled leftover cooked carrots, sweet potato, squash:including more vegetables doesn’t get any easier than this, and you won’t taste it. A great way to get more fiber, and carotenoids like beta, and alpha carotene.
Thawed frozen spinach, or cooled, leftover cooked spinach, kale, collard greens: again, more vegetables, and you’ll get a good dose of potassium, magnesium and the carotenoid lutein, a plant pigment that great reduces the risk for macular degeneration, the leading caused of blindness in those over 50.