Green smoothies are a hallmark symbol for health and wellness. In active communities such as Vancouver, it’s just as common to see people walking down the street with a green smoothie in a mason jar as it is a Starbucks cup. But with all the nutrients and weight-loss promoting benefits green smoothies provide, can they really have the reverse effect and cause weight gain?
Let’s first preface the following information by acknowledging that each person’s body reacts differently to different foods. Some people thrive off green smoothies as part of a weight loss regime and feel energized after drinking one. Others may get bloated from drinking green smoothies and feel sluggish. Since green smoothies contain high amounts of fructose (natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables), your body’s reaction to green smoothies typically depends on your body’s blood sugar regulation. If you have a blood sugar sensitivity or imbalance, you may be more likely- although it’s not guaranteed you will- to gain weight from green smoothies.
The Blood Sugar and Green Smoothie Connection
We all know that fruits and vegetables are the healthiest foods on the planet for countless reasons. Their life-giving nutrients provide the body with antioxidants, plant-based protein, and fiber. The fibre in whole fruits and veggies also helps to slow the release of fructose into the bloodstream and stabilizes blood sugar levels. But when fruits and vegetables are blended, their fibre is broken down and fructose becomes more concentrated. This causes a quick surge in blood sugar levels, and when too much sugar enters the bloodstream at once, the body receives a signal to store the excess sugar as fat.
Is There Too Much Sugar in Your Green Smoothie?
When making a green smoothie, it should be primarily veggie based and blended with fruits lower in sugar such as berries, pears, and apples. There’s nothing wrong with throwing a banana or some pineapple in your smoothie either, just be sure to even it out with vegetables such as spirulina, greens, cucumber and celery to avoid a blood sugar spike.
Another reason one might gain weight from drinking green smoothies is by including processed juice concentrates or flavored yogurts. Both of these add extra sugar and empty calories to your smoothie. Ideally, you’ll make your smoothies only from fresh fruit, veggies, plant-based sources of protein, healthy fats, and water.
And lastly, drinking green smoothies on top of a diet already high in sugar can also promote weight gain. In this case, it’s not likely that the green smoothie is the problem. Try removing all processed foods made from white flour or sugar from your diet before saying adios to your green smoothie.
Tips to Avoid Gaining Weight from Green Smoothies
If you suspect you have a blood sugar imbalance or have noticed some weight gain since drinking green smoothies, don’t remove them from your diet completely. Instead, tweak a few things! The key to avoiding weight gain from green smoothies is simply to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
-Use a maximum of 2 pieces of low sugar fruits in your smoothies (pears, berries and apples)
- Include a good source of protein or healthy fats to help slow the release of fructose into the bloodstream. Avocado, hemp hearts, a vegan protein blend and Salba chia seeds are all excellent choices that stabilize blood sugar levels and add extra nutrients to your smoothie.
- Sip your smoothie. While it can be tempting to chug down a refreshing green smoothie, sipping on your green drink can further help to prevent a blood sugar spike.