If you started drinking green juice or green smoothies, that’s great. In fact, that’s amazing: this entire blog is about the power of plants, superfoods, and all the incredible things nutrition -and especially greens- do for your health!
However, if you’ve started to add a green smoothie to your routine and have had trouble keeping off (or shedding!) weight, especially around your waist, it could be as simple as going over your daily calorie intake.
Green Smoothies can turn into sneaky sugar or calorie traps - if you’re not careful!
While we don't think you need to count calories to achieve your weight goals, it is a simple “amount in” vs. “amount out game.”
This is true for fat and sugar as well, you need both to survive and create energy, but if you consume more than you burn, then it is likely to set up camp around the good ole belly. Therefore, the ingredients of your green smoothie and the kind of activity or lifestyle lead have a direct impact on your weight loss journey.
Because the possibility of weight gain or weight retention exists while drinking green smoothies, we put together a list of tips to add easy green juice smoothie recipes to your day without adding on the pounds.
Some Facts (and Myths) About Green Smoothies
If you want to avoid rapid weight gain from your green drink, it’s important that you get clear on the myths and facts surrounding green juice and those easy green smoothies you pick up at the store.
Related: check out the other sneaky causes of weight gain that may be keeping your body goals at bay.
Fact: Liquefied Foods Are Absorbed Fast!
The digestion process begins at the mouth and ends in the gut (small intestines,) your green smoothie is extremely easy to digest; it asks very little of the stomach to break things up. Most of the nutrients in a green juice go straight to the bloodstream as soon as they are ingested, that’s why we often recommend to drink them on an empty stomach.
Fact: Green Juice Smoothies Pack a Pound!
Most green smoothies can pack a lot -even a pound- of produce, which is more than most people would eat raw in any given day.
- The Pro? You can get two or more of those five necessary servings of fruits and vegetables in one tasty go.
- The Con? If you’re not mindful of the ingredients, you can accidentally add calories, carbohydrates, fat, and sugar to your daily intake which you then need to burn. Not burning them = fat storage.
Myth: “Green Smoothies Are Not Calorie Dense”
This can be both a myth and a fact; in general, because smoothies and green juices are made of fruits and vegetables, they are not very calorie dense. However, they can become calorie dense depending on the ingredients (fruits, vegetables, nuts, proteins.)
This means that a 16 OZ easy green smoothie recipe can range from just 100 to 420 calories. If you have the latter in addition to your usual meals and move very little throughout the day… you do the math.
Myth: “Smoothies Have No Sugar in Them”
All juices, green juices, and smoothies have sugar in them; fruits and vegetables contain natural sugars. This is a good thing since we need it to survive and thrive, your green drink may not have added sugar in it, but there will always be some.
If extra sugar was added to the mix, the amount of sugar in your green beverage would be proportionally greater. Considering that the nutrients (including sugar) go straight to your blood flow, it’s important to pay attention to this fact. As a rule of thumb, you want the number of vegetables to outweigh the fruits in your drink of choice.
Myth: The Way the Green Smoothie Was Made Makes No Difference
The way your fruits and vegetables were processed: juiced, blended, cold-pressed, or dehydrated matter.
Juiced: extracts water and nutrients, removes insoluble fiber and makes the digestion process easier. Because it removes fiber when the content is only fruit, it’s important to consider sugar spikes if you have diabetes or a metabolic disorder.
Blended: grinds the ingredients of your green smoothie while maintaining the nutrients and fiber, it is less smooth than juiced greens and therefore less attractive to people who heavily dislike veggies. The fiber helps you regulate sugar spikes so it may be better for those with diabetes or metabolic disorders.
Cold Pressed: this method doesn’t create or utilize any heat; therefore, it retains 100% of the live enzymes, vitamins, and minerals from the produce. These are great when they don’t have a lot of added sugar in them - just check the labels!
- Dehydrated: fresh is best but what's next? Dehydrated. Dehydrated fruits and vegetables retain the nutritional value of the raw source and make it extremely easy for people to consume and absorb; just mix with water and go.
Glad we cleared that up, now let’s get to the juicy stuff (pun intended!)
Avoid Weight Gain While Drinking Green Smoothies:
# 1 Watch Out for Sugar Traps
As you now know all green smoothies have some sugar in them, however store-bought and even cold-pressed juices from your favorite juice bar may have lots of hidden sugars in it.
Learn how to tell if your fitness drink is as healthy as you think to identify the sneaky names extra added sugar has when the provider doesn’t want to flat out say “sugar.”
How to do It?
- Make sure that your drink has more vegetables in it than fruits.
- Go for low sugar veggies for a base like kale, spinach, mustard leaf, cucumber or zucchini.
- Avoid bananas for a while if you’re on a weight loss journey - eat them instead!
- Use sweeter veggies to add flavor like carrots or beets.
- Try low-sugar berries like blueberries or blackberries to sweeten your drink and get lots of antioxidants.
- Avoid drinks with 30 grams of carbs, unless you’re replacing a meal.
#2 Know Your Serving Sizes
Chugging 24 oz smoothies from the store may feel healthy, but it may actually be two to three servings in one glass! Simply put: you’re eating more than you realize. The ideal serving size for a weight loss smoothie should be between 8 oz and 10 oz.
How to do It?
- Look for 8-10 oz smoothie options or easy green juice smoothie recipes.
- If you get a larger drink freeze the rest for later.
- Order the small or kid’s size if you’re at a juice bar or restaurant.
- Ask the number of ounces per glass! You may order to go and not know how much you’re getting, once it’s in your hands you’ll drink it.
- Prepare it yourself! Or opt our green juice on the go packs and either drink in water or add to unsweetened plant-based milk (almond or coconut!)
#3 Turn Them into Meal Replacements
If you’re on a weight loss journey, consider turning your easy green smoothie into a meal replacement adding complete protein powder and having it for breakfast. This will help you stay full for longer, get your greens in, and reach your ideal-body goals faster.
#4 Watch the Time
Sugar and nutrients are processed by the body according to the time of ingestion and day’s activity. Think of it like this, if you have a shot of espresso right before bed you’ll probably have a hard time sleeping.
Your green juice smoothie is not different: have it before or after some physical activity (as opposed to right before calling it in) so your body can have a better chance to burn the sugars in it and send the nutrients to the organs and tissues that need it most during the day. The better the absorption process, the smaller the sugar spike that leads to tiredness and snack-hunger.
#5 Slow the Fun Down
We know drinking green juice is like taking a (natural) energy-boosting medicine a and you love to just chug it down in two gulps, but this may actually leave you hungry. This leads to other snacks which you may think are healthy but could pack on the fat and sugars like bananas and nut packs.
It is better to have a healthy drink or some fruit instead of the chips from the vending machine, but if you want that belly bloat to go - small sips is the way to go!
#6 Count it, Even if It’s Not a Meal Replacement
We’re not big on calorie counting, but if you think it’s just like drinking water and you don’t consider you already had a juice when it’s time to pick your next meal or snack, you might accidentally overdo your caloric and sugar/fat intake for the day.
It's all about mindful consumption. Remind yourself you had or are going to have that smoothie or juice and you'll be just fine!
Understanding how nutrition works in your favor and using these super easy tips, you’ll get the most out of your mean green drinks without putting on extra weight.
Make sure you mix your smoothies with activity and that you’re getting at least 150 minutes of light to moderate exercise every week; it will help you stay healthy and get to your goals faster. Make your life easy and try our Organifi Green Juice as an easy way to make a low calorie - high nutrient shake or easy green smoothie that supports your weight management and health goals!