Posted On Mar 16, 2017
By Louise Montemaro
We’re always on a quest to to find healthy diet options that don’t sacrifice flavor. B Nutritious founder Brooke Alpert takes us down the path to body-boosting, smoothie-making success.
Delicious and seemingly innocuous,smoothies incite a surprising amount of debate over whether or not we can truly classify them “healthy.” Three types of people tend to weigh in on the to-smoothie or not-to-smoothie debate: There’s the casual sipper, who feels that a blend of the best fruits and flavors on a hot summer day is perfection. There’s the fitness drinker, who sees smoothies as a cocktail of protein, power, and maximum energy. And then there’s the critical naysayer, who argues that the concoction is nothing but a blended nutritional disaster.
The bottom line: Smoothies can be a powerful source of protein, fiber, and vitamins, but all of those benefits can be mired in an overload of synthetic protein shots and sugar. According to Brooke Alpert, MS, RD, CDN, and author of The Sugar Detox Diet, sugar content and size are key, and the health debate must be moderated on a smoothie-by-smoothie basis. “All smoothies shouldn’t be grouped together,”Alpert says. “Often, purchased products end up a sugar detox no-no because they have too many servings of high sugar fruits, plus other types of sweeteners—all on top of being too big of a serving size.”
Sugar is making headlines lately, and not for sweet reasons. Experts like Alpert call it the new “controlled substance,” and critics have subsequently deemed smoothies unhealthy based on the sugar additives that many stores use in their recipes. This “drug,” some experts say, poisons society by contributing to obesity, leading to advanced skin aging and acne breakouts, and causing preventable diseases. Americans individually consume nearly 31 pounds of the sweet substance each year. What’s worse, sugar goes by many different names —and when one is not careful, it will slip in unnoticed.
Sugar by any other name…
Fruit and dairy, the two major components of smoothies, are already sources of sugar and protein, so it’s important to know exactly what else is going into the blender before the straw hits your mouth. Major chains use names like “power,” “supercharged,” “energy,” and “shape up” to suggest that these protein-charged options are the perfect choice for a pre- or post-workout boost. According to Marion Nestle, Food Politics blogger and a professor at the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, this is not necessarily true. “Americans are hardly lacking in protein, and no supplements are needed.”
These “power options” often consist of blends or shots that contain a mix of whey concentrate, soy protein, and egg protein, and often contain 50 percent— or more—of daily protein needs. This translates into fat storage, not muscle building, when consumed in excess of the daily recommended allowance. The safest option? Ask: “What did you put in there?” Alpert adds, “Be sure to take a look at what the added sugars are. Nix the agave, syrups, and cane sugars. If you’re opting for a smoothie with a dairy substitute, make sure it’s an unsweetened option.” (Ever seen the word turbinado and wondered what it was? You guessed it: Sugar.)
The best—and perhaps most delicious—way to ensure high quality fusions is to pull out the blender and whip up your own concoction. For Alpert, the best smoothies don’t require more than four ingredients, and choosing the fruit is an important first step. “Bananas, pineapple, watermelon, and dates are all high-sugar fruits and are not allowed on ‘The Sugar Detox’ because of the sugar content,” she says.
The smoothie fan who craves a sweet flavor, the weight lifter looking for a pick-me-up, and even the fault finder who doesn’t trust juice-stand ingredients can each get everything they want from this delicious meal replacement. They just need to demand the best ingredients from their favorite smoothie shop—or simply blend at home.
1 cup Lifeway Low-Fat plain kefir
½ cup frozen raspberries
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp chia seeds
“The major bonus in this smoothie is the chia seeds. Chia seeds are a great source of antioxidants plus a major source of omega-3 fatty acids.”
PB and Apple
½ apple, chopped and softened in microwave (in a bowl with a splash of water for 1 minute)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 cup 2% milk
“The combination in this smoothie makes for a tasty yet satiating snack or meal because of all the protein and fat from the peanut butter, plus the fiber from the apples. All still so low in sugar!”
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tbsp hemp protein powder
½ cup frozen blueberries
“The powder is a double punch of satisfying protein, plus healthy fats and the avocado adds even more monounsaturated fat, which can help keep your waistline thin, your heart healthy and your skin glowing.”
½ cup Greek yogurt
½ cup frozen peaches
1 tsp powdered ginger
Optional: ice cubes for desired consistency
“Ginger is a powerful spice. It has anti glycating properties, which means it can help prevent skin aging and damage to collagen.”