In your quest for optimal health, it’s important to not only look at the specific foods you’re eating, but also how you are preparing those specific foods.
The meals that you cook on a day to day basis will influence your energy, your health, and your ability to recover from any exercise you’re doing.
There’s one particular type of meal that I would highly recommend every individual consume in their menu: smoothies.
I consider smoothies to be the perfect nutritional delivery system since you can virtually control every element of them. Want more protein? Simply add more protein rich ingredients in. Need a reduced fat smoothie before a big workout? That’s no problem either.
With smoothies, you are in complete control. You can easily customize these so that they fit with your overall nutritional plan perfectly.
What’s more is that when you need to get the nutrients to your body tissues faster, taking them in liquid format will be advantageous. Your body will basically be skipping a step in the breakdown process, thus you’ll speed the delivery of the amino acids, glucose, and fatty acids to every cell that needs it.
Check out the video below to find out more about why I consider smoothies (also referred to as ‘shakes’) the optimal vehicle to deliver your body powerful nutrition.
Before we get started talking about what your smoothies should contain, let’s go into a few more details about the benefits of using smoothies in your diet program.
Benefits That Smoothies Offer
Smoothies are great for a number of different reasons. Just about everyone can benefit from including smoothies as part of their day.
They’re Fast To Prepare
Need a breakfast in minutes? A smoothie will fit the bill perfectly. When you’re in a rush to head out the door and don’t have time to prepare a full-blown meal, smoothies are the perfect stand-in.
Since they can easily be a balanced source of nutrition, containing proteins, carbs, and fats, they can easily work as a full meal replacement. This is often a much better option than purchasing a regular meal replacement supplement product, which is often loaded with added unwanted sugar.
Which now brings us to the next important point about smoothies – they’re customizable. No matter what type of diet plan you happen to be following – low carb, low fat, high calorie, and so on, you can create a smoothie that will work for your goals.
In fact, for those who are actively looking to gain muscle mass, smoothies can be one of the easiest way to bring your calorie intake up. Since most people won’t ‘fill up’ on smoothies like they will on solid foods, if you’re struggling to meet your calorie intake for the day, adding one or two smoothies between meals tends to be the perfect solution.
Most smoothie recipes are extremely flexible, so you can figure out what your ideal macro ratios should be and prepare your smoothie to accommodate.
They’re An Easy Way To Get Protein In
One of the top struggles that people face who are looking to eat healthier is to maintain an adequate intake of protein. Protein rich foods take time and effort to prepare, and for many, they just aren’t foods one naturally craves.
While males will gravitate more towards eating a large steak or some chicken as their natural food preferences, women will almost always lead towards foods higher in carbs or fats.
Meeting your protein requirements is a must to help maintain optimal cell turnover and development. If you’re falling short, one or two smoothies a day will, without a doubt, bring you up to where you need to be.
They’re one of the fastest and easiest way to get protein into your day.
For the most part, smoothies are also very cost effective. When you compare the price of preparing a smoothie compared to say preparing a full meal containing chicken or steak, your chosen source of carbs, some vegetables, and so on, you’ll come to see that smoothies come in lower.
While I don’t recommend you replace all your meals with smoothies to save money, if you are trying to control your grocery budget, smoothies can help.
The cost of preparing your protein smoothies will depend on the ingredients you choose to use to make them with, but for the most part, they’re very cost effective.
Need a snack or meal on the run? Smoothies can save the day. Not only are they fast to prepare when you need fuel while at home, but you can easily put them into a shaker cup and take them with you on the go.
Provided you keep the smoothie chilled, it can easily sit for an hour or two before you consume it, so if you need a mid-morning snack as you rush out the door in the morning, this could be a great option.
They’re Perfect For Post-Exercise
Finally, the last big benefit to using smoothies is the fact they’ll digest so quickly, making them ideal for that post-exercise period.
Immediately after exercise your muscles are like a sponge, waiting to suck up any nutrition that you provide them. The smoothie, with its rapid delivery system, is the best way to get these nutrients to the cells in a hurry.
By further customizing your smoothie for fast digestion (more on this in a second), you can be sure that you are refueling your body properly in the post-workout period.
Hopefully now you can see just how beneficial smoothies are. If you have not been making use of these in your program yet, now is the time to start.
How do you best prepare them?
Let’s go over the complete guide to what you should be putting into your smoothies.
Preparing Perfect Smoothies
In order to reap maximum benefits from your smoothies, you need to know what types of ingredients to put in.
In most cases, you’re going to want a relatively even mix of proteins, carbs, and dietary fats. This will allow you to use the smoothie as a meal replacement instead of eating your usual breakfast, lunch, dinner, or one of your snacks in between.
If you happen to be using a low carb or low fat diet plan (or having the smoothie before a workout, in which case you may want to keep fat lower), no problem.
Simply decrease the amount of fat or complex carb containing ingredients you add in and you’ll be all set.
Once again, smoothies are completely customizable.
Let’s take a look at the main components any good smoothie should have and the best sources to turn to in order to get those in.
You’ll want to make the foundation of your smoothie a source of high quality protein. As you should be consuming protein with every meal and snack that you eat, there’s no excuse for not getting this in.
Adding this protein provides many benefits:
- Stabilizes blood sugar levels
If you neglect adding a protein source into your smoothie, you’ll be left with a beverage that may be relatively high in carbs. Take this alone and you’ll experience a spike in blood glucose levels, which can leave you crashing shortly after, feeling tired, irritable, and anything but well.
Incorporating some lean protein into your smoothie will stabilize blood sugar, keeping you on an even keel for the hours to come.
This is a must to feeling your best.
Don’t consider your smoothie complete unless it has a quality source of protein.
- Controls hunger
Adding protein also helps keep your hunger level down. Protein is the most satisfying nutrient you can eat, so by adding a scoop of protein powder into your beverage, you’ll sustain yourself for the hours ahead.
If you’re hoping to lose weight or simply maintain your weight, hunger control is a must.
Generally, the more protein you consume (in reasonable doses), the better hunger control you’ll have.
- Increases your metabolic rate
Another nice added benefit of protein is that it’ll increase your resting metabolic rate. Protein foods require the body expend more energy to simply break them down. You’ll net fewer calories overall, so this higher protein intake can give you a jumpstart as far as burning fat goes.
If you’re on a diet to get lean, chances are you’re already using a high protein intake, so smoothies can fit in perfectly.
- Provides the ‘building blocks’ (amino acids) for tissue rebuilding
Each day, your body is going to be breaking its tissues down. If you exercise, this process is only accelerated.
You need to be providing the building blocks to build your tissues back up – which come from the amino acids that provide provides.
Failing to consume these building blocks may mean you’re left feeling weak, tired, and unwell, so prioritizing this is a must.
There’s no escaping the fact that you need protein on a day to day basis and that smoothies make for an excellent way to increase your intake.
Sources Of Protein
Where should you get your protein from? Here are a few sources and their main benefits.
Whey Protein Powder
- One of the most commonly used sources of protein
- Relatively fast digesting (even faster if you purchase a whey isolate powder)
- Provides calcium to the diet
- Comes in many different flavors
- Mixes easily
Casein Protein Powder
- Offers a much thicker consistency, so can make your shakes taste more like milkshakes
- Is a slower digesting form of protein, perfect for a pre-bed shake
- Contains relatively few carbs or fats
Rice Protein Powder
- Is an excellent vegan protein option for those who can’t have dairy
- Is ideal for those who are experiencing lactose intolerance
- Is an allergen friendly option
Egg White Protein Powder
- Another great option for those who are lactose intolerant
- Offers a complete amino acid profile
- Is relatively fast to digest – good for the post-workout period
- Has a light taste, so most people will enjoy it
Hemp Protein Powder
- Is what I consider the best form of protein that you can take in
- Helps the body become more alkaline, which is important as most people are in a highly acidic state due to all the animal protein sources they consume
- Offers a complete spectrum of amino acids
- Mixes easily
*Note that while this protein powder doesn’t smell or taste so great, when you blend it with the other ingredients in the protein smoothie, you can easily overcome this issue.
- Is a good option for those who may not want to use powders in their diet plan
- Is a very slow digesting source of protein, so can help control hunger for hours after consumed
- Will thicken up the shake nicely
- Is another great option for those who may not want to use a powdered form of protein
- Will add a nice creamy texture to the smoothie, giving it a milkshake-like feel
- Will provide a good dose of calcium
Note that you mix and match your protein sources if you so choose when preparing your protein smoothies. For instance, you might choose to use a combination of whey, hemp, as well as a little Greek yogurt for improved texture.
Now let’s look at the carbohydrate options.
Sources Of Carbohydrates
The type of carbohydrates you add to your smoothies will be heavily dependent on your goals and what you are planning on doing in the hours following consuming your smoothie.
If you are getting ready for a workout soon, have a busy day ahead, or simply are trying to increase your calorie intake, you’ll want to add more complex carbohydrates.
These will provide more energy and more carbs total.
If you are looking to keep the smoothie lower in carbs or you simply want to improve your nutritional intake, adding in some fresh greens will be a better way to go.
And, everyone should be including some form of fruit in their smoothie. Fruits are incredibly rich in phytonutrients and will help you take your nutrition up a notch. The type of fruit again should be based on your goals/activities at the time.
Here are your options.
- Excellent complex carbohydrate source that will provide lasting energy
- Excellent for pre or post workout smoothies
- Offer a nice dose of dietary fiber
- Contains no added sugars
- Another complex carbohydrate source
- Can help promote regularity
- May help decrease cholesterol levels
- Blends up nicely with smoothies
- A high energy fruit source, perfect for before or after exercise
- Provides an excellent dose of potassium, which is necessary for strong muscular contractions
- Will offer a good dose of dietary fiber
- Adds a creamy taste to your smoothies
- Rich source of phytonutrients that will help protect the body against oxidation
- Offers a powerful dose of dietary fiber
- Relatively low in sugar compared to most fruit sources
- Contain fewer calories than bananas
- Excellent for creating lower carb/lower calorie smoothies
- Provides a hearty dose of antioxidants
- Offers a nice sweet taste, improving the taste of your smoothie
- Provides a source of natural digestive enzymes
- Is an excellent source of iron
- Hardly adds any calories to your smoothie
- Provides a wealth of vitamins and minerals
- Will contribute some dietary fiber
- Adds important vitamin K, calcium, and iron to the smoothie
- Can help to detoxify the body
- Helps make the smoothie more alkaline
- Adds are refreshing taste to the smoothie
- Increases the overall water content of the smoothie
- Provides anti-inflammatory benefits to the body
There you have some of the top carbohydrate sources to consider adding to your smoothie. Please keep in mind this list is by no means all-inclusive. There are plenty of other fruit and vegetable sources that you can be adding to your smoothie as desired.
Also keep in mind that if you want a thicker tasting smoothie, you should be using frozen fruit, while if you want a thinner smoothie, fresh fruit can be used.
Now let’s talk about fats.
Sources Of Healthy Fats
To round out your smoothie, you’ll want to incorporate some healthy fats into the picture.
These healthy fats will help to balance out the carbs, provide a source of long-lasting energy, and ensure that you maximize your intake of vitamins and minerals.
You can add more or less of these, depending on your goals and what time of day you are having the smoothie.
- Is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids
- Can help to regulate your natural hormonal balance
- Assists with the lowering of cholesterol levels
- May help to improve your immune system
- Provides a hearty dose of fiber, which will help to control blood sugar levels
- Combines a small dose of protein with some healthy omega-3 fatty acids
- Offers an excellent source of antioxidants
- Are a rich source of dietary fiber
- Provides a strong dose of omega-3 fatty acids
- Will add a small amount of protein to your smoothie
- Can help lower cholesterol levels
- May prevent certain types of cancers
- Offers a strong dose of vitamin E, which can help keep your skin, hair, and nails healthy
- Is rich in dietary fiber
- Provides an excellent source of monounsaturated fats
- Adds a thick, creamy tastes to the smoothie
- Provides an excellent source of monounsaturated fats
- Offers some dietary fiber and protein
- Is rich in manganese and B vitamins
- Will supply long lasting energy
- Helps boost your immune system
- May lower heart disease risk
- Enhances your metabolism, speeding fat loss
- Provides an immediate source of energy
There are a few of the healthy fats that you can bring into the picture while preparing your smoothie. Keep in mind that here again, there are other sources of healthy fats – other oils, seeds, or nuts that can also be incorporated into your recipe.
Be sure to measure these healthy fats out as you prepare your smoothie as the calories will add up quickly.
They are healthy and important to incorporate in, but at the same time, you do need to control your serving sizes.
After you’ve chosen your proteins, carbs, and healthy fats, you then need to consider what liquid you’ll use to blend the smoothie.
Here again, you have multiple options.
- Is lactose free
- Relatively low in calories (if you purchase unsweetened)
- Adds a light taste
- Offers a small dose of healthy fats
- Is lactose free
- Provides a source of carbohydrates
- Offers a mild taste
- Offers a delicious nutty flavor
- Provides you with some omega-3 fatty acids
- Is lactose free
- Will help to balance your electrolytes
- May help improve physical performance
- Adds a slightly sweet taste to the smoothie
- Offers vitamin C
- Will sweeten up the smoothie
- May provide powerful antioxidants (depending on the juice)
Keep in mind that if you are going to use juice in your smoothie, you will be dramatically increasing the sugar content, so be sure to adjust the rest of your diet accordingly.
You can also simply use plain water if you desire, however most people will find the flavor a lot better if they use one of the above liquids.
Finally, if you really want to take your smoothies to the next level, consider adding in a few additional ‘boosters’.
These will help take your health to the next level and ensure that you reap maximum benefits from the smoothie each time you serve it.
The best boosters to include are digestive enzymes, probiotics, quality vitamin or mineral powder, as well as any of the superfoods now available (greens products or freeze dried berries for instance).
These will help your smoothie work overtime, delivering you not only great nutrition, but amazing health benefits as well.
Putting Smoothies To Work In Your Life
So there you have the basics on how to prepare the healthiest smoothie possible to fuel your body well.
I’d recommend that you start out making yourself one smoothie each and every day, increasing that to two as time goes on.
Having a smoothie first thing in the morning to jump-start your day will get you off and running with an endless amount of energy.
Then, turning to one immediately after exercise is the perfect way to replenish your energy and speed up recovery.
And, if you really want to take this to the next level, I’d recommend that you sign up for my 84 day optimization course where you’ll learn my 15 minute morning routine.