Welcome to Ask Whole9 Canada, where Summer Innanen and Sarah Ramsden answer all of your health and nutrition questions. In this week’s episode, Amy asks, “Are smoothies a healthy choice?”
People ask us about smoothies in our workshops and in our everyday consulting all the time. The media will have you believe that starting your day with a big tall glass of liquid food is the epitome of health. However, we tend to disagree.
In this episode of S&STV, we discuss the research around consuming sweet foods in liquid form, why we don’t recommend smoothies to our clients and when it would be appropriate to consume them.
You can also check out these links for more on this topic:
- “The Official “Can I Have…” Guide to the Whole30”
- Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Is Associated With Weight Gain and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes
- Short-term effects of the flavour of drinks on ingestive behaviours in man.
- Effects of fruit and vegetable, consumed in solid vs beverage forms, on acute and chronic appetitive responses in lean and obese adults.
- When Satiation Fails: Calorie Density, Oral Processing Time, and Rice Cakes vs. Prime Rib
Got a question for Whole9 Canada? Send your questions about health, nutrition or where to find Whole30 approved sources of food (that you don’t need to import!) to email@example.com and we’ll feature you in an upcoming episode.
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My daily (Thorne Mediclear Plus) smoothie is the only way I can supplement, since I cannot swallow pills or tablets, alternative suggestions would be greatly appreciated, thank you!
Sarah / Whole9 Canada says
Beth this really comes down to “why” you are taking Mediclear Plus. Both Summer and I like Thorne products and use them in our practices. This one is typically used when support is needed in the presence of inflammatory processes, along with gentle liver detoxification support. If you’re using it as a multi, we’d ask you, why not put that money towards quality food instead?
Even for therapeutic reasons, IF we were to use this (a rare case), it would only be for short term support, while other goals are attained.
If you MUST use it, consider how much fruit you put into it. Would you ever eat that much fruit at one time?
Thank you so much for your reply Sarah! I am 47, healthy as an ox, work out 3+ times per week and eat a mostly clean, nutrient dense diet. If this covers my nutrient needs, then I will go back to dinner for breakfast and not worry about supplementation.
Melissa Hartwig says
I think my smoothie is actually pretty good. I use half a banana and half an avocado or half a cup of berries, a cup of greens, a cup and a half of unsweetened almond milk, a tablespoon of chia seeds, and 2 tablespoons of ground hemp hearts. I find that I eat much, much better on the days I start out with this smoothie. I drink it slowly and “chew” it, since they say digestion starts in your mouth. And as a mom of four, it is much easier to run out the door with smoothie in hand then to cook up bacon eggs and roasted veggies for a sit down breakfast on most weekdays.
Alison M says
Thank you for your info on smoothies. I make smoothies for breakfast for my son who has 2 autoimmune diseases and is under the 1st percentile for weight & height for his age (11 yrs old). He won’t eat eggs (doesn’t like the taste), so I make him a berry smoothie with an egg so he gets the goodness without the taste.
I would be happy to see him hungrier than normal and eat eat more during the day! Gaining weight is wholeheartedly encouraged by his specialists and is treated as being important to increasing his wellbeing. So perhaps in some circumstances, smoothies could be a good way to increase caloric intake…. He struggles to eat more than a few mouthfuls of any other breakfast!
This is very interesting, thank you!
As always I am trying to feed my 3 year old son (ridiculously tall for his age) as healthily as I possibly can and I look to whole9 / paleo / Weston a price principles to do this
At this moment, he adores smoothies which I never artificially sweeten. I am intrigued as to your thoughts on smoothies for children? It is not a way for me to “hide” or sneak in fruit or vegetables as he loves those too in their whole forms.- smoothies are simply a food he likes.
Would you agree that sugars and carbs are less of a problem for children than adults? Or would you say I am promoting poor health for later in life?
Any input greatly appreciated!!!
So, I’ve been doing a smoothie with protein powder (blueberries, spinach, almond butter, hemp hearts, etc.) every day for over 2 months because I’ve been doing the P90X3 program. ANYWAY, I ran out of protein powder over a week ago, so I went back to just eggs in the morning, and all food throughout the day. I noticed almost immediately that I was less bloated, and I wasn’t eating MORE, just real food. I kept my exercise routine, and actually dropped a couple pounds within a few days, which makes me think the smoothies/shakes, whatever you want to call them, were making me either bloated or hold on to those couple pounds. I haven’t had one since, and I honestly don’t want to go back to them. I love to cook, so making food isn’t a problem for me.
Just my two cents.
Sarah / Whole9 Canada says
@Melissa 4 kids! You go girl, I have so much respect for you! It sounds like you’re making that smoothie work for your personal circumstances. Try adding in some more fat to make it more satiating eg. some nut butter, coconut butter, or coconut milk.
@Alison This is definitely not your everyday use of smoothies. Again, you might consider adding some fat into that smoothie, it’ll really help with your goals.
@Noelle Thanks for your comment. A perfect example of what we’re talking about.
I drink a green smoothie (only half a banana in terms of sweetness) every day first thing. I have noticed that my skin tone looks better throughout the day and i have less caffeine cravings. I also notice that my yoga-type friends who do a lot of juicing have lovely clear skin. I have a theory that smoothies and juices are kind of a biological “hack” — getting the nutrients of a lot of vegetables while bypassing the need to have a long digestive tract to deal with them.
I agree, smoothies with an abundance of fruit is not the way to go for the majority of smoothie drinkers, loading up on oranges, pineapple and mango etc I see this a lot at cafes (including Paleo) and it irks me with all the sugar. However, I went a green smoothie they had, yum and make my own now at home. Half an avo, bunch of spinach, coconut water, ice, one small banana, cucumber, yeah I do chia, greens powder and maca with great lakes gelatin but I always have a simple 2 egg omelette first. I like to change it up, so lately bacon eggs and mushrooms works too :)
Thanks for posting this! The point about our bodies not being able to differentiate between the sugars is helpful. I do typically enjoy a smoothie for breakfast each day, and it usually includes the only fruit I have during the day. I pack in about 3+ cups of spinach and kale, 1 banana, 1 small apple and a cup of chopped strawberries. For liquid, I’ll do kombucha and water. I also add one egg white, and have two boiled eggs on the side. This is a great breakfast for me, because though I rise rather early, I don’t like to eat breakfast until after 9am, and by then I’m at the office. The smoothie is delicious and filling, and all the protein is necessary because of my weight training schedule. Outside of a serving of almonds a bit later (crunchy, salty, more protein!), I don’t feel the need to have anything else before lunch. It also helps me feel good about getting in some great greens first thing in the day, because, as I said, it isn’t always convenient to have anything I have to spoon or fork up at work for breakfast. Too, if I’ve worked out in the morning (or walked to the train, which happens frequently) the sugars are a good boost to keep me feeling good. One of my struggles while being on the Whole30 (I’ve done three Whole30’s in the past year) is not crashing after workouts and physical exertion. I do eat sweet potatoes almost daily. And I’ll have half or whole banana pre- and post workout. But there are limits! Haha.
I am getting so tired of the ever changing Paleo community! It is exhausting keeping up with the do’s and dont’s and I am starting to turn un-paleo friendly. I could not disagree more that a smoothie with Kale, spinach and whatever fruits is a “no-no”, unfortunately the paleo community has shifted their focus from healthy nutrients to weight loss!! While weight loss is important, I am far more concerned about the long term ramifications of WHATEVER diet…we need to be much more pro active in heart health, mind health, ect…for example eating blueberries and a banana are super beneficial for low serotonin in the brain, skin, energy, the list goes on. Paleo never tells you that a high protein diet wrecks havoc on your heart and is being linked to increase heart disease!! I will continue to drink my kale and spinach, yeah that sounds so terrible for you! PLEASE!
If you can limit your smoothie to one fruit serving ( half a banana and 1/2c berries), then would that solve the “too much fruit” issue? I use a smoothie on day I exercise so I can digest something quickly since I tend to have bowel issues. I use 2cups greens, 1/2c almond milk, fruit listed above, 1/3can coconut cream, gelatin powder and grass-fed organic unsweetened whey. Would this be suitable 2-3 morning per week? I have a hard time eating greens otherwise as my body doesn’t seems to digest them well so I thought this was a way to get more greens.
Just want to add a PS to my post, concerning my comment about crashing when not getting enough sugars during a Whole30. I do think you have to work much harder to support an active workout routine while on a Whole30 than not. But I just found out that I’m hypo-glycemic. So that is the primary reason for my energy crashes and fatigue this year– not my “ultra clean” diet, haha. The accupressurist I see is helping me treat the issue naturally.
Happy smoothie-ing, to those of you who still do! :)
Of Goats and Greens says
I find smoothies and juicing to be healthy although I find them too time consuming to make for breakfast; and I don’t have them all the time.
I came to juicing and smoothie-making as another variant on preparing veggies. I aim for savory, as I am with regular veggie dishes, not sweet. Banana is too sweet for me! I’ll use, say, grapefruit, or a blood orange. Half an avocado is great, then fill it up with lots of spinach, half a cuke, maybe some kale, and a slice of onion. (It’s a veggie dish!) Tumeric is great for health benefits. I make them with the immersion blender so I don’t waste the nutritious pulp.
You could get someone more articulate and succinct to get the message across in this video in about 20 seconds. Smoothies that have mostly vegetables and a bit of fruit for flavor weren’t even discussed.
I alternate the following:
Green smoothie, kale, cuc, 1/2 lemon, 1/2 apple, celery and raw protein powder
Next day is unsweetened almond milk, few tablespoons plain sheep yogurt, 1/2 banana, handful coconut, tablespoon almond butter and raw protein powder
I’m 60, I drink one of my smoothies about 6:30, go to work; then take my work out break from 9-10, come back and have one or two hard boiled eggs, about 1:00 have a salad with tons of veggies, maybe a little tuna or beans, then a very light dinner. I’m not hungry, the protein level works, I don’t crave sugar or carbs. I drink a lot of water throughout the day and teas. My nutrient and minerals are right where they need to be, I have low blood pressure and my energy is level and strong all day. I agree too many fruits can “spoil the broth”, but I’d be hard pressed to substitute an early morning better start to my day than this.
Katerina Pozzi says
This is excellent. I’d like to add that from a Chinese medicine perspective, cold food can wreak havoc on the digestive system, leading to symptoms like bloating, loose stools, and abdominal discomfort, especially when consumed during the colder months. Read this article: http://dellaterrawellness.com/salads-and-smoothies/ to learn more about why salads and smoothies aren’t as healthy as you think.
Fresh Man says
I’m the owner of lushtummy.com….a smoothie delivey in Toronto, Canada….and I just wanted to tell you that I Love the info you provide here….very informative….I just recently took up smoothies and raw foods…and it has changed my life.
Thank you for enriching it even further !!!