Is it healthy to have a smoothie for breakfast?
There are some healthy smoothie options you can have for breakfast, but you should know not all smoothies are healthy. And they are not definitely not suited for breakfast.
Many people blend their breakfasts these days. And why not? It’s an easy way to get multiple servings of fruits and veggies before you’ve even left the house.
Typical ingredients used might include fresh fruit, whole oats, and organic dairy. Perhaps you add a sweetener—like locally-sourced honey or maple syrup. You congratulate yourself on all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients you’re consuming!
So far, so good, right? Well, maybe not, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
The pesky thing about smoothies is twofold. One—the nutrient breakdown is often not great. And two—for people wanting to shed pounds—drinking liquids early in the day can lead to overeating later on. This can prevent weight loss, even when all the calories you consume are “healthy.”
That being said, it is possible to make smoothies in a health-conscious way. Even for people who are trying to slim down. It all comes down to how you create them.
Extreme Makeover—Breakfast Smoothie Edition
Even if you’re avoiding ingredients like ice cream and chocolate syrup, smoothies can be overly sugary. Avoiding actual table sugar is one thing, but falling for “no sugar added” ingredients is the more common pitfall. These so-called “natural” ingredients entice you into reassurances of health. The good news? There are a few simple swaps you can make to circumvent this problem.
First of all, the fruit is—by nature—is made of sugar. However, some types of fruit have less sugar content than others. Examples of low glycemic index fruits include the following:
- Berries (blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries)
Pro-tip: if you desire thicker smoothies, skip sugary bananas and use frozen versions of the fruit above.
For bases, never use juice. Instead, try plain old’ water (with or without ice), or unsweetened coconut water. Unsweetened nut milk, soy, flax, and hemp milk are good choices, too. For higher protein bases, whey protein is easy to digest and blends well. Greek yogurt can be used, but be mindful of the carb (sugar) count. Nut butter, avocados, and chia seeds all help to thicken smoothies. Plus, they all add healthy fats, protein, and fiber to the mix.
Adding leafy greens will up your smoothie’s nutrient count exponentially! If you worry about a bitter taste, try squeezing in some lemon. Or opt for blander greens like spinach, swiss chard, or kale.
Now that you’ve gone to all the trouble of avoiding sugary fruits and bases, don’t sabotage your smoothie with any added sweeteners!
Instead, try experimenting with spices. You may be surprised that what you were missing was extra flavor (and no sugar). Cinnamon, vanilla, or nutmeg all contribute to a sweet-adjacent taste.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, here are a couple of ideas for breakfast smoothies. Not only are the nutrient-dense, but they’ve both got a good balance of macronutrients. Which means they provide all the good stuff for the least amount of sugar and calories.
Basic Blue-Green Smoothie
This simple and easy to follow recipe is under 300 calories. When used as a replacement for breakfast or lunch, it can definitely help you to lose weight!
To make, blend together adding each ingredient no more than two at a time.
- 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 cup spinach
- 1/4 cup blueberries (frozen, if possible)
- 1/2 cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt
- 1 scoop low-carb vanilla protein powder
- 1/3-1/2 cup of ice, to desired thickness (always add the ice last)
Chocolate Avocado Breakfast Smoothie
This is a great smoothie to make in big batches. As listed, it makes 4 servings. Store the excess in the fridge, and blend with ice to freshen up each additional serving.
The combo of avocado and banana makes for an extra creamy texture full of healthy fats. And, the addition of cocoa powder provides an extra chocolatey kick.
Remember, use as a meal (or larger snack) replacement, and not as a tasty drink consumed with a plate of food!
All ingredients can be combined in a blender together at the same time.
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 3 bananas–frozen
- 2 avocados
- 1 tbsp. (unsweetened) cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp. peanut butter, organic if possible
- 2 scoops chocolate protein powder
- 4-5 cups of unsweetened almond milk
Smoothies are convenient, healthy, and a great way to sneak in extra servings of fruit and veggies. For especially busy people (or picky eaters!) this makes them an enticing option. Just make sure that when drinking them in the morning, they’re meant as a breakfast replacement.
For smoothies beyond breakfast, follow similar rules. Review your grocery list carefully. Make sure you’re choosing the best ingredients, especially if weight loss is your goal. By following these guidelines, you can have your smoothie, and drink it too.