Are you falling into the smoothie sugar trap? In the nutrition world, we call this issue a “health halo.” The smoothie is full of super nutritious fruit, veggies, vitamin boosters, wheat germ, flax seeds, the whole kit and caboodle…it HAS to be good for you, RIGHT?! When deciding if a nutrition choice is good, we need to consider both quality AND quantity. If you’re having that super nutritious smoothie for breakfast, but it has a banana, a cup of strawberries, 8oz of OJ and some added sweeteners, you’re well on your way to 100g of carbohydrate in a sitting. That’s quite a bit depending on what your personal needs are. For you post-workout smoothie fans, an added kink is that your body doesn’t use fruit sugars (fructose) as well as other carbohydrates for recovery just after workouts.
So are smoothies bad? Not if we approach them correctly. Let’s also not discount them as an awesome convenience option for people who would otherwise choose a less healthy option, or nothing at all. For most, a balanced meal is the reasonable goal, so we just apply that to a smoothie. Choose appropriate portions of protein (probably protein powder in this case), carbohydrate (whole fruits for the fiber), non-starchy veggies (greens work great here, also more fiber!), and a little healthy fat. Obviously this is easier when you’re smoothie-ing at home, but totally achievable when shopping at your local smoothie shop too. For you macro-counters, lots of smoothie shops have nutrition info to help you fit this into your plans, and don’t be afraid to customize where needed. (Disclaimer – Like any nutrition recommendation, this is not going to be appropriate 100% of the time for every single person. Before making major nutrition changes, chatting with a registered dietitian or your doctor is a good idea.)