It’s a hot summer day and you’re cruisin’ around town in your sweet ride trying not to melt. You glance up the street and THERE. IT. IS. The answer to your 120 degree problem – “The Smoothie King” is going to save the kingdom (well, maybe not but you get the idea). You pull into the ‘courtyard’ and enter the ‘castle’. You are greeted by a heavenly blast of cold air and the smiling faces of the king’s servants (all of whom look much like high school students…) ready to serve you. What a kind and generous king to just give up his staff like that for you! You glance up at the menu board and start to salivate just thinking about the “Pineapple Pleasure”, “Blueberry Heaven” and “Passion Passport”. You decide to take the “Caribbean Way” in the ‘medium’, 32 ounce size. The king’s servant hands you the frosty cup and you take the first sip. You think to yourself, “If heaven could be sucked through a straw – this would be it…”. You are suddenly snapped back into reality when the servant tells you that you have to pay for this deliciousness – the dream is over and in your mind the king has just lost some major points.
Damn, I should write children’s books, or maybe some non-fiction. That last paragraph was pretty darn entertaining if I don’t say so myself… Okay, back to this smoothie thing. Common societal belief is that smoothies and fresh made juices are healthy. That’s how places like Smoothie King, Jamba Juice, etc. make their money. They offer ‘healthy’ alternatives to ‘normal’ drinks, milkshakes and snacks. Shoot, the fast food chains are even getting in on the action – McDonald’s, Burger King, Dairy Queen, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, Sonic – they’re all pouring out tasty purees. The restaurant industry isn’t the only sector making bank on this deal. ‘natural’ juice companies are all over it too – Naked Juice, Odwalla, etc. And although the ‘Protein Zone’, ‘Green Machine’, and ‘Citrus C Monster’ sound like nutrition powerhouses, the names and labels are downright deceptive.
Now, I’m not out to trash the juice shops, smoothie cafes, and bottled drink industry alone here. No, I’m an equal opportunity fun-hater. So let’s get to the hardcore stuff – I want you all to look at your kitchen counters. I’m guessing that a majority of you can locate a blender – some of you may even have one of those fancy, top-of-the-line pulverizers that require goggles and a helmet to operate. Whether you’ve got a Vita-Mix, Juice Man, Oster, or Black and Decker, I’m willing to bet you’ve whipped up a smoothie or two in that handy little appliance. I’d venture to guess that there’s a handful of you that have even jumped on the juicing bandwagon. It’s okay –we’re not gonna judge. But, to be fair – you and the king (the smoothie one) are equally guilty in this game of ‘destroy your pancreas in 30 seconds or less’.
Anytime you take food, throw it in a blender and whir the heck out of it, you’re setting yourself up for a mainline of sugar. (I am assuming there aren’t too many out there blending up a ‘steafisken’ smoothie (that’s a steak-fish-chicken combo in case you we’re wondering) and pounding that beast for breakfast – although, that would be pretty badass…). You’re probably reading this thinking, “What the heck is wrong with my spinach-apple-beet-carrot-parsley and sometimes protein powder concoction?” Well, let’s talk about it. Liquids hit the system much more quickly than solid food (even after you chew it). The rapid transit requires an immediate and marked insulin response to get that sugar out of your blood. Your body doesn’t know the difference between the sugar in a ‘green drink’ and the sugar in a soda. (I’m sorry if this completely ruins your year – it’s the truth). Sure, the juice or smoothie has some vitamins and minerals that the soda most definitely doesn’t, but if you’re looking to get lean – step away from the blender. Your beta-cells will thank you. And yes, when you throw 2 pounds of spinach, 3 carrots, a handful of berries, ½ an apple and a scoop or two of protein powder in the blender and push start, the end result is still a form of sugar (with some protein thrown in for good measure). Next time you’re getting ready to fire up the old juicer or concoct a new smoothie creation, I want you to try eating all of the food you’re planning to pulverize. Could you? Let me rephrase that, could you eat all of it ‘comfortably’… Yeah, that’s kinda what I thought.
Now, let’s talk a little about hunger and cravings. I’m guessing we can all agree that liquid food isn’t exactly ‘satisfying’. Sure, it tastes good and it might fill you up for an hour or so, but when the crash hits, and it hits HARD. Can you say ‘hypoglycemia’?? And seriously, unless you just had your wisdom teeth removed, who doesn’t like to chew? They make dentures for a reason, people… If you’re lucky enough to have your teeth – USE THEM! Additionally, liquids and sweet tasting things can set you up for a day of hunger and sugar cravings – yeah, sign me up for that one, right? If you’re still not convinced and I am more than positive that some of you have already got your rebuttal and or hate diatribe composed and ready to post in the comments. Go ahead, let me have it – we all defend our vices – I get it. You and your smoothie are close, and breaking up is hard, but I’m trying to save you from an unhealthy relationship and am willing to take the hit. Now, to drive my point home, here are the stats and for your entertainment – the Bacon Equivalents for some deceitful drinks:
|Drink||Serving Size||Calories||Carbs (g)||Sugar (g)||Bacon Equivalent|
|Smoothie King – “Caribbean Way”||Small (20 oz)||395||97||89||8 strips|
|Jamba Juice – “Mega Mango”||Original (24 oz)||340||85||78||7 strips|
|McDonald’s Wild Berry||Medium (22 oz)||310||71||67||6 strips|
|Burger King Tropical Mango||Medium (22 oz)||330||78||63||6.5 strips|
|Sonic ‘Real Fruit’ Strawberry Slush||Large (24 oz)||440||117||116||9 strips|
|Naked Juice “Green Machine”||1 Bottle(16 oz)||280||66||56||5.8 strips|
|Naked Juice “Probiotic Machine”||1 Bottle (16 oz)||360||86||78||7.4 strips|
|Odwalla “Tropical Energy”||1 Bottle (12 oz)||240||59||44||5 strips|
|Odwalla Carrot Juice||1 Bottle (12 oz)||100||22||19||3 strips|
|Vita Coco Coconut water||1 Bottle (16 oz)||90||22||22||3 strips|
|Your Blender “Green Juice” – 1 cup kale (3 Large leaves),1 cup green grapes(28 grapes), 1 cucumber, 1 Granny Smith apple||Full Recipe (16 oz)||220||54||42||4.5 strips|
|Your Blender “Detox Drink” – 1 medium size beet, 4 medium size carrots, 1 medium apple, 2 T chopped fresh ginger||Full Recipe (16 oz)||310||74||62||6 strips|
I make a smoothie for breakfast everyday and sometimes go hours before my next meal often with strenuous activities and no crash.
Call me wacky but my berry/chia concoction seems much more appealing for breakfast than eating greasy pig belly,especially when its hot and I am going to be busy all morning(not sitting in an office).
Amy Kubal says
If it works for you and isn’t conflicting with your body comp goals or health – enjoy your smoothie.
Ryan Critchett says
Yea, but it probably isn’t. Denial is a real thing! :))
I was curious about the whole juicing concept and first put it to practice nearly two years ago now. Still no sugar spikes, or all the fabled bad reactions you’re supposed to have with juicing. When I was first looking into it all, I also went to a doctor a couple times/month and did blood work. I also checked my urine in the morning and the evenings. For the first few months I also did them 30 minutes after I drank a juice. Two juices/day with one solid meal of whatever I wanted ( meat, veg, rice, sort of thing ) and everything about my blood and urine was perfectly healthy for the 6 months I did all the research. I don’t call that denial, I call it curiosity, research, and discovering something kind of neat. However that is not going to the smoothie shops and ordering the fruit juices. You only really get a benefit from the vegetable juices as a means to get more green leafy veg in your diet as well as helping achieve less consumption of breads, sugars and processed foods overall. To achieve sugar levels of soda, in your smoothies, you are really doing it wrong.
Smoothies never really bothered me either, but I usually have negligible carbs in them. Scoop of egg protein powder, half or whole avocado depending on hunger, 1/2c unsweetened coconut/almond milk, maybe a handful of spinach. Sometimes 1/2c of plain greek yogurt if I’m feeling naughty, so maybe 7-10g of sugar in the whole sha-bang. It comes out like pudding and it has replaced sipping hot coffee in the morning, so I’m not downing it like a vaccum. Sometimes real food is just too much for me in the morning, but I know I have to eat something because I’m on my feet for 4-6 hours before I get a break. Seems to work just fine. 😉
Smoothies are not Paleo. Therefore according to Paleo diet theories the body is not going to be able to utilize the nutrition potential of this highly processed and unnatural way of eating.
Vivian Rowe says
I also make a smoothie for breakfast. I prefer green smoothies than usual breakfast recipe. I’m used to it since the time I converted into a vegan. Right now, I’m proud to say that I was able to maintain my weight.
Greg Smith says
Clearly, you have not seen the recipe for my Tuna Spinach smoothie. Btw, seeing your “Bacon Equivalent” metric gives me another idea . . .
In any event, you are right to caution on the smoothie craze. But I think the problem is people laden these down with fruit. If you whip up something like the aforementioned Tuna Spinach smoothie (that was not a joke), you wind up with something quite a bit better. And it doesn’t taste bad either once you get it out of your mind that everything pureed has to taste like a Shamrock Shake.
Amy Kubal says
You are hardcore! Tuna and spinach smoothies for the win!! 🙂
Clearly, you need to share this recipe!
Greg Smith says
I don’t really have smoothie recipes. I just throw in whatever I have. I use a Vitamix 5200 for this, btw. Here is what I did this morning. I always begin with a whole peeled lemon. Add spinach. Realize you don’t have enough spinach. Add green leaf lettuce. Add a big dash of cinnamon, 1 T flax seeds, a small can of tuna with the water, 1 scoop flavored whey powder for added protein and palatability. Then add some more filtered water. Once this was mixing I added three celery stalks and about 1 T avocado oil. Sometimes I use coconut oil. Blend thoroughly. You can hardly taste the tuna.
I’d way rather eat a few cute little blueberries and savor each one than have a pulverized cup of fistfuls … I never got into the smoothie thing. I’d rather just wait for the occasion and have ice cream.
Amy Kubal says
Amen!! I like the way you think!
I’m with you on the smoothie thing. I will just eat the ingredients whole and wait for a special occasion and have real ice cream.
Yes…please share the recipe for the spinach/tuna smoothie!
Craig Almaguer says
all I can say to that is, DUDE!!
Noah A. says
Hi Amy –
I very much appreciate the post…as something of a Vita-Mix/Smoothie addict, this info isn’t surprising (if a bit of a bummer). But I had 2 questions for you:
1) What is the effect of adding fat to smoothies? I never make one with either avocado, coconut milk or coconut oil. It’s my understand that that should help with the insulin spike, but I could be wrong on that. Just wondering your thoughts?
2) What are the effects of having these smoothies (with fat & protein in addition to the fruits/veggies) immediately after exercise? That’s the only time I will have them, and I thought I had read that insulin response is different when your body is in that 30 min post-workout timeframe.
I ask both of these questions knowing that I’m still better off eating whole foods (which I’ve been making the move towards over the past month or so), but the smoothie habit is not an easy one to break!
Thanks so much.
I would love to read the answers to Noah’s questions because those were my questions as well.
Robb-how is the bacon equivalent calculated? calorie equivalent, fat equivalent, sugar equivalent (if there even is any in bacon), etc.?
Oops, I meant *Amy*, how was bacon equivalent calculated?
Robb Wolf says
Not a smoothie guy. But I have an off topic question or realization. Been paleo since feb 2013. Love it. Love meat and veggies and don’t ( often) cheat. Lost 30 lbs easy and fast. I try to get lower and do, but then it seems like I start craving big time. Ice cream for kids is my downfall like once a week, maybe more since its summer in the ca. Valley. Ex: went from 240 to 210 ( im 6′ 2″) but anything lower and it feels like I’m starving and I will flux between 209 and 214 in a week. Eat eggs with veggies and a breakfast meat everyday, meat and veggies at lunch and dinner with virtually no fruit. Blueberries sometimes. Why don’t feel like I’m starving at a certain weight? Maybe it’s too hard of a question to answer. Thanks
Amy Kubal says
It’s hard to say Bill, are you getting enough fat? That can help with satiety! Let me know if I can help you trouble shoot this! – http://robbwolf.com/about/team/amy-kubal/
Mat Malone says
I do occasionally make myself a green smoothie. But I always try to keep the fruit to a minimum. I know a lot of people will add a lot of fruit, and then add more fruit juice to thin it out. With regards to how satisfying it is, I typically add cup of coconut milk per serving, which fills me up pretty good. If it still needs more liquid I just add water.
Jamba Juice is delicious, but I count it as a cheat/dessert.
The other thing that drives me crazy about this smoothie thing is that people use it as some sort of detox after eating a bunch of crap…like it’s going to make everything better. They will go through a whole weekend of eating pizza and drinking beer then do a spinach smoothie detox on Monday to erase the effects of poor choices. At that point the damage has been done already.
Evelina Micall says
This is an eye-opener for me. I’m always a fan of all sorts of healthy smoothies. Right now, I can’t stop drinking smoothies but I would like to shift to a more natural without combining any other unnatural ingredients.
This post is good timing. I was just watching a Taubes interview where he mentioned that liquid calories “may” have a different effect on insulin secretion than calories from solid food.
I am a big fan of the smoothie – (my own concoctions with Paleo/Primal compliant foods) and the Taubes video made me curious if my smoothies provide a larger insulin secretion than if I were to just eat the food whole without blending it.
So I’ve decided to test it on myself with a glucometer! I’ll just have to wait and see.
Anyway, I agree that whole food is a better option than liquid food with a few caveats – if you have the time, equipment, skill etc. to prepare the food.
Most people are rushing out the door to get to work in the morning and sure we should all plan our day better and get up earlier etc. to make ourselves breakfast but that’s just not always possible or realistic for many people for a variety of reasons.
So, the next best option (in my humble opinion) if you want to eat something healthy before you sprint out the door, is to whip up a healthy paleo/primal compliant smoothie and jump in the car. Quick, easy and still healthy.
Maybe the sugar hits the blood stream a bit quicker than it would if you sat down and ate all the stuff you threw in the blender but isn’t that a better option than a Bagel, Donut, Toast or some other quick grab and go food that really doesn’t deserve to be called food?
I have experienced increased muscle and lower fat as a result of swapping out unhealthy/quick foods with healthy & quick smoothies.
I would think maybe it’s just me but a number of the readers of my blog have reported back to me with similar benefits, including my wife who had to buy new clothes because her old stuff was too loose after doing the same for just a couple of weeks.
I think the better way to look at eating healthy is how can I eat healthier foods right now given my current circumstances, in a way that doesn’t disrupt my life so much that it’s not sustainable.
Change no matter how big or small is very difficult for most people.
So I think we have to focus on making small positive changes that are sustainable.
Then once we make a small positive/healthy change a habit, we can look to step up our habits to the next level whether that be in the form of better food in the blender or spending the time to cook and eat before we head out the door.
Post your results! This post seems mostly theoretical. I have been on morning shakes for years and don’t experience the carb shock that I get from a Standard American Meal. My shakes have around 500 calories. I use full fat yogurt or milk, whey, olive oil, kale for “greens”, mixed berries for “reds” and sweet potato for “orange”. I’m no scientist, but it seems like it works. I didn’t know my pancreas would soon explode from this onslaught against my own body!
Amy Kubal says
I agree, Tim. The smoothie with REAL food is better than a gluten-loaded bagel, bowl of sugar coated cereal or Krispy Kreme donut. But, if you’re hitting a road block on the way to your goals or have blood sugar regulation issues, smoothies aren’t a great option for you. Also, an afternoon snack from Jamba Juice isn’t exactly a ‘healthy choice’. I’m just trying to create awareness! But small, sustainable changes are the way to go for sure! And please let us know how the glucometer experiment goes!!
maybe i missed something — when comparing it to bacon, are you implying bacon is bad? Far as I understand bacon is considered paleo? (been loading up on bacon the last couple months — well not every meal, but definitely 4-5 times a week)
Amy Kubal says
No, I’m just showing you how much bacon you can have if you trade in the smoothie!! 🙂
Ahhh I remember my days of giant Jamba Juice milksha… er.. I mean smoothies. 🙂
I now make a smoothie almost every weekday for breakfast that’s a bit different.
Cytosport – 100% Whey Protein Vanilla Powder (Costco), 1 Scoop (36g)
Hershey’s – Cocoa Natural Unsweetened , 3 Tbsp (5g)
Now – White Chia Seeds, 1.5 Tbsp
Blue Diamond – Unsweetened Breeze Almond Milk Coconut Milk Blend, 1 cup
Now – Mct Oil, 14.5 g
Kirkland Signature – Pure Vanilla Extract, 0.5 tsp (5 mL)
408 cals; 22g carb; 29g fat; 34g protein; 2g sugar; 15g fiber
I’m usually good for 4+ hours, and as much as I like bacon, I’d rather do this than 8+ slices of bacon.
I’m under no illusions that it’s any kind of paleo, but it’s definitely helped me get healthier.
Nowadays I use my blender for making dip: block of cream cheese, can of sardines in olive oil… In the past I’ve done the smoothie thing, and gone regularly to stores in a regional chain of smoothie shops to get relatively low-calorie fruit and ice smoothies sweetened with Splenda… then wondered about the sugar rush. Eventually the penny dropped and they lost a customer.
This info is a bit of a bummer, but I don’t think enough so to change my morning smoothie. Let me explain…eggs and I have a very rocky relationship and I have chosen to avoid them. I call myself mostly paleo, but I should really call myself a real foods advocate. So, my morning smoothie (composed of 1C fruit, 1small or 1/2 large banana, 1/2C greens, 1/4C nuts or seeds) is very compliant to that mindset. I am passionate about making sure I get enough fruits and veggies in my diet (I aim for at least 7 servings daily), and this is a great way to start the day to achieve my goals. With limited options for a reasonably easy morning “meal” available, do you have any other suggestions that would allow me to meet my fruit/veggie goals?
Amy Kubal says
Leftover roasted veggies are great. Saute veggies with your breakfast eggs and/or meat too – it’s an easy and tasty way to get your daily veggies!
Deborah Gordon says
I agree entirely with these comments. I encourage people to limit their smoothies to 3 purposes: weight gain for people who can’t take enough food orally, post-serious workout whey protein conveyor, and to increase consumption of raw leafy greens like kale, but the last instance I want them to drink with a meal in which they are using their teeth and activating their digestive system. Diana Schwarzbein was the first person to popularize the concept that liquid calories elicit double the glycemic response that chewed calories do, I’ve found her comments to be consistent with my experience both personally and in my practice.
Thanks for this column.
Amy Kubal says
Thank you for the vote of support! 🙂
Aicacia RD says
Not to mention that consuming basically elemental foods on a constant basis prevents your digestive tract from having to do any work. All muscles will eventually atrophy if they don’t have to work, so consuming too many liquid calories can end up weakening and slowing down your gut, and with it, your immune system.
Amy Kubal says
Excellent point! Thank you Aicacia!
I’m a Smoothie Kind addict
but I go for the Gladiator which is high protein and only 2 gm carbs 90 grams of protein (I do 40 oz large versions) and have them add 1/3 the amount of fruit (pomegranate.
No wonder I am not loosing any weight
And yes you are still hungry afterwards
I have a smoothie for bkft 5-6 days a week. Three days the smoothie is whey, leafy greens, green powder, coconut flakes or oil, & chia seeds. The other three days I substitute 2 raw eggs including the shells (acquired taste) & hemp seeds for the whey & chia. High energy for me.
Meatshake – taste the secret! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vv6Mljf830c
Amy– question about kids-Would love to hear your thoughts
I am wondering now about my smoothies I make my kids. Only on days with tons of soccer or in summer when so hot here in SC and we are out all day. I use fresh local berries, half banana, 1 scoop whey protein, coconut cream or milk and a big spoon of coconut oil water to thin.
Thought it was a good idea in this situation. What do y’all think???
Erika( mom of 3 growing kids who play hours of soccer most days plus neighborhood running around)
Amy Kubal says
It’s likely fine for the active kiddo’s.
Karen Rose Tank says
Interesting about the liquid foods spiking insulin more rapidly… I have type 1 diabetes, so I am the one that gives myself insulin. I typically start my day with a green smoothie with fats (coconut oil, avocado, nuts) and fiber (flax, chia), and low carb protein powder, ginger, etc… and the only fruit I use is lemon. But I ALWAYS need to dose my insulin for MORE than what I would think according to counting my carbs… It appears my body needs more insulin to process the same number of carbs when they are in a smoothie. I test my blood sugar like 10 times a day… so I know how my body is responding. It’s a great experiment for everyone to test their blood sugar before and after various meals.
I had not wanted to believe this but in my body it is true, since I can get so many good things into my smoothie like dandelion, maca, ginger, greens powder with probiotics… But I always debate myself that I could go lower with the carbs if I stuck to a basic protein and veggies.
Amy Kubal says
Karen! Thank you for your experience report! It just demonstrates that liquids are digested much more quickly than solid foods and therefore require a faster and more marked insulin response.
That is exactly my experience. I’m bordering on type 1 – a type 1.5 perhaps – trying to keep my remaining beta cells alive by eating Paleo . I got tired of eggs all the time and was looking for an alternative. Even without fruit, I can see the bump up on my meter. Interestingly, it is always more significant when I’m going to work – I think the stress of work lets loose the cortisol and the numbers climb higher than I would expect. I don’t see that big of a change on the weekends. I do stuff my smoothies full of fat – 1/2 avocado, 1T MCT oil, 1 cup coconut milk, sometimes some almond butter – that helps , but I’m afraid Amy is still right. That said, I do like getting my avocado, my Amazing Grass Greens, my Inner-Eco probiotics, my kale and all those things I”d normally not get during the day. But I know my blood sugars like eggs and bacon and roasted veggies and a can of sardines quite a bit better. 🙂
Thanks for writing this article! I’ve been drinking a smoothie with breakfast every day for the past couple years without really thinking about the consequences. My smoothies don’t have any fruit in them. They have a big handful of spinach, a scoop of whey protein powder, fresh ginger, a pinch of cayenne pepper, a bunch of cinnamon, a handful of cilantro and parsley and half a cup of coconut milk (I also have a few cooked eggs on the side with it as well) . Without any fruit is this still just breaking down to sugar in the blender? Would it still be better to just eat all the greens without blending them? If I cook them into my eggs, would they still have most of the nutritional benefit?
Thanks for your help!
Amy Kubal says
If you can chew it, chew it! Liquids will always spike insulin more quickly than solid food do to their rapid digestion.
Eileen @ Phoenix Helix says
From the autoimmune camp, I gotta say that fresh pressed juices and smoothies have their place, which is one of the reasons they’re recommended both by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and Dr. Terry Wahls. If you have digestive problems, the fact that this is easily digested and absorbed is a plus. It’s a nutrient boost for a healing body. Also, since Dr. Wahls recommends 9 cups of veggies daily, she says it’s fine to achieve some of that goal through juicing, because it’s the micronutrients that matter. I start my day with freshly pressed vegetable juice. It’s not a meal replacement for me. It’s like a liquid vitamin cocktail. I follow it with a full breakfast an hour later, and I don’t feel any blood sugar issues in the intervening hour. I can see your point that smoothies as a meal replacement aren’t very satisfying, but that doesn’t mean they’re never a good idea.
Amy Kubal says
You’re right! They definitely have their place, but it’s important to evaluate the situation and in most cases they aren’t going to be the best choice.
Robb Wolf says
Good points!! So long as we are looking more at spinach juice and less at a milk shake, things are ok.
My post workout smoothie is: a handful of blueberries, 4 strawberries, 1/4 of a semi green banana, half bunch parsley, half an avocado, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, a bit of salt, 16 ounces cold water, and 1/4 lb raw steak. It tastes great, has plenty of protein and fat, vitamins, minerals and a few carbs.
All I can think of when you look at those really high and fairly high sugar contents is here comes the cancer! Don’t do it people!! Until you have watched someone die of invasive pancreatic cancer you have no idea how incredibly painful a death it is.
Sometimes I make a Paleo agreeable smoothie when I am busy and have missed lunch, but it is too early for dinner. I put 1/2 – 1 c of fesh berries or 1 peach in my Blendtec with less than 1 cup of almond milk, 1 Tbsp honey and ice cubes and blend for a great cold, thick smoothie. It fills me until dinner. My calculations are that it contains approximately 100 – 125 calories. Is that a problem??
Love this site!
Amy Kubal says
What are your goals? Are you reaching them? If it works for you, you’re healthy and your body comp is where you want it – you’re fine!
Thanks for a great article Amy.
I am wondering if a home smoothie could be beneficial after a cross-fit type of workout. I have recently started to make one with blueberries, banana, kale, coconut or almond butter, and whey protein. Any thoughts?
Also, what about a warm smoothie made with steamed greens and a little bit of fat like butter and coconut oil?
Thanks again for the great article and any feedback you might have!
Amy Kubal says
What are your goals?? Are you healthy, is your body comp where you want it? Base your decisions off the answers to those questions!
Val Mcclain says
Hi Amy, I was reading the comments, and Noah had the exact same two questions that I have. That would be about adding fat to the smoothie, and having the fat added smoothie after exercise (I run and do strength training). I hope you’ll be able to help with those questions. Thank you so much.
Amy Kubal says
Val, adding fat will slow the digestion somewhat – but liquids, regardless of what’s in them are more quickly digested than solid food. Consider your goals – if your body comp is where you want it and you’re healthy – you’re probably fine.
Amy and Robb,
Thanks for this.
Amy Kubal says
You are welcome!
I love what Tim said (above) about starting where we are and making small, sustainable changes towards a healthier life. I’ve heard this idea from several other sources lately, and it rings true with my past experiences (of both success and failure).
If I owned a glucometer I would experiment with the difference between eating my breakfast whole vs. “smoothied.” (Any word can be verbed, right?) I currently have a smoothie for breakfast every day and find it keeps me satisfied longer than anything else. I use JJ Virgin’s shake mix + a bit of frozen kale or spinach + a small serving of fruit. To that I might add chia seeds, maca powder, or extra fiber powder. I’d have to work out what a “real food” equivalent would be for that shake mix! haha
I am gradually losing weight on my mostly paleo diet that includes smoothies. It does seem like a good idea to eat food that hasn’t been processed into a powder form that requires rehydrating before consumption. I’m just not ready to give up the convenience of the smoothie yet…
…unless Tim reports some relevant results from that glucometer testing? 🙂
Thanks for the article!
I never really got into the whole smoothie thing, but in the summer I do sometimes indulge in a smoothie-like treat: chunks of young coconut meat blended with frozen pineapple chunks, plus or minus some rum depending on the time of day. Mmm, summer! All that coconut fiber is really filling, but I do wonder how much of a hit I’m getting from the pulverized pineapple.
What about Chis Carr and her suggested juicing benefits? Or Dr. Alejandro Junger and his book Clean? Is it all nonsense? Seems as though many of the principals are similar with regards to gut health.
Amy Kubal says
It all depends on your health and your goals. If your body comp is where you want it and you handle sugar well – some juicing and smoothies might be fine for you. Just be aware or the contents of what you’re sipping!
Great post Amy. Any thoughts on veggie juicing (kale, spinach, celery etc.) with no fruit ?
Amy Kubal says
It’s still concentrated carbs. If you could sit down and eat everything you’re putting in the blender in one sitting – go for it! 😉
Great article. I’ve often wondered about this. Like some others perhaps, I got tired of eating eggs all the time on my Paleo Diet. So when I stumbled upon JJ Virgin’s site, I started using her protein All-In-One shake mix (pretty tasty) and added kale, 1T of MCT oil, 1 scoop Amazing Grass Greens, 1/2 avocado, maybe 30-50g of organic raspberries, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1 cup coconut milk. It will bump my glucose readings maybe 20-30 pts after two hours. I might start around 100 and end up 120-130. That’s certainly much less than a few twinkies or a big fat bagel would induce, but still not perfect. Nonetheless, since eating Paleo, my HBA1c has dropped from 7.4 to 5.3 which is huge (and that’s been with a smoothie each morning for probably 4-5 months), especially since I’m not on meds for my diabetes. I’ll have to try eating some avocado slices, a small salad of kale with some coconut oil and vinegar , and some berries for breakfast and have a glass of coconut milk (sounds kind of gruesome with a salad, but…. 🙂 and see how that impacts my sugars. I would think it would bump me less than the 20-30 increase I have been seeing. At a minimum, I could start cutting the smoothies down to 3 or 4 days a week, rather than 7. (They are addicting, I must admit!)
Wow. I feel this article was speaking to me. I love my smoothies, but now that I’m a “Paleoista” I have cut back on the fruit to one serving and the rest my kale and spinach/chard. I have cut back on the fruit because my goal is to lose weight. Now I’m rethinking this, but I do love my smoothies. 🙁
Interesting enough my niece was just saying how I should leave the Kale chunky in it so I am chewing it to help with digestion, which I was like, ok??? And BAM there it was in your article.
I see some suggestions of artificially sweetened whey protein powder. Interestingly, studies show artificial sweeteners can cause insulin spikes as high as sugar. You gain nothing for the health risk you take. Also, Studies show that whey protein stimulates insulin response; so you are compounding the problem by using whey; and whey is not paleo.
It is hard to make a shake without sugar offsetting the protein taste. Below is the best compromise I have come up so that it tastes great, is mildly sweet, as natural as possible(only ingredient in egg powder is air-dried egg whites; only ingredients in coconut milk is coconut milk and water), and paleo. The second shake only has 16 grams sugar in a 250 calorie shake.
My two shakes are done in morning as pre and post workout shakes:
Shake 1: 2/3 banana, 24g egg white protein, 1/2 can of coconut milk:
22g sugar; 10g fat; 25g protein; 2g fiber
Shake 2: 1/3 banana, 24g egg white protein, 1/2 can of coconut milk and 4 strawberries:
16g sugar; 10g fat; 25g protein; 2.4g fiber
And the banana coconut taste is awesome.
Hey Amy, Thanks for the great article! I’m in love with my green smoothie, which I make without any or very little fruit but after reading this I will have to rethink it. Achieving a better body comp is one of my goals, but trying to get a heap of green veg in a day is also. So conflicted! I think I will take them off the menu for a little while to see how I go. Sorry for the novel and life story, but I did have a question as well. I make a mean broccoli soup that I wiz up smooth. Do the same rules regarding insulin spikes apply to soups as well then?
Amy Kubal says
Yes, to a point. But occasional soup is fine and delicious!
lynn thiessen says
Ok, what about things like J Robb protein powder and Mark Sisson primal fuel…should one expect an elevated glycemic response if these are made as directed with water/ice?
Amy Kubal says
Liquids in general will elicit an elevated response.
Cynthia Brocklebank says
Hi Amy & Robb!
I’m so glad I read this article today. It just makes sense! I recently bought the “Primal Fuel” shake from Primal Blueprint(Mark Sisson) for those really busy busy days. Do you have an opinion or have you heard anything about that shake? It does have a high fat content from coconut but still not sure if it’s a good idea. Thanks!
Amy Kubal says
Cynthia, Primal Fuel is good stuff as long as it’snot working against your goals.
Natalie M. says
You did kind of ruin my year, but that explains why I’m getting apache after my daily green smoothie. Also, you may have identified the reason my weight loss has stalled. Thanks.
Natalie M. says
That’s spacey, not apache!
I really found this interesting. I knew that my smoothie would be high in sugar because of the amount of fruit but seeing you relate the calories to bacon was an awesome insight. I’ll probably still keep my occasional afternoon homemade smoothie though, I make one recipe and split it between the three kids and myself, so we limit it quit a bit.
Are you familiar with the GAPS diet protocol that includes juicing? I have always felt it is best to east the entire food, but the protocol (as I understand it) uses the juice for two reasons, to withhold the fiber until the digestive system can heal and to help detox the body. Please share your thoughts. Thank you 🙂
Amy Kubal says
If the digestive system is severely damaged liquids are a good option.
This post seems to assume everyone has a smoothie packed full of carbs and maybe some protein. A lot of people now add coconut oil, coconut, seeds, nuts to their smoothie. The greens and some fruit are usually just thickeners/adders-in.
If you make a high-fat smoothie, it’ll easily last you through to mid-afternoon/dinner.. And definitely doesn’t ‘hit’ the system the way it is implied in the post.
Amy Kubal says
I wrote this post to create the awareness that smoothies aren’t always the healthy drinks that some assume they are. If your body comp and health are where you want them, enjoy your smoothie, if not – consider not blending.
I only drink water and I am so pleased my 3 sons moved from diet coke, fruit juices etc last summer to water. Apart from its saving a lot of money it is much better for them. If they want their fruit they can eat fruit. There were no smoothies for 2 million years. Man drank water and that is all we need.
Just these days I was thinking of buying a centrifuge to extract the juice of vegetables and fruits (as well as spices and herbs, but that’s another story).
My idea is to ferment them with water kefir grains to get rid of the extra sugars. What is your take?
How would you compare a smoothie made with kale and dandelion vs a juiced kale and dandelion drink?
Amy Kubal says
Not much difference.
Stuart Adams says
I’m getting the message that the more we mess with the food i.e. blend it we are removing the natural speed/process of digestion and the chemical signals it sends around our body?
Also cooking seems to remove nutrients so I do try to go with light steaming.
Must admit the only time I blend is a protein shake after exercise with a portion of blueberries/blackberries/strawberries. This is my only fruit intake during the day.
For people doing excessive or lots of training there maybe a case for blending as it’s hard to eat that many meals a day in the time given. But for the average human being there shouldn’t be a need to blend it seems.
This website is brilliant by the way, have been Paleo for 5 weeks and already got 3 friends onto it as well. The best part is kicking those dull cereal and toast breakfast into touch, and having eggs and bacon again hooray.
Great article Amy, I had been thinking along these lines myself since I’ve jumped on the smoothie bandwagon. I get the point that no matter what you put into them, liquified food hits your bloodstream faster which in turn triggers a steeper insulin response which is why I always drink mine with some high protein chew food such as grass fed ground beef and a few dates for the fiber while severly limiting the amount of fruit (if any) that goes into my protein powder / maca / pumpkin seed / tumeric / almond milk / asparagus / half a banana concoctions.
Thanks for the info! Even though I have loved my smoothies, it’s good to learn and grow and move on when I have updated knowledge. I have a question about a comment you made earlier.
“All I can think of when you look at those really high and fairly high sugar contents is here comes the cancer! Don’t do it people!! Until you have watched someone die of invasive pancreatic cancer you have no idea how incredibly painful a death it is.”
What about people who have cancer and use the juicing as a way to help heal the cancer? Just curious. Thanks again!
Amy Kubal says
What were they eating pre-juicing? Many times the juice is an improvement.
When i make a smoothie it’s usually for post workout so it will be water, half a banana and whey protein, obv i could just eat the half the banana on it’s own but it’s more convenient. My question is, and it’s something I’ve been meaning to figure out for a while. If you make your smoothie pre work out to consume post work out that contains protein powder. Does just sitting in the water all ready made for an hour or two have damaging effects on the protein? As in is it as beneficial as mixing your protein solution after your workout and consuming immediately?
Amy Kubal says
It shouldn’t matter.
Ha, I love the whole idea of “bacon equivalent!” I would like to see this standardized and required on the back of all USDA Nutrition Facts labels. Maybe it could be slipped in under Calcium and Iron.
Amy Kubal says
That would be AWESOME!
Great article. I give my smoothie loving 6 year old smooties with breakfast every AM, but thinking she may be crashing mid AM in school, need to rethink that srategy.
Great topic. I do not eat beef or pork; what do you recommend for breakfast rather than a green smoothie? Eggs with veggies? Maybe turkey bacon too?
Amy Kubal says
Eggs, bacon, fish, poultry – it all works! Add some veggies and you’re good to go!
I’m not much into the smoothie world. But I tend to use protein shakes where others use smoothies. Does drinking the protien shake carry the same or similar impacts as drinking the smoothie?
Amy Kubal says
It’s going to result in an elevated insulin response – without the sugar it’s lesser but if getting lean is your goal, then real food is your best bet.
Thanks for the enlightening article! My husband and I along with our 3 yr old daughter have been Paleo since mid-February 2013 and it has improved our overall health and completely resolved issues with my husband’s gluten intolerance as well as the heartburn we were both experiencing on almost a regular basis! I have been debating on purchasing a juicer to help with the on-the-go meals but after reading this, I will stick with preparing meals as I currently do so we have leftovers to choose from for breakfast and lunch! For those who are looking for a good alternative to smoothies, I would recommend making a breakfast quiche in a large skillet and cutting it like a pizza…it is easy to make sea and you can add lots of healthy veggies and is easy to eat on the go with little mess! Also we do a lot of baked salmon ad boiled eggs for quick breakfasts, and 6 oz of coconut milk to drink, I find the coconut milk helps add satiety to breakfast meals, even more so than dairy milk! Hope this helps 🙂
Ange @ HolFit says
You completely ignore the benefits of timing of liquid meals (i.e. within an hour of a workout), the time & prep involved to eat a proper amount of plants daily (and why blending is fab) and the reduced insulin response in the presence of healthy fats (ie chia/hemp/avocado in your blend) Dislike.
Amy Kubal says
You are entitled to your opinion, and it all depends on what your goals are!
Roger Chagnon says
What if the smoothie is only part of the breakfast: I usually have leftovers from the evening meal (meat and veggies) plus an egg. Will this be enough to slow down the sugar absorption?
Amy Kubal says
Not really – liquids are liquids.
I have a smoothie every morning for breakfast and it says in the article could you eat it all comfortably in one sitting… I have a very basic smoothie recipe that, yes I could eat in one sitting. 1 banana, 1/4 cup avocado, 1 cup coconut water, 1 scoop egg white powder, 2 T organic raw cacao powder… yummy! I am always on the run and this is the only way I can get my protein in the mornings since I am always running late (unless I skip working out to fix/eat breakfast).. I already get up at 5:30 in the morning so getting up earlier is not an option.. otherwise I would get less than 5 hours of sleep and going to bed earlier is not an option because I work a later shift and have a 1 hour commute from work.. just not enough hours in the day… I don’t get sugar spikes or hypoglycemic attacks. I am so busy at work (in a fast pace hospital) that my next meal (if I get a lunch) is not until about 1pm… I am just trying to justify not giving up my smoothie if you haven’t figured it out lol
Amy Kubal says
Well done. 😉
This is a load of rubbish. It is the same food no matter how it is blended. Are you claiming that if you chew your food well, it has more sugar? Sorry – I require more science and data to believe your assertions, not just your claims backed up by nothing except inane generalizations.
Amy Kubal says
It doesn’t have more sugar – it just gets absorbed much more quickly in liquid form. Here’s some research on why solids are better – especially for leaning out – http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v24/n6/full/0801229a.html
And then there’s this one – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2197163/
I don’t know enough yet to agree or disagree with this post, but the studies mentioned above as proof only have a few participants: one has 15 and the other has 9. The study with 9 people measured the intake of a commercially made shake (read highly processed), not a low carb, high protein/fat homemade paleo-friendly version. The study with 15 people used SODA as a measure. It seems as though these studies should not be considered proof that ALL liquid smoothies are not good for us. Just a consideration . . .
Robb Wolf says
I have a simple rule for my clients: if they are happy with their body comp, they can have shakes. If not, no dice. It’s been a major factor in our success, and it’ll be hard to find a paper to “prove” what we are doing.
Denise H says
I gave up smoothies because they trigger IBS & hypoglycemia for me. Doesn’t matter much about ingredients. A mixed green salad with usually walnuts, avocado, a pastured egg, a strip of pastured uncured bacon, sea salt + dressing of Upgraded MCT coconut oil & Bragg’s vinegar has been my champion breakfast for the past 3 years (MCT oil being a recent upgrade). I’m 60 years young since eating like this (paleo most all the time). I’m up at 4 a. m. for meditation & breakfast before heading to the gym to train clients in high intensity strength workouts. I also eat this same breakfast before my HIT workout. I’ll have a few berries or cherries within 1 hour and lunch within an hour or two. I feel good all day! Works for me.
I disagree with this article. I understand that most ‘bought’ juices are just carb loaded, but in addition to subscribing to a mostly paleo diet, I believe in other sources of information, like Fitlife.tv.
I’ve recently done an ‘Alpha Reset’, where I’ve undergone a 5 day GREEN juice fast, and then gotten back on to the Paleo diet. To insinuate that juicing causes insulin spikes is absolute BS. Fruit juices may, but juicing Kale and other green leafy vegetables is absolutely beneficial, and much better than eating processed food.
I’ve lost 30 lbs so far by incorporating both in my life. Please don’t go spreading false information that could lead others from taking a better choice in life!
Bill Graham says
Chuck, I think smoothies are great sources of nutrients and are definitely better than a bunch of processed foods. Which I’d say this author definitely agrees with. She isn’t saying go back to eating crap food just because it requires mastication. She’s saying that the insulin response from juiced foods, PERIOD, is faster/higher than a whole meal containing the same ingredients.
This is more about thinking about options available to you. If you are suffering some effects from smoothies, like a lack of energy shortly after, feeling unsatiated, or you just aren’t losing weight anymore, you might want to look at smoothies as a reason and see what you can do to minimize their consumption.
So often it seems like if people are challenged on something, they take it as an outright attack. Nutrition should be a place where healthy discourse is allowed and more to the point, encouraged. This is about being informed that liquids aren’t treated the same by our body. Does that mean never drinking a smoothie? NO. But see how you react. Nutrition is often highly individualized and based on your goals and current situation.
Amy Kubal says
WELL SAID!! Thank you Bill!! You are a VERY WISE man! 🙂
I love my smoothies and I have one every morning I do put superfood into my smoothies but it works for me so I stick to it, but I hear where you are coming from…
This time of year when the garden is producing so much bounty, I will eat all the whole foods I want. But the fruit n veggie smoothie is a great use for all the extras we can’t eat while fresh. Everyone with a friend who has a garden likely throws rotten tomatoes away. I quarter them; freeze on a cookie sheet; and then container them for winter smoothies. Figs ripen overnight and are rotten within 3 days – but the cookie sheet n freezer save then for use all year. The same for extra squash, cucumbers, and even that huge bag of organic carrots that start rooting before you can eat them all. You can freeze many things for future smoothies that would
I went hardcore Paleo day 1 -5 weeks ago (I’m an all or nothing type person). One of the hardest things to give up especially in my mind is my morning protein smoothie from the juice bar at the gym. I always felt like after a hard or even a not so hard workout that I deserved this “treat”. I hadn’t put everything together yet until I read the Paleo Solution that is but I knew every time I started having these each day my weight loss would stall or worse yet reverse. This article just explained the why. Thank you so much for putting it down in words so I can now grasp the concept of “don’t even think about going back to those things” and keep up with the eggs and avocado. Btw in my few Paleo weeks I have lost approx. 15 pounds, over 2 percent body fat many inches and feel great. Thank you all for the information and explanations for those of us that want to do better but need help in knowing exactly how to go about it.
Amy Kubal says
Thank you so much for your comment! And awesome work on your progress. Keep it up and keep reading! 🙂
I used to enjoy milkshakes as a kid. Right now I would rather eat my food than drink it. Maybe one day when I have no teeth left I will have a smoothie.
Good article with great information. I will be doing more research though. I enjoy a good smoothie once in awhile but not at the cost of my health. On the other hand, I think as some of the other comments show, drinking them wisely can still be safe and beneficial.
Vivica Menegaz CTWFN says
Thank you for the great article Amy,
I was just thinking about writing something very similar for the patients of our practice.
I wanted to add a small explanation to clarify WHY smoothies will spike you insulin much more than the equivalent foods eaten whole.
It’s about the fiber!
Both soluble and insouble fiber help slow down digestion and absorption and reduce the flux of fructose/glucose to the liver (where it gets processed and/or stored).
But for the fiber to do its job we can not just add it on top or think we are keeping it in by blending whole fruits/veggies.
To get the metabolic benefits of fiber it needs to coat the sugar molecule on all sides, so that during digestion our enzymes have to work hard at stripping it down.
Second: insoluble fiber creates a sort of “fabric” in our intestines that greatly slows and reduces absorption of sugars and fat…things are then easily carried away to the exit!
The problem with smoothies is that the cutting action of the blades completely destroys the insoluble fiber of fruits and veggies.
The cellulose part is torn to little tiny pieces, so it will not be able to create the gelatinous “fabric” that forms that precious intestinal barrier.
This way sugar is absorbed just as fast as if we were drinking pure juice!
I hope this makes things a bit clearer form the physiological point of view. Especially for all who commented that your information was not accurate!!
Amy Kubal says
Thank you so much for the added explanation hopefully it will help some of the ‘die hard’ smoothie sippers. Some people are VERY attached to their liquid meals… 😉
I appreciate this explanation. Are there any studies/links to further this case that I can look at? Thanks!
You haven’t lived (ahem) until you’ve tried a raw liver-salmon egg smoothie! Granted, it may not be as good as eating the whole food but since I’m not in training for Fear Factor I’ll do what’s necessary to get it down. And depending on what you add it becomes not just merely palatable but even rather tasty, believe it or not. Spices are mostly the key with that.
I add bone broth, seaweed, fresh turmeric, dried tomatoes, spinach, miso and whatever spices I have lying around.
Just an idea, the point is that if you’re liver averse and want to include it in your diet, something like this is a good way to change the texture and mask the taste.
Amy Kubal says
Holy Iron-Stomach, Batman!!!
Mitch Russo says
I have a smoothy every morning; It’s very low in sugar and it’s not “juice” per se, it’s the made with a Vita-Mix.
– An avocado
– 3 whole limes peeled and cleaned
– 3 cups of clean, organic raw spinach
– 2 scoops of Hemp protein powder
– a skinned, whole large cucumber
If I am in the mood (rarely) a banana
Along with 2 cups of water, this makes 3 16 oz drinks which I use for 3 days. It gives me a good (alkaline) start to the day and fills me up. About 11:30 I start to get hungry and will go for a small handful of almonds.
Bacon Equivalent? I know the Avocado is basically all fat but I can burn that for energy and not carbs or sugar. I would love your comments…
Ron Scott says
Amy, I often snag a smoothie with protein powder from a smoothie joint after a long tennis match. It’s the most convenient way to quench thirst and get protein right afterward. I’m an ectomorph and don’t have the carb issues most people have. Is this still a bad idea?
Amy Kubal says
As long as it’s not an everyday thing, since you’re healthy it’s totally okay! 🙂
How did you know that’s the face I make? By the way, your article posts are always right on the money, in content and timing. Hopefully my functional med doc will tell me I dont have to take the smoothies anymore – even though there mostly veggie protein powder and fat 🙂
GiGi Eats Celebrities says
Ah ha ha! I’d much rather eat that bacon and drink an ice cold glass of water! 😉
I’ve been paleo/primal for over a year now. I’ve never been on board with the smoothie/protein shake gig. Last year I broke down and bought one of those little single serving drink blenders and used it occasionally for a banana, coconut milk and cocoa treat. A friend, who has enough money to run after the latest fad, bought an industrial blender and started to make green shakes for breakfast. I tried it, not impressed. I generally like my paleo eggs and sausage/bacon for breakfast. Every once in a while now, when I’m late or it’s hot and lazy, I’ll whip up coconut milk, 2 eggs, and half a handful of frozen berries. It seems to keep me going until lunchtime or after, but not as long as a plate of eggs and bacon. Did it this morning accompanied by some sausage. As the reason I went paleo was a diabetic condition, I’ll be more careful with the shakes now.
Chris farnsworth says
This confirms to me exactly how I feel following my morning protein smoothie…a huge dip in my performance about an hour later and no benefit to my body composition. A short cut really as I wake up at 5:50 as I am a Greenkeeper.
I have compared eating an avocado, bacon omelette to taking protein smoothie and the difference is huge. Mainly on the way I feel and perform but I am also able to go through a mini fast for 6 hours for my body comp goals. Stop being lazy and cook your food…
I find it pretty funny how many people are so defensive of their smoothies. You guys have a lot of patience answering all this.
When we consider ourselves paleo eaters, seems fairly obvious to me that the way in which we consume our food is important. Did they really have blenders in those times?
Great work 🙂
Yes, there is evidence of primitive Paleolithic blenders. I saw it on the Discovery Channel.
Amy Kubal says
Just goes to show you that you can’t believe everything you see on Discovery. The Sci-Fi channel on the other hand, is totally solid. 😉
Hey Amy! I’ve talked to you before, but I wanted to really quickly double-check something in regards to smoothie drinking, and also to having lots of carbs early in the day. I work out in the morning and thus have been trying to have all of my starch and fruit in the AM, post workout. However, I have noticed that after my big carby meal, which has contained pumpkin, sweet potato, and usually a cup of raspberries or blackberries, I feel extremely tired and fatigued, definitely a blood sugar crash. However, before what I was doing was simply having a smoothie with the berries, and no starch, and I NEVER had this reaction. Are some people more sensitive to starch than fruit, and also, since I’ve stopped having the smoothies, my body composition has declined considerably…. Could it be that I’m waiting to long post workout to have my big meal of carbs for them to be utilized efficiently and not give me a blood sugar crash? Did having a quickly digesting food(a smoothie) not give me such a crash because I was simply consuming it sooner?
Amy Kubal says
Everyone’s response will be individual. Getting your post-workout carbs within 30 minutes of workout completion is going to be most beneficial and least likely to result in a crash. Also, be sure to consume protein and some fat with your carbs to slow their digestion.
Ha, that was an entertaining read. I’m totally with you on the smoothie craze! But funny enough the removal of my wisdom teeth got my started with the whole paleo thing. Although in the beginning I never intended to go that road. The first fortnight after surgery was mostly banana blended into protein shake 😎 after that the real food came in. Now (6 months later) I’m 19kg (~42lbs) lighter, haven’t smoked since that day, started exercising, got the family on board (now the kids are free of their eczema too) and so on…
I think I’ll send a box of candy to my oral surgeon… Little thank you one could say… That sugar stuff has to leave the house anyway 😎
Very thought provoking. I definitely see where you’re coming from. Fruit is high in sugar and can cause an unhealthy insulin spike when stripped of its fibrous pulp. However, I would add one caveat: consuming sugar (preferably from fruit or raw cacao) right after a workout helps your muscles to absorb the protein (preferably a complete, plant-based protein such as hemp seeds).
One word for this article: Rubbish. A bacon and Avocado Omelette as opposed to a Green Smoothie at Jamba Juice. Are you kidding me? Most Americans don’t nearly consume the required amounts of Veggies, fruit and nuts and almost every meal on every corner consists of bread and animal protein. That’s the problem in this country.
I’ll take a little extra sugar any day. I doubt if that 350 pound woman/man walking down the street had a Green Jamba Juice that morning but I’d bet you that she/he had a Double Cheeseburger at Carls Jr.
A bacon and avocado omelet is completely different from a double cheeseburger at a fast food joint, and probably more satiating and nutritious than a green smoothie (and a lot less sugar).
The problem isn’t the animal protein, it’s the bread (and other crap).
Not here to hate. I appreciate all viewpoints and as everyone else here…want to do what’s best for my health. Can only speak from experience, but smoothies saved my life. I lost 60 lbs and am no longer pre-diabetic by embracing a mostly raw food diet (ocassionally have meat and steamed veggies).
I used to be a huge sugar fiend but eating fruit and drinking smoothies (with low glycemic fruit…would never use grapes or beets) has allowed me to go from gobbling processed sugar daily to not having any (yup, not one bite of chocolate or anything else) for 8 months.
My good friend is no longer diabetic from doing the same thing (but eating greens with her fruit and smoothies). We both go to the doctor regularly and get our blood tested.
Please include your research. What are you basing these claims on ?
Oscar Picazo says
Not to mention the impact of the smoothie on your gut flora; got SIBO?
You can cut the sugar in 1/2 at JAMBA and other places by replacing Apple Juice or other fruit juices with Carrot Juice.
Any intelligent person can see that these Juice/smoothie options are by far the more healthy choices that you’ve mentioned in this article.
You’re not gaining weight by having an apple and green smoothie at Jamba but you are when you stuff that breakfast Jack in.
Michael Cunningham says
I am trying to lose weight and I am in a hurry in the morning. If I am going to these places there has to be a good Smoothie for me vice going to fast food and grabbing a sausage biscuit. Does anyone have any suggestions? I am trying the Smoothie King Lean1 Smoothie this morning in hopes it doesn’t have that much sugar. Also it takes me about an hour to finish a small smoothie. Does the amount of time it take to finish it help with my Blood Sugar levels. I moved from a large smoothie to a medium and now a Small is what I am drinking every morning. Still takes me at least an hour to drink in between phone calls. Would really like a suggestion for me that doesn’t involve taking too much time in the morning. Between the Gym and dog care and getting ready for work. Thanks
You could always just cook some breakfast the night before, or eat leftovers from dinner, etc.
Just keep it balanced… I keep mine under 10 g sugar, a few strawberries, but mostly spinach and kale. With egg white protein and lots of full-fat coconut milk it should keep your blood-sugar regulated. And it most definitely keeps me full all morning until lunch time.
I had to start making green smoothies because eating vegetables in the morning literally makes me gag. Drinking them is no problem.
If the idea of putting whole foods in a blender to create a smoothie jacks up the sugar response in our bodies, can soup(s) induce the same response?
When people ask me about smoothies, my answer remains the same always: if done right, and they actually satiate you, go for it. Otherwise, stay away.
Now, what do I mean by done right? The base liquid should be coconut milk (canned, with the cream), unsweetened nut milk, yogurt (plain yogurt, the kind where the sugars don’t matter because all they are is food for the SCOBY), or kefir (same guidelines as yogurt). The fruit should be low carb: berries, peach (ONE medium), GREEN banana (because of resistant starch; the more yellow, the more digestible sugar). You should add spinach (steamed to reduce oxalates), as much as you want/can stomach. Add either flax, chia, or hemp seeds. Add no more than 2 T of nut or seed butter (the kind that is JUST nuts/seeds and maybe salt). Seasonings should be sugarless (cinnamon, cacao powder, ginger, etc.)
The point? High protein and fat, because not only does it provide satiety, but it also delays the insulin response. This ends up low net carb, too. Track the macros, then add whole food sweeteners if you must: raw honey or maple syrup. Keep the total carbs from sugar below 20 grams.