There’s probably no more enjoyable diet on earth than the smoothie diet. (If you like smoothies, that is!)
I’m going to describe the basics of the smoothie diet here in case you’re interested in incorporating smoothies into your current weight loss plan.
Personally, I haven’t had to adopt the smoothie diet officially, but that may be because I’ve been on my own version of a smoothie diet for a decade or more.
All dieting comes down to two things that you need to do simultaneously in order to be successful. You need to:
- Decrease caloric intake (or modify your food intake in such a way that the foods you eat support weight loss…there are actually many different ways to accomplish this)
and, at the same time, you need to:
- Increase your physical activity to burn off excess calories
What role can a smoothie diet play in assisting you in achieving your weight loss gains? Let’s take a closer look.
Concentrated Liquid Diet
I’ve found that I love going as far into my day as possible without eating any solid food. I feel lighter, my brain works faster, I get more done and I love the process.
When it’s time for me to eat, my go-to choice for the food I want first thing in my day is a nutrient-packed smoothie.
If you know what you’re doing, you can pack more nutrition into a single blender jar full of the smoothie than most people eat in a week. The natural wholesome ingredients you add to your smoothie can work together to provide you with everything your body needs–calories in the form of sugars and fats, vitamins and minerals. You can also add in tons of superfoods like goji berries, spiraling or bee pollen that contains high concentrations of nutrients that most people don’t get enough of (and have to take vitamin supplement pills for instead).
What’s more, because smoothies are blended, they’re already partially pre-digested. The blender does the hard work of breaking apart your ingredients, and so all of that nutrition is readily available for your stomach to absorb as soon as you drink it.
If you’re skeptical that you could actually feel full on just smoothies, I challenge you to make some of the high-powered nutritional smoothies I list in Healthy Smoothie Recipes below and tell me you’re not stuffed to the gills after drinking a whole batch of smoothie over the course of a long morning.
Healthy Smoothie Recipes
On this section, we’re going to look at the building blocks of all healthy smoothies.
Instead of trying to list off a few totally arbitrary smoothies that may or may not actually appeal to you, I’m going to give you the skeleton key that will empower you to create your own healthy smoothies no matter what particular set of ingredients you have on hand.
First off, we have to define our terms. What do we mean by “healthy” smoothies? There are certainly plenty of competition definitions of what “healthy” is, but in this article, I’m going to focus on smoothies that fulfill the following simple criteria:
- Healthy Smoothies contain no artificial ingredients.
- Healthy Smoothies contain no concentrated sweeteners (like sugar or honey). They get all their sweetness from the fruit.
- Healthy Smoothies contain no dairy. Although dairy isn’t necessarily unhealthy in all cases, most people eat more than enough dairy and don’t need extra in their healthy smoothies. Dairy is unnecessary, mucous-forming and best left for indulgent occasions.
Those are the things healthy smoothies don’t contain. Here are the things healthy smoothies do contain:
- Whole, fresh fruits
- Clean sources of fat like flaxseed oil, coconut, and raw nuts.
The Key Components of a Healthy Smoothie
When you get ready to blend up a healthy smoothie, you have three questions to answer:
- What fruits are you going to put in your smoothie?
- What type of liquid are you going to use for your smoothie’s base?
- What sort of extras are you going to add into your smoothie?
Let’s look at possibilities contained within each of these three areas.
The Best Fruits for Healthy Smoothies
Within the domain of fruits, here are the classics that have proven themselves in smoothie duty time and again:
- Banana (the king of smoothie fruits)
- Berries (anything goes here–strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, etc.)
- Apples and Pears
- Peaches and Nectarines
- Tropical Fruit like Mangoes, Pineapple, Jackfruit, Durian and Mamey Sapote
Just because I didn’t mention a fruit doesn’t mean you can’t add it in with your smoothie recipe. I suspect there’s a potentially incredible smoothie waiting to be discovered for every fruit in existence.
The Best Liquids to Use in Your Healthy Smoothies
The sky’s the limit here. Don’t be afraid of really experimenting with the type of liquid you use as a base for your smoothies.
- Fresh Juice (orange juice, carrot juice, apple juice, mango juice, etc.)
- Coconut Water (either with the flesh from a young Thai coconut or out of a can)
- Water (for a very mellow, much less sweet smoothie experience)
- Nut Milk (store-bought or homemade, of which almond milk is probably my favorite)
Which liquids did I leave out? Let me know in the comments.
The Best Extras You Can Add to Your Healthy Smoothies
This is where things get really crazy. There are infinite flavor combinations you can add to your smoothies. Consider all the healthy, nutrient-rich foods you love. Could they potentially make a great smoothie add-in?
Here are the primary categories from which you can add ingredients to your healthy smoothies:
- Greens (spinach makes a fantastic smoothie addition, and you can experiment with virtually any green. Tread lightly, though! Greens can overpower a smoothie real quick!)
- Raw Nuts (I almost always toss raw cashews into my smoothies. Hemp seeds are fantastic as well. Just make sure your nuts aren’t salted or things can get a little weird.)
- Oils (favorites include flax seed oil, hemp seed oil and basically any oil that doesn’t have a particularly strong flavor but is still high in rich healthy fats)
- Nutritional Supplements
- Nut Butters (my favorite is raw almond butter, but peanut butter can work fantastically as can most other nut butter)
- Raw Cacao Beans (or raw chocolate in any form)
- Exotic Superfoods (like maca, goji berries or acai powder)
That list barely scratches the surface of the extras you can add into your favorite healthy smoothie experiments, but they’ll at least get you started.
Basically, the smoothie diet works by cutting out all the bad stuff you would otherwise be eating for breakfast and lunch and substituting a nutrient-dense, delicious alternative made predominantly from wholesome, natural ingredients in their unprocessed form.
What to Watch Out for on a Smoothie Diet
Let’s say you’re game for trying out the smoothie diet. Here are my recommendations for how you can set yourself up for maximum success:
First off, taper into it. Don’t try to go whole-hog from however you’re eating now to relying on smoothies to give you much of your nutrition for the day. Take small steps, and always listen to the deep wisdom of your body. That doesn’t mean listen to your body’s wily cravings begging for some donuts or a can of soda. That means notice how you feel and be gentle with yourself as you make changes.
Second, you’ll have more success doing a smoothie diet if you make sure your smoothies are truly complex, nutritionally-dense affairs. Paradoxical as it may sound, you want the smoothies you consume on a smoothie diet to be chock-full of calories. There are so many places to get smoothie recipes from, and I’ve included several in different sections of this site. Experiment, innovate and make sure that you’re adding plenty of fat in with your other smoothie ingredients. Cashews almost always work excellently within a smoothie, and adding in a little fresh organic oil like flax seed oil or hemp oil can help you take in more healthy fats as well.
Finally, another thing to watch out for on a smoothie diet (and this really applies to any type of diet where you’re restricting calories compared to what you’re used to), is make sure you don’t go on wild benders when you’re eating solid food after your smoothie meals. If you feel like you’re starving and you can’t wait to eat, you’re doing something wrong.
A Basic Smoothie Diet to Try
Here’s the basic outline of a smoothie diet you can try and see if it works for you. Remember: take thing slowly, be gentle with yourself and always listen to the wisdom of your body. Also, if you have any health problems whatsoever, consult the advice of your physician prior to adopting any new diet regimen.
Smoothie Diet Guidelines:
- Go as long into your day without consuming anything other than water. Go slowly, but see if you can make it all the way to late morning before you have your smoothie.
- When you’re ready, make one nutrient rich smoothie as your first meal of the day. Sip it slowly and let it last as long into the rest of your day as possible.
- For dinner, or whenever you decide you want your main meal of the day, eat wholesome, nutritious and unprocessed foods. You can eat whatever you like as long as it’s healthy.
That last guideline leaves lots of room for error…and depending on which food addictions you’re carrying at the moment, you may find that you fudge things in a direction that you know isn’t going to support your losing weight. Read as much as you can about health and healthy eating. Find healthy new recipes. Rely on simple, lightly-cooked meals for your solid food intake.
Conclusion: Is the Smoothie Diet Right For You?
Whether the smoothie diet is right for you or not will have to come from your own relationship with your body. In my different periods of dietary exploration as I searched out the best diet for me, I went through plenty of challenging periods. Cravings, confusion, emotional upwellings–I know how challenging it can be to make a change in the way you eat.
However, of all the diets that are out there, the combination of delicious nutritious smoothies and simple, healthy whole-food meals strikes me as the easiest to follow and maintain over the long term. You’re not starving yourself when you follow this diet. You’re leaning into a little more hunger than you may be used to, yes, and that can be hard at first. But by the end of the day, you’ve had an amazing smoothie and as much nutritious food as you want (within reason).
If this sounds good to you, then give it a try!