Some may ask, "Is it healthy or good for you to replace your regular meals with a smoothie or two?" It really all comes down to what your nutritional goals are, and what ingredients you’re using.
While many commercially prepared meal replacement shakes can be very high in sugar, artificial color and flavor and other not-so-good-for-you additives, a homemade smoothie can sometimes be the perfect on-the-go meal!
The Nutritional Benefits of a Smoothie
In one study last year, researchers monitored the stomachs of people who ate a traditional meal compared to those who ate the exact same ingredients, but blended into a smoothie. They found that smoothies are digested differently than whole foods, and that people report feeling full longer.
This has huge benefits when it comes to reducing snack cravings and helping you to control your meal proportions for weight loss or healthy weight maintenance!
Because the ingredients in smoothies are blended and broken down, your body can also better digest and absorb the nutrients in your food.
The Nutritional Benefits of a Traditional Meal
When you eat food in its full form the way nature intended it, there are some surprising benefits. For example, blending fruit or vegetables actually damages the fiber in the food, reducing or even canceling out its health benefits.
Your body also processes sugar better when you get it from whole foods, whereas blended fruit can often spike your blood sugar more.
What’s the Verdict?
The bigger question is WHY you want to replace your traditional meal with a smoothie. If it’s because you’re in a rush and don’t have time to sit down for a regular meal, a healthy smoothie can be the best alternative compared to grabbing fast food or an unhealthy snack to tide you over.
And if you do choose to make a meal-replacement smoothie, choose your ingredients wisely:
- Focus on greens, such as spinach or kale, as the bulk of the smoothie. Relying too much on fruit can quickly exceed healthy sugar limits.
- Don't forget your protein and fats in order to make it a true meal replacement. Example ingredients include nuts, seeds, nut butter and even avocado!
- Count those calories. If it’s fully replacing a meal, make sure your smoothie serving is big enough to get you the calories you need in your specific meal plan or level of physical activity.
In the end, the most important thing is a holistic approach to nutrition. For the healthiest results, aim to combine both meals and smoothies, versus skipping one in lieu of the other. This ensures you get maximum fitness, hydration and health benefits!