Portable and packed with nutrients in every sip, a smoothie can be a great vehicle for getting in your macronutrients, whether for breakfast, to fuel up for or recover from a workout, or as a between-meal energy boost. Emphasis on “can be.” If you go easy on the sugar, amp up the protein, and include nutritional powerhouses, your sip’s a star. But it’s all too easy to buzz up a calorie bomb that won’t bring you any gains. Get wise to these mistakes to avoid, so you can feel good drinking what’s in your glass.
Smoothie Screw-Up #1: Being Fuzzy on Your Slurp’s Purpose
Before throwing in ingredients and hitting “buzz,” consider your goal. Do you want your smoothie to serve as a meal replacement, an addition to your breakfast, or just as a snack? Your answer will guide what you add to your blender and in what amounts. “You’ll want to include more protein and slightly more fat if your smoothie is meant to be a meal, and smaller portions if you’re having it in addition to a meal,” says Kelly Jones MS, RD, CSSD, LDN.
For a post-workout smoothie, pack in more protein, in the form of Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, nut butters, and protein powder, and watch the fat content, she says.
Smoothie Screw-Up #2: Using the Wrong Liquid
Hungry afterward? Almond milk and coconut milk are favorites for smoothies, but they don’t supply protein to keep you satisfied, says Jones. “If you don’t drink dairy, choose soy milk for a plant-based option to get this essential nutrient. Or, add yogurt or a whole food plant protein powder like pea or hemp protein,” she says. As an athlete, you need the muscle-building benefit of protein to power you.
Smoothie Screw-Up #3: Forgetting the Veggies
Greens like swiss chard and spinach bring good stuff like magnesium, potassium, protein, and iron, to replenish lost electrolytes and soothe muscles post-workout. And unlike fruit, they’re low in calories and sugar.
Frozen diced cauliflower, cucumbers, and carrots all add nutrients without screaming, “There’s veggies in here!” You can still toss in a fruit, but add veggies as well as protein and good fats, and you’re set.
Smoothie Screw-Up #4: Unknowingly Sipping Added Sugar
If you choose a prepared, packaged smoothie or hit up your local juice store, guaranteed there’s added sugar in your glass. Honey, flavored yogurt and fruit juices all jack up the sugar count, so specifically ask for your sip without these ingredients. Ingredients like vanilla extract and maca root powder add sweetness without sugar.
Smoothie Screw-Up #5: You’re Just Not a “Meal Replacement” Person
You swig a 400-calorie smoothie for breakfast, only to be hungry an hour later, reaching for more calories. Sound familiar?
“For some people, liquid calories, even with the right balance of nutrients, just aren’t satisfying. You may be someone who psychologically needs to be putting a fork or spoon to your mouth and chew to be satisfied from a meal,” says Jones. Try a thicker smoothie bowl topped with seeds and fresh fruit that you’ll have to chew. Still hungry? Regard smoothies as snacks rather than meals and size them down accordingly.