So you have heard that protein shakes and smoothies are great for weight loss and you’re about to dive deep into a rabbit hole of delicious recipes. But before you swap out your lunch for a banana thick shake inspired drink, be sure to know how to avoid a calorie blow out. While protein shakes can provide a suitable meal replacement and can keep you feeling fuller for longer, knowing how to manage your ingredients is crucial.
Despite the fact that you may be filling your blender with healthy elements such as fruits and nut butters, you may still be doing more harm than good if weight loss is the aim. Too many calories consumed and you could be contributing to unnecessary calories consumed or undoing all your hard work put in at the gym. On the contrary, if you are not adding enough of the right ingredients and balancing your macronutrient then you could be left feeling hungry and snacking between meals.
The aim is to provide an adequate mix of macronutrients to keep you feeling full and satisfied.
Let’s talk protein shakes, micronutrients and meal replacement
If you are using protein powders as a meal replacement, your smoothies should aim to have between 5-10 grams of fibre, 15 – 20 grams of protein, 40 – 50 grams of carbohydrates and 10-15 grams of healthy fats. It should also aim to have less than 30 grams of sugar according to resident Happy Way nutritionist Malissa Fedele. Combining all of these elements will ensure you create a smoothie that is both filling and will sustain your blood sugar levels in the hours that follow. This also requires focusing on the right ingredients such as wholesome foods, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. But before we start with the ingredients, let us help you choose the right protein powder for you.
How to choose the right protein powder for you
Adding protein powder into your smoothie is an effective way of ensuring satiety and providing a meal replacement that will keep you feeling fuller for longer. When combined with the right ingredients it will help send signals to your brain that you are not hungry and will help keep your sugar levels stable. However, with thousands of brands and options on the market, choosing the right protein powder can be as overwhelming as starting your weight loss journey.
If you are looking to lose weight, opt for a protein supplement free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives. Unnecessary fillers will not only drive up your smoothies calorie count but may lead to sugar cravings throughout the day. In addition to choosing a clean product, you should consider your dietary requirements. Vegan protein powders offer a suitable alternative for both vegans, and vegetarians and people who may experience digestive issues when consuming whey.
The Happy Way vegan protein powder range contains all the necessary amino acids making it a complete protein.
Now let’s talk fibre
Fiber is one of the most important ingredients to add to your smoothies and shakes if weight loss is the result you are looking for. Not only is it beneficial for heart health and digestive health, fibre also works to help stabilise your blood sugar levels and will leave you feeling fuller for longer. Not sure where to start? The below sources are packed full of wholesome sources of fibre.
Hemp seeds and protein powders combined pack a punch when it comes to weight loss benefits. A single serving of hemp seeds offers 8 grams of fibre and between 15-20 grams of protein. The added benefits include magnesium, which will help your muscles relax post workout and mood-boosting omega-3 fatty acids.
Don’t let size fool you because chia seeds are amongst the healthiest and hardest working seeds on the planet. Not only are they packed full of fiber, 6 grams per tablespoon, they are also packed full of protein helping satisfy your food cravings for longer. They also help flush out toxins from your system and speed up your weight loss process.
Greens and vegetables
Leafy greens contain around 5-6 grams of fiber per 2 cups. They are also a great way to fill your smoothie with nutrient and vitamin rich ingredients, which are low in calories. Spinach, kale, leafy greens, salad and even green herbs all make for a great fibre addition to your smoothie.
Now let’s talk carbohydrates
When we think of carbohydrates we often think of starchy sources such as bread and pasta which is why this necessary word receives a bad reputation in the realm of weight loss. However, carbohydrates are in fact in everything that we eat, our fruits and vegetables included. As an example, a cup of chopped fruit usually contains anywhere between 15-20 grams of carbohydrates. What is important to recognise is that not all sources of carbohydrates are made equal and that complex and wholesome sources can in fact support your weight loss journey.
As the backbone of many smoothie recipes, bananas form a staple in many fitness devotees diets. However, when it comes to shedding kilos or weight management, bananas receive a bad reputation. But contrary to popular belief, they can in fact aid in weight loss. Studies have found that bananas not only help reduce bloat and belly fat but they are also packed full of potassium which helps reduce water retention. Also a good source of fibre, a banana in your smoothie will help keep you feeling fuller for longer, cutting out the need to snack.
Oats are also a great way to add carbohydrates into your meal replacement smoothie with half a cup containing around 27 grams of carbohydrates. Oats are not only packed full of fibre and are low in calories, they are also a great source of protein and will help you feel full and satisfied after your smoothie.
It’s easy to see why a delicate balance of your macronutrients is required when you are making your smoothie. Combining both a banana, oats and fruits can easily bump up your carbohydrates count and lead to a calorie blow out. However carbohydrates are necessary if you are looking to use protein shake as a meal replacement and don't want to be left feeling hungry, flat and more importantly grumpy throughout the day.
Now let’s talk healthy fats…
Almond butter is a weight loss super star. While it may be tempting to assume that fats lead to weight gain, healthy fats such as almond butter can in fact help keep you feeling fuller for longer without contributing to weight gain. Packed full of fat-burning compounds that limit the amount of fat absorbed by the body, almond butter passes through the digestive system largely unabsorbed. Moreover, almond butter is packed full of protein which will help contribute to lean muscle mass.
When it comes to high achievers, avocado takes the crown. While avocados are high in calories, with an average medium sized avocado containing around 350 calories and 30 grams of fat, they are packed full of monounsaturated and oleic fats, which all work to help reduce belly fat. Moreover avocados are known for their appetite suppressing qualities with studies linking regular consumption to an overall lower calorie intake. A study published by the Nutrition Journal found that individuals who consumed half an avocado every day reported a 40% decrease in appetite throughout the day. If that’s not enough to make it a diet staple, avocados also help boost metabolism and exercise endurance making it the perfect addition to your pre workout shake.
Let’s talk sugar
When it comes to the sugar content of your smoothie, it’s important to track the fruits you are adding to your repertoire. Low sugar fruits include raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and kiwi all of which have between 5-10 grams of sugar per cup.
While it may be tempting to add honey, dates and even dry fruits into your smoothie, these healthy albeit calorie dense additions can easily drive up your calorie count. Just one medjool date contains 16 grams of sugar while a tablespoon of honey contains around the same amount. These two ingredients alone can account to your entire sugar allowance meaning you wouldn’t be able to include a banana or any additional fruits in your smoothie without going over your recommended intake.