Smoothie is Not King

I came to a disappointing realization this week. Smoothies do not make a good breakfast for me…again, so disappointing. My husband drinks one every morning, and has been for several months. I decided to join in the morning smoothie goodness out of convenience, because our microwave is on the fritz and I cannot heat up my usual egg and greens scramble. 
This week my husband and I are having the exact same smoothie. They fill him up and leave him satiated for hours.  (Satiated being a fancy nutrition word for feeling full and satisfied.) He does not need a snack between breakfast and lunch. On the other hand I drink the same smoothie and still feel hungry afterwards. I also get hangry (hungry and angry as a result of low blood sugar) and shaky 2-3 hours later and MUST have a snack before lunch. This does not happen with my usual breakfast of eggs and greens.
I did a quick nutrient analysis on this week’s recipe just to make sure it was Grateful Guts balanced, meaning it had adequate protein, plenty of fat and was high fiber.  The analysis met my criteria.  It was very nutrient dense, with 50% of calories coming from healthy fat, 20% coming from protein and 30% coming from carbohydrates, with more than 9 grams of fiber.  
The nutrient breakdown is ideal, so the question of the week…what is my problem?  The answer…nothing, I have no problem. This is one of the best examples that demonstrates how individualized nutrition is for each person. What works for my husband does not work for me. 
You see foods that are blended or juiced are already partially broken down/partially digested before they even get to your stomach, which makes the rest of the digestion easier for your gut and faster. I simply digest, absorb and metabolize the nutrients in smoothies faster than my husband does. My body functions a lot better when I have to chew my food rather than just drink it.
To recap, the moral of this story is that everyone’s nutrient needs are different in form and function.
Just because smoothies do not work for me as a complete meal, does not mean that they will not work for others, my husband is a prime example. Most importantly, when testing smoothies for yourself, remember to ensure that it is nutrient dense and balanced.  Create a real meal in a glass rather than a sugar bomb that will send you on a blood sugar roller coaster and leave you hangry within 2 hours.   
Follow these tips for making balanced smoothie creations:

  1.  Use water as the main liquid source.
  2. Add healthy fat using sources such as full fat coconut milk from the can, coconut oil, avocados or MCT oil.
  3. Stuff in at least 2 handfuls of greens. I like spinach the best, but kale works well too.
  4. Find a quality protein powder and avoid junky ingredients and additives.  My best recommendations are high quality gelatin, like that found from Great Lakes; an unflavored grass fed whey protein powder; or a vegan protein powder that has at least 2 sources of plant-based protein. We use Sun Warrior. Regardless of the protein powder you use select a brand that has 5 ingredients or less.
  5. Add ½-1 cup of high fiber fruits.  Berries are my favorite. Right now we are using fresh blueberries because they are in season. During the winter we buy frozen organic berries.
  6. Use ½ of a banana if you need a little extra sweetness.
  7. When assembling your smoothie, put all of the liquids and greens in first and blend until the greens are liquefied.  Add the remaining ingredients and blend until you reach your desired texture.
  8. Follow the Grateful Guts recipe for making a big batch of smoothies in advance. This recipe makes 5 servings that are 2 cups each.
·         32 ounces water
·         1 can full fat coconut milk
·         1 avocado
·         5 handfuls of greens from the farmer’s market or a 5 ounce package
·         1 ½ cups fresh berries or 10 ounce package of frozen berries (buy organic)
·         1 banana
·         5 scoops Sun Warrior protein powder