Weight Loss Smoothies
Smoothies may be effective for weight loss, although many smoothies contain very high sugar levels. Users should reduce their sugar and fat intake in their other foods and pick low-sugar smoothies.
Fruit and vegetable smoothies are often held up as an example of a healthy weight loss option. Many of these smoothies, however, contain high levels of natural sugar which is more damaging to the body and its weight than would be the case if users ate fruit instead of drinking its juices. Users should be careful to pick low-sugar smoothies containing many leafy green vegetables, as well as high levels of fiber and protein. It’s also important to ensure that levels of sugar and fat eaten in other foods are kept low to help the dieting process.
How do Weight Loss Smoothies Work?
The idea behind weight loss smoothies is simple: with many people’s diets containing large quantities of fatty, unhealthy, processed foods, it’s beneficial to substitute some meals or snacks with healthier alternatives, primarily fruit and vegetables. As eating appropriate levels of fruit and vegetables can be difficult, many dieters prefer to take in their plant-based food in the form of an easy to drink smoothie. Typically, smoothie dieters will choose to drink a healthy fruit or vegetable in place of eating breakfast as a tasty, nutritious way to begin the day that is lower in calories than many traditional breakfast foods. Alternatively, dieters may choose to drink smoothies throughout the day as a healthy alternative to soft drinks or other snacks, in order to replace negative food and drink habits with something that will improve their general health and to help lose weight.
The weight loss benefits to health smoothies are clear: choosing to drink smoothies that are rich in Vitamin C and other important vitamins and minerals which are present in many fruits and vegetables is healthier than eating meals or snacks consisting of large quantities of salt, sugar and fat. With a vegetable-rich diet comes a better level of general health, and a reduction in calories means that the user can lose weight in a sustainable, natural way that doesn’t put an undue strain on the body. That said, it’s important to note that not all smoothies are beneficial for general health, and some may actually increase weight gain, especially when these smoothies contain large quantities of sugar.
Fruit Smoothies and Sugar Levels
For many years it was the accepted wisdom that fruit juices had health benefits – after all, eating fruit is helpful for general health, so if people chose to drink juices and smoothies instead of eating the fruit in their natural form, it was expected that the user would gain the same benefits regardless of what form of fruit they ingested.
More recent studies, however, have found that fruit juices may be far more harmful than previously believed. Fruit is naturally rich in sugar, which can cause health problems when consumed in large doses, but which is typically counterbalanced by the level of fiber present in fruit in its natural form. Fruit juice, on the other hand, contains all of the sugar present in fruit but without the fiber that would typically be present. It’s also far easier to drink a smoothie containing large quantities of fruit juice than it is to eat the equivalent amount of fruit, meaning that a large dose of sugar enters the bloodstream at the same time. It’s also important to note that eating the whole fruit is generally more filling than just drinking the fruit juice, so drinking a fruit smoothie may involve taking in a large dose of sugar without curbing the user’s appetite.
For this reason, scientists now consider fruit juices and fruit smoothies to be harmful to the body and its metabolism, especially considering that the level of sugar present in many fruit juices are comparable to levels found in soft drinks. Users who rely on fruit smoothies as a healthy, low calorie alternative to soft drinks and other snacks may end up disappointed by their effects, as the high levels in these drinks may actually lead to weight gain rather than weight loss.
This is not to say that weight loss smoothies cannot contain fruits, but it’s important to note that fruit juices are not the most effective ingredients in weight loss smoothies. It’s important to bear in mind the levels of sugar that are naturally present in fruits, and to ensure that the amount of fruit smoothie that is drunk during the day is kept low to avoid adverse health and weight effects.
Far more effective in aiding weight loss are so-called ‘green smoothies’ which contain large quantities of green vegetables instead of fruits. These smoothies have far lower sugar levels, and therefore typically don’t taste as good as fruit smoothies and are, as a natural result, far less popular, but they have a much more significant positive health benefit.
There are many health benefits associated with increasing the level of green vegetables in the diet. An increase in vitamin C means general body health, plus the vitamins and minerals provided by green smoothies help to strengthen the immune system and aid recovery from illness.
As with pure fruit smoothies, though, users need to be careful with the levels of sugar present in green smoothies. While the green colouring is usually provided thanks to a leafy vegetable, many smoothies use a fruit juice base, or feature fruits as a main ingredient to improve the taste. This can mean a high sugar content which causes the same problems to the user’s blood sugar level that would be experienced with other types of fruit drinks, as well as many sugary soft drinks. Users looking to use smoothies to lose weight should avoid high levels of sugar in all forms within their drinks.
Protein and Fibre in Smoothies
Another problem that many smoothie drinkers experience is a lack of satiety from smoothie drinks. While smoothies are often used as an alternative to meals, drinking juice can often mean missing out on the filling elements of the fruits and vegetables that smoothies are made from.
Protein is a very filling substance – when the body ingests protein, it quickly sends signals to the brain telling it not to overeat, meaning that the user will feel fuller for longer. It’s possible to get these benefits from smoothies by including ingredients such as nuts and beans, which are naturally high in protein.
Fibre is another important element of many fruits and vegetables which, if users are not careful, may be stripped from the fruit by the process of preparing smoothies. It can help to include ingredients such as wheat, barley, oats or grains to make smoothies more filling, helping the body to avoid feeling hungry shortly after drinking a smoothie.
There have been many studies into obesity and the consumption of fruit and vegetables. One study from 2001 compared the effects of deliberately increasing fruit and vegetable consumption against the effects of deliberately limiting the amount of high fat and high sugar foods that were eaten. Over the course of a year, obese participants were either instructed to limit their consumption of high fat and sugar foods, or to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables they ate. At the end of the trial period, it was found that the participants who had been working to increase their fruit and vegetable intake had lost more weight and were living more healthily than those who were simply attempting to cut out unhealthy foods. The study concluded that in order to provide lasting weight loss results, it’s more effective to eat more healthy food than it is to try to reduce the levels of unhealthy food that is consumed.
Similarly, a study from 2015 looked at the effects of various clinical trials conducted between 1986 and 2010, utilising a sample of over 100,000 participants. It was found that, on average, increased fruit and green vegetable intake led to significant decreases in weight for most participants. That said, some vegetables which contain high levels of starch, such as peas, corn and potatoes, had the opposite effect, causing participants to gain additional weight. These ingredients are not typically included in smoothies, although users hoping to lose weight should avoid over indulging on these vegetables.
As these studies were conducted on participants eating the entirety of the fruits and vegetables rather than drinking them in smoothie forms, it is not certain whether the high levels of sugar and relatively low levels of fiber found in most smoothies would affect the results – users should therefore be careful not to assume that drinking smoothies means earning negative calories that they can consume later in the day, for example by drinking a smoothie to offset the calories in a piece of cake.
A study from 2014 looked at the effects of an increase in fruit and vegetables on weight loss, and found that there was ‘no discernible effect’ on participants’ weight. This conclusion was reached by analysing the results of a variety of other studies. This study claims that increasing healthy consumption of fruits and vegetables has no effect on weight loss if the user does not also reduce the amount of high fat and sugar foods that they are eating – hence the importance to use weight loss smoothies as a substitute for unhealthy food, rather than a supplement.
Side Effects associated with Smoothies
Provided that the smoothies users are drinking are pure, there are very few serious negative effects associated with moderate drinking. As with any food, it’s dangerous to rely heavily on a small number of foods, so users should be careful to vary their diet to avoid overdosing on particular ingredients within smoothies, and to ensure that the body gets a varied source of all essential foodstuffs.
Users who intend to rely heavily on weight loss smoothies may wish to consider their usage of multivitamin supplements. There may be issues surrounding either an overabundance or natural lack of key vitamins, and it might be important to balance the use of multivitamins to respond to the body’s natural needs and maximum tolerance levels depending on the type of smoothie used. That said, it’s not possible to overdose on Vitamin C, so users shouldn’t worry about negative effects of most fruit and vegetables used in smoothies, as long as the ingredients are pure.
It’s worth noting that large quantities of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, oranges, beetroots and tomatoes, have known to stain the user’s skin to unusual colours. This effect will depend on the quantities of fruit that the user is consuming, and also on the user’s natural skin tone – darker skin won’t stain as noticeably as a paler complexion. Those who experience a change in skin colour will return to normal after the dosage of these fruits and vegetables have been reduced.
The primary negative effect that users may experience when consuming large quantities of fruit, vegetables and fiber is one of stomach troubles. A high fruit and fiber diet is likely to cause a diuretic effect, and users may experience discomfort and gassiness as a result. In most cases, this is entirely harmless, and anyone wishing to reduce these effects should scale back the amount of fruit and fiber present in their diet.
When used in conjunction with a sensible, healthy diet and exercise regime, fruit and vegetables-based smoothies may be effective in aiding weight loss and in aiding the general health of the body. Studies have shown that high levels of fruit and vegetables, when combined with a low calorie diet, aid weight loss. That said, users should be careful to avoid high quantities of sugar found in many fruit juices, as this sugar without the fruit’s natural fibre content can end up producing adverse effects on the user’s body weight and general health.
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