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WHETHER your goal is to gain or lose weight, if you are searching for ways to supercharge your fitness journey, you may not need to look further than a really good smoothie. Fitness expert and personal trainer Gisel Harrow said that smoothies done the right way can bring a healthy alternative to your diet — the key is the ingredients that you put into them.
“Naturally, smoothies are nutritious snacks which we can often depend on to fuel the body with a variety of nutrients such as fibre, vitamins and minerals. And while smoothies can be quite healthy, there is also the possibility that smoothies can also contribute to unintentional weight gain since they are often calorie-rich, which can become quite burdensome if your intention is not to gain,” Harrow said.
To avoid this dilemma, and certainly to ensure that you have the best shot at creating the best smoothie, Harrow has shared a list of some of the best and most nutritious ingredients that you can add to your smoothies without driving the calories sky-high.
Start with one cup of fresh or frozen fruits. Some great fruit bases include strawberries, blueberries, mangoes, bananas, pineapples, cherries and peaches. Not only are these fruits a delicious combination, but they are packed with nutrients and antioxidants.
If you don't mind the green colour, adding a handful of spinach or kale is a good way to bring more antioxidants to your drink. These greens also give your smoothie more body, and if you are concerned about the taste of these greens there is not much to worry about because the flavour from a small serving is virtually undetectable when paired with fruits such as bananas.
One cup of plain Greek yoghurt, which has up to 24 grams of this hunger-busting nutrient, is a perfect addition to a smoothie. Another great option, especially if you want a body fuel-based ingredient, would be to use protein powder. “If you're going this route, keep an eye on the labels and watch out for added or artificial sweeteners — which you should aim to avoid because these can be counterproductive. You'll also want to take note of the protein source, especially if you're following certain dietary restrictions (like avoiding dairy or soy),” Harrow advised. She said some popular options include whey protein and pea protein, but you can also find protein in almond, peanut, hemp, egg white, soy, brown rice, and others.
It's natural to cringe at the sound of fats, especially if you have been hiding from the pounds. But there are a number of healthy fats which not only come with a tonne of benefits but also contribute to great-tasting smoothies. Included on this list are nut butter, seeds such as chia, hemp or ground flax seeds, and avocados. These can also make your smoothie extra filling, which means you will feel full for much longer and, depending on which one you choose, may bring heart-protecting omega-3 fatty acids or monounsaturated fats.
You may not want to limit your choice of liquid in your smoothie to water at all times. Some other healthy and nutritious options include milk (soy, almond, non-dairy), or coconut water, which is often used when blending fruit smoothies.
Spices can be the perfect ingredient to give your smoothie a delicious edge. Spices such as cinnamon, cocoa powder, ginger and turmeric are not only great-tasting but they also come with a number of benefits — from helping to regulate blood pressure and sugar levels, contributing to the lowering of cholesterol, to aiding with soothing the stomach as well as inflammation and pain.
Harrow said that there is really no rule to the ingredients you use. It's always exciting to mix and match the ingredients that appeal to your taste buds. The only rule that you need to keep sight of is to always remain within your calorie-intake limit.