Carbohydrates are locked and loaded with fueling sugars for energy, fiber for digestion, and micronutrients/phytonutrients for general support (hormones, immune system, detox). A big problem I see in smoothie recipes is the proportion of starchy fruits and vegetables to other ingredients. Try to limit your smoothies to <1/2 – 1 cup starchy carbs to lower your smoothie’s Glycemic Load, which will help regulate your blood sugar. When your blood sugar is in balance, then your energy levels, mood, and hormones will follow suit. The following fruits and sweet vegetables are listed in general order by Glycemic Load. Berries have the lowest Glycemic Load, while Bananas, Apples, and Potatoes have a higher GL.
Fruit/ Sweet Vegetables: 1 piece or ~ ½ cup – 1 cup
Berries: Blueberries, Strawberries, Blackberries, Cranberry, Pomegranate
Citrus: Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit, Clementine, Orange
Melon: Watermelon, Honeydew, Cantaloupe
Stone Fruit: Peaches, Apricot, Plum, Cherries
Tropical Variety: Guava, Kiwi, Pineapple, Dragon Fruit, Papaya, Mango, Banana
Pome: Apple, Pear, Quince, Loquat
Vegetables: Cooked Carrots, Sweet Potato, Beets
Crunchy, hydrating, and leafy green vegetables are a powerhouse addition to any smoothie. Hearty greens are packed with vitamins and minerals that up your smoothie to “liquid multi-vitamin” level. Sometimes hearty greens can be hard to break down, so: use a high speed blender, massage greens before use, try a more tender baby version, aka Baby Kale. Don’t forget that herbs are also packed with vitamins and phytonutrients to support your body. For example, 1 handful of Parsley has over 50% your RDA of Vitamin C and over 500% of heart healthy Vitamin K. I try to add (hide) at least 1 serving of Green Vegetable to every smoothie.
Green Vegetables: 1 – 2 Handfuls
Hearty Greens: Kale, Collards, Beet & Turnip Greens, Dandelion Greens
Lettuces: Romaine, Spinach, Microgreens
Herbs: Basil, Parsley, Mint, Lemon Balm
Cooling Vegetables: Cucumber, Zucchini, Celery, Cauliflower
Power of Protein:
Adding a source of protein to your smoothie provides the building blocks to fuel your body. For breakfast, you should aim for ~20 g of protein. Animal sources of protein provide a complete amino acid profile, while vegetarian protein needs to be balanced with multiple sources. Collagen powders and full fat diary sources (if tolerated) from yogurt or cottage cheese do the trick. I want to note that dairy-free yogurts from almonds, cashew, coconut, etc. do not offer the same protein content as dairy yogurt, so they are not an equal 1:1 substitute for protein. Most vegan yogurts only contain 0 – 6 g of protein/ serving. Remember that most plant-based whole foods protein sources are also sources of healthy fat, and should be counted as such. For example, 1 tablespoon of almond butter has ~4 g of Protein and ~9g of Fat.