Pimp My Smoothie Part 1: Goals and Gains
- Written by Kelly Harris
- July 18, 2021
- 6 min read
Personalised nutrition is pretty hot right now in the health and wellness world. It’s attractive because it allows us to manage our own health in a lifestyle-based way, which makes us feel a bit more in control of our own health and wellness.
However, you don’t need genetic profiling or a fancy Harley Street clinic’s nutrition plan to make some simple, common-sense changes in your diet as a part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
I’ve always found that smoothies are the best way to sneak additional nutrients into my clients’ diets (not to mention my own too!) to meet their current dietary and wellness needs. Here are five tips to personalise your smoothies:
1) When You’re Stressed Out
When we become stressed, the first thing our bodies deplete are vitamin C, the B vitamins and magnesium. Many of us are actually magnesium deficient, so you’ll probably find a noticeable benefit from supplementing with these nutrients when you are going through a stressful time.
Start by choosing your favourite smoothie kit or recipe and make sure it is one that is rich in vitamin C ingredients. I recommend adding lots of frozen berries. For even more of a vitamin C boost, add a dose of camu camu powder, which has 60 times more vitamin C per serving than an orange does!
The full range of B vitamins are a bit harder to get into your smoothie via natural food-based ingredients, so vitamin B complex drops are available in a liquid form and are easy to add into your smoothie before it is blended.
Magnesium is quite an important nutrient to include in your smoothie and you can add magnesium-rich ingredients to your smoothie like pumpkin seeds (or a big spoonful of pumpkin seed butter) and dark leafy greens like kale and spinach. Banana and avocado are great additions too. If you are particularly stressed out, however, I recommend finding a magnesium powder-based supplement that uses a combination of the bisglycinate and/or citrate forms of this mineral which are easier for most people to absorb efficiently.
2) When You’re Pregnant
I recently wrote a whole article on the subject of smoothies for pregnancy (which you can READ HERE), but if I were to summarise it in a nutshell: including protein and healthy fats in your smoothies is probably the best way to make your smoothie meet your pregnant body’s needs.
I’d encourage you to try adding food-based sources of protein and fat into your smoothie, such as a spoonful of peanut butter, almond butter or ½ a cup of natural unsweetened yoghurt. You could also add a few cubes of raw tofu or even cooked (unflavoured) black beans as a source of protein, but then make sure you’re adding a healthy fat source in the form of nut butters or avocado chunks too.
3) Heart Healthy Tweaks
If you’re minding your diet because of a family history of heart disease, or because your doctor has told you to make more heart-healthy dietary choices, well my friend, smoothies are for you. They are delicious and with a few simple additions to your favourite basic smoothie recipe, you can sneak in a whole whack of antioxidants and sources of fibre to help prevent coronary heart disease.
Whichever basic smoothie recipe you start with, make sure you’re including lots of berries – frozen strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are very good value in the supermarket. Berries are low in sugars and are full of fibre and heart-healthy antioxidants. You can also add antioxidant fruit powders to boost your smoothie’s nutrient values and intensify its fruity taste. There are fancy antioxidant freeze-dried powders of goji, camu camu and acerola which you can buy online and in natural foods stores, but to be honest, I’m quite fond of plain old-fashioned blueberry, cranberry, strawberry and raspberry powders, which are all tasty and are superfoods in their own right…just with fewer air miles behind them!
If you include a couple of tablespoons of oats and a teaspoon of flaxseed or chia in your smoothie before blending, you’ll also be giving it a creamier texture and additional fibre which will help with lowering overall LDL cholesterol levels.
4) Pre & Post Workout Tweaks
A smoothie is a great way to give yourself a combination of all the nutrients you’ll need to power through a workout without all the heaviness that a solid meal will give you. Be sure to drink your pre-workout smoothie around 30-60 minutes before your gym session starts and include ingredients that will give you enough energy for your workout. Even a simple combination of a frozen banana, a tablespoon of peanut butter and 250ml of almond milk thrown in the blender is a great way to prepare for a workout.
If you prefer your smoothie as a post-workout refuel, that’s great too. When I work with athletes I usually ask them to consume an electrolyte drink before they workout and to drink their protein smoothie within 45 minutes of their workout finishing. A few carbohydrates and proteins in the form of an easily digested meal after a workout will promote muscle growth and help with recovery. I’d recommend purchasing a protein powder to make sure you’re getting enough amino acids to meet your body’s post-workout needs. There are so many great protein powders on the market right now which are organic, free from artificial sweeteners and are full of clean ingredients. Find one which you are able to digest well and which you enjoy. I find that if you don’t enjoy the taste of your protein powder, then it tends to sit on the shelf unloved and unused.
5) When You Need To Lose Weight
Weight loss can be such a complex issue and the reasons for an individual struggling to lose weight are numerous: too numerous to be succinctly or adequately addressed here. But I can give you some general tips which may help you incorporate smoothies as part of your healthy weight loss strategy.
If your smoothie is too sweet, it could be that you are consuming too many calories and are spiking your blood sugar levels which is going to contribute to your stubborn belly fat staying firmly in place. Try reducing or eliminating the sweeter fruits in your smoothie – particularly tropical fruits like banana, mango and pineapple. Berries are lower in sugars and high in fibre, so include those and balance them with the addition of vegetables, like dark leafy greens and/or chunks of squash and sweet potato. Fibre is also going to be your friend in achieving a healthy weight loss. Make sure you incorporate some chia or flax seeds as well.
That doesn’t sound quite as appealing as your tropical tutti-fruity smoothie did? I get that. But you’ll need to be careful about what you add to your smoothie to make it taste sweeter. Most artificial sweeteners and natural sugar alternatives will still trigger insulin release, and during weight loss we want to keep your blood sugar very, very balanced. So, you might find that a vanilla protein powder sweetened with stevia will make all the difference. The protein will help keep you feeling fuller for longer, the stevia will not impact your blood sugar levels and will make your smoothie taste sweet and the vanilla has a sneaky way of making your smoothie appear to taste sweeter than it actually is.
There is a way to personalise your smoothie to meet just about everybody’s nutritional and lifestyle needs. Sometimes it just takes a little thought and preparation. We’d love to hear from you on social media if you’ve got any smoothie conundrums which we can help solve.
I have included the Amazon Affiliate links for the brands of supplements I have found effective and recommend to my own clients, but if you have the time I encourage you to speak to a nutrition professional at your own local independent health food store for their recommendations. Dosages for all the above recommendations should be in line with what the manufacturer recommends, unless you are otherwise advised by a nutrition professional or a doctor. Please do not consume any foods or supplements which are contraindicated with any medications you are taking.
Gibney M, Walsh M, Goosens J. Personalized nutrition: paving the way to better population health. In: Eggersdorfer M, Kraemer M, Vordaro JB, et al, eds. Good nutrition: perspectives for the 21st century. Karger Publishers, 2016: 235-48.