You see so many healthy smoothie recipes & people promoting shakes. But are smoothies good for weight loss? Here’s my opinion after losing 100 pounds.
I’ve lost 100 pounds myself and because I also run weight loss programs, I’m pretty steeped in the whole weight loss world.
And I am constantly being pitched different shakes (especially in my DMs on Instagram) like:
- Shakeology (from Beachbody)
There is a very good chance if you’ve looked into weight loss anything or ever posted anything weight loss-related yourself, that you’ve been inundated with ads and people telling you how crucial their specific weight loss smoothie or shake has been in their weight loss.
And, of course, there are non-MLM shakes like Premier Protein that are extremely popular, as well as endless “weight loss smoothie” recipes all over Pinterest.
But are shakes and smoothies actually good for weight loss?
In general, my personal answer is no, but there is more to it than that, so I wanted to break down the pros and cons of smoothies for weight loss that I’ve experienced myself and seen in the women I work with.
Keep in mind these are general pros and cons, but every body is different.
What didn’t work well for me might work great for you! I just wanted to lay out my own experience for you to have some information to consider in making the best decision for creating the diet that works best for you.
Weelicious drinks a smoothie every single morning for breakfast and it works amazing for her and her family…but they also aren’t using them to work toward any weight loss goals.
I’ve found that when you bring any kind of food issues in – overeating, binge eating, emotional eating, etc – it really changes the way “normal” eating habits fit into your life.
So, here are the pros and cons I’ve found for using smoothies as a part of your weight loss journey.
The Pros of Smoothies & Shakes
They are super convenient.
So many protein shakes (like Premier Protein) are packaged and ready-to-drink, making them a super easy and convenient breakfast or snack option.
Even if they aren’t completely pre-mixed for you, they are quick and easy to throw together in a blender or just mix together with liquid and powder.
Everyone is always looking for quick, ready-to-grab healthy snacks and meals, so I understand the appeal!
There was a short season of my weight loss where I would make a large batch of smoothies and pour them into small bottles and freeze them for a ready-to-eat breakfast.
They are a great way to get some good nutrition into your diet.
If your normal diet doesn’t include many fruits and veggies, smoothies are a great way to sneak them in to get your body some extra nutrients.
When I was just trying to eat more vegetables (one small change at a time!), I used green smoothies as a way to get some spinach into my diet. I couldn’t taste the vegetable at all, so it was really just a delicious and refreshing drink!
They taste good.
Like I mentioned, “hiding” spinach in a smoothie was easy when I covered the taste with fruit and protein powder!
Because most smoothies use a lot of fruit, they are pretty sweet and just taste good! Everyone loves when healthy foods are also delicious.
And shakes can come in so many different tempting flavor options – vanilla, chocolate, cake batter – yum!
The Cons of Smoothies & Shakes
They aren’t as filling as real food.
This is the biggest con of all for using a shake or smoothie for weight loss.
It seemed like no matter what ingredients I added to my smoothie, I would be hungry again an hour later. That’s really bad for weight loss when you’re trying to watch your calories, but they just aren’t filling you up, so you end up either eating more and going over your calories or starving yourself (which usually leads to a binge and also going over your calories!).
Whole, raw foods are digested in our bodies much differently than blended fruits and veggies. When you puree up the foods, you are processing them, taking away some of the work that your body would normally be doing (with chewing, etc).
Just the act of chewing helps you to feel full. And the faster you drink it, the less full you will feel.
Because you are able to drink a smoothie much faster than you would be able to chew all of the individual ingredients, you aren’t giving your brain and body enough time to sync up and cue one another that you’ve had enough food to feel full.
Even though you are still technically getting all of the fiber in the fruits and veggies you put into your smoothie, you have pulverized them, so your body doesn’t have to work as hard to digest it.
Even protein shakes that tout a high protein content just aren’t as filling as eating that same amount of protein in, say, a plate of eggs.
So, if your shake has enough calories in it to replace a meal and you find that you’re always starving soon after you drink it, smoothies might not be a good choice for you.
They can be very low in protein
Protein is essential to weight loss, especially for breakfast, because it is so important in helping you feel full. When I don’t eat enough protein for breakfast, it usually sets me up for a day of poor eating choices.
Many of the smoothie recipes I’ve seen include mostly fruit, which won’t do much for filling you up.
Adding protein (protein powder, Greek yogurt, nut butter, hemp seeds, etc) can be a great way to make smoothies more filling, so you can certainly try to bulk up your current smoothie recipes to see if that helps you feel full longer.
Honestly? That never worked for me. It helped, but drinking a smoothie just never kept me full as long as eating a real breakfast did.
You can also try adding healthy fats (avocado, seeds, nuts, etc) to beef up your smoothie to see if that will help. Of course, adding healthy fats can skyrocket those calories quickly, so be careful on the amounts of these!
They are often high in sugar.
Because smoothies are often packed with fruit, that means a high sugar content.
Normally, I wouldn’t recommend worrying about the sugar content in fruit because of the way the fiber balances it out, but, as we’ve talked about, the fiber isn’t digested quite the same way in smoothies, so I DO recommend watching the sugar content in smoothies.
Even Weight Watchers counts fruit in smoothies differently than the whole fruits!
The more veggie-heavy you can make your smoothie, the better, because they are so much lower in sugar!
They might trigger cravings.
Obviously, this isn’t the case for everybody, but I found that on the days I had smoothies, I had more food cravings later in the day (specifically food cravings for sweets – chocolate, ice cream, Little Debbie’s, etc).
Some common reasons smoothies might cause food cravings:
- they contain artificial sweeteners
- they leave you feeling hungry
- they are low in protein
- they are high in sugar
Now, I’ve also read that for some people, smoothies prevent food cravings too, so do some trial and error to figure out how your body responds.
Because I didn’t really use shakes or smoothies much on my weight loss journey, I don’t have very many smoothie recipes on my site!
When I do make smoothies, it is often this (or a variation of this) basic green smoothie recipe. I’ll often add protein powder and it’s usually more of an afternoon snack than a meal replacement.
I also love the taste of this mango chia smoothie! It has a bit of extra protein from Greek yogurt and chia seeds.