I’ve Beginning to drink smoothies mixing with yogurt, two scoops of protein powder, frozen fruit and orange juice. Am missing anything important that I should be putting in there. And what exactly does the protein do for me?
This looks like a good starter smoothie to me. It’s a great way to get you on the smoothie-making wagon and you can make alterations as you learn more about different nutrients and superfoods (stay tuned to my column for ideas). While most people start out making smoothies that taste great, I think one of the biggest advantages of smoothies is that they allow you to get nutrients and vitamins that you aren’t getting from the rest of your diet.
One example of this is greens. You can easily blend in a handful of spring mix, spinach, romaine lettuce, etc., (you won’t notice the taste) to get a heap of important green vegetables (and who among us couldn’t use more greens?). Carrots and celery also make good smoothie additions, and I recommend experimenting with other vegetables too, for example, my latest experiment has me using fennel — it’s delicious!
Throwing in a few superfoods is also highly beneficial: goji berries for vitamin C; chlorella for mega-greens and magnesium; flax or chia seeds for some omega-3 fats. You may even want to add a tablespoon of flax oil to really get a good dose of those ultra-important omega-3 fats into your diet. I look at my morning as a delivery system for getting nutrient-dense foods into my body.
What’s So Great About Protein?
As for protein, which is one of the main building blocks for our bodies along with fat and carbohydrates, the list of benefits is huge. In fact, you should try to get some protein with every meal, which is the main reason one would add it to a smoothie. If you left the protein out, you’d likely find yourself hungry not too long after drinking it. Without the sustained energy release of protein, you’d burn right through it.
This being said, you don’t necessarily need a protein supplement. Weight lifters and other athletes load up on whey protein, adding it to their shakes to provide the raw materials for muscle building, but you probably don’t need massive quantities of the stuff. Although whey protein is advantageous because it’s easily absorbed, some, myself included, prefer vegetable sources of protein, but this is a matter of choice. I personally use brown rice protein or pea protein, but I avoid soy. You can also get protein by adding in nut butters or soaked nuts, seeds like chia or flax, or superfood green algae like spirulina or chlorella. The yogurt you’re using also provides dairy protein.
But two scoops seems like it may be a lot of protein powder, considering you also have yogurt in there and you may want to cut back. Also, the Costco brand may not be the best choice of protein supplement. When it comes to supplements, you get what you pay for and cheap, big name brands bought from drug stores and box stores are often of extremely low quality. Goat whey protein, which is more easily digested, is available in health food stores as are other vegetarian-source protein powders. Experiment a bit, find the one that works well for you by seeing how you feel after you drink your smoothie.
Another idea you might want to move into is lowering the sugar content of your drink by swapping water in for the juice. The fruit is sweet enough on it’s own that you won’t notice much of a difference. And you can always add in a bit of stevia for sweetness without adding to the glycemic load.
Now, before you get overwhelmed by all these suggestions, remember that this stuff can all be done gradually. You can transition from juice to water by slowly increasing dilution; you can add in a superfood without taking any of the existing stuff out; you can cut back on the protein powder and then replace it with something different when it runs out. Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all, so it’ll be easier for you to transition to a healthier smoothie if you do it slowly. My own recipe is constantly evolving as I learn new things and try different combinations. It keeps things interesting, too, so you’re not drinking the same meal every day.
Answered by Dr. Doug DiPasquale – A Healthy Foodie