Consuming a morning smoothie can be a fantastic way to get all the essential macronutrients into your diet. They’re a great way to get plenty of nutrition into your body if you’re short on time and the great thing about them is that they can be consumed on the go meaning they’re the perfect option for anyone with a busy life.
While smoothies have plenty of benefits, they aren’t without their faults.
If you love a breakfast smoothie but lace it with all the wrong ingredients, your refreshing drink can cause a large blood sugar spike, leaving you feeling nauseous and tired rather than energetic and satisfied.
Even if you’ve added tonnes of healthy ingredients to your smoothie, it can still cause blood sugar spikes if portions are too large or if it’s not made with the right blend of ingredients.
When glucose levels spike quickly, insulin quickly attempts to remove the excess sugar from your blood and deposit it in your cells to use as energy, however, this can result in a blood sugar crash which leaves you feeling tired and nauseous.
If you have diabetes and spike your blood sugar with a smoothie, your cells may not be responding as well to insulin, so your sugar will stay elevated for longer. This can cause many symptoms including headaches, tiredness, and blurred vision.
Whether or not you have diabetes, following the below tips can help you to enjoy delicious smoothies and prevent blood sugar spikes.
Strike the right balance
It’s important for each meal and light snack you consume to contain a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. And that’s no different with smoothies. Ensuring you have the right mixture of macronutrients is important if you want to prevent unwanted blood sugar highs and lows.
To get the ‘perfect’ ratio of ingredients, a good guideline would be to follow my #funky5 recipes. These ensure that each smoothie provides a serving of protein, one serving of fruit, one serving of vegetables, a serving of healthy fat & fibre and a super boost to support your desired goal.
Sweetened yogurts, sweetened non-dairy milk, or juice can cause blood sugar spikes, especially when combined with all the natural sugar of fruit, so you want to make sure that you keep these ingredients to a minimum if you use them in your smoothie recipes.
Include healthful fats
Fats play a vital role in the body, helping to slow down the speed at which sugar enters the bloodstream and leaving you feeling satisfied until your next meal, which is why it’s important to include them in your smoothie recipes.
There are plenty of sources of healthful fats that can be used, such as chia seeds, but did you know that you can use peanut butter too?
Of course, you should add fats in moderation as too much fat can lead to weight gain – a rule of thumb is one serving.
Some great sources of fats you can add to your smoothie include:
- Nut butter – peanut and almond butter are both great choices
- Chia seeds
Just like with fat, protein has tonnes of health benefits. Not only does it help to slow the absorption of food which in turn helps to balance your blood sugar, but it also helps to repair cells, helps the muscles to grow, and keeps hunger at bay for hours.
The best way to get protein into your morning smoothie is from whole foods.
Some great sources of protein you can add to your smoothie include:
- plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt
- protein powder
- pumpkin seeds
- coconut milk
- flax seeds
Add flavor without sugar
When you blend fruit, the natural sugars are released and become ‘free sugars’. When combined with sweetened yogurts, juice, sweetened soy milk or almond milk it is far too much sugar and can lead to a large blood glucose spike.
While many foods have added sugars in them, a lot have hidden sugars.
If you want to add flavor to your smoothie, consider opting for:
- spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger
- fresh herbs such as mint
- fruit such as a large banana that contains natural sugars as well as soluble fiber
- vanilla extract
- nut butter
- unsweetened cocoa powder
Low GI fruit and vegetables
The glycemic index measures how quickly a food item will cause a blood sugar spike.
A food that scores low on the index means that the body will absorb the sugar slower than a food with a higher score. This means that foods with a low glycemic index are less likely to cause blood sugar to spike.
Fruits and vegetables have different GI scores, some low GI examples are:
It’s worth remembering that just because a fruit or vegetable scores low on the GI scale, it doesn’t mean you can add as much as you like to your smoothies – you still need to check the amount of net carbohydrates in it, especially if you are a diabetic.
How often can I drink smoothies?
Many people choose to drink smoothies as a healthy snack or as their breakfast and while they are a great way to get plenty of fruit and vegetables into your system, they should always form part of a balanced and nutritious diet.
There is no problem with drinking a smoothie regularly, but we would recommend always making them yourself and filling them with plenty of proteins, fats, carbs, as well as low sugar fruits and vegetables too.
I always encourage my clients to start their day The #FUNKY5 way!!
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