Shakes and smoothies have become synonymous with weight loss, but there’s a fine line between detox and dessert. Nutritionist Lucinda Zammit helps us uncover 5 liquid meal myths.
1. Liquid meals contain fewer calories than solid food
It’s surprisingly easy to ‘overeat’ when you’re liquefying your food. While you’d struggle to scarf six bananas, the same quantity of fruit blends to a deceptively small smoothie. Rather than throwing ingredients in a blender ad libitum, measure ingredients beforehand in accordance with what you’d reasonably eat if you sat down to a solid meal. Tip: mix you choice of milk 50:50 with some chilled water, you won’t taste the difference but it will help with your calorie intake.
2. They are better for you
The health credentials of liquid meals ranges from uber-healthy to little better than a burger. Without added flavour, wholefood smoothies can be bland, so they often get a kick along from additives such as honey or nut butter. While a small amount is fine, a liberal serve can turn a healthy liquid meal into a glorified thickshake.
3. They keep you fuller for longer
Satiety is primarily determined by a meal’s effect on both blood sugar and gastric emptying. Generally, protein is the most satiating macronutrient while fat slows gastric emptying, prolonging satiety. Fibre slows glucose release into the bloodstream, averting the sudden hunger that occurs when insulin sweeps sugar from the bloodstream after a high-GI hit. Tick these boxes, and a liquid meal can be just as filling as a solid meal. Conversely, a drink devoid of protein and fibre and fat can leave you as hungry as you were despite having consumed the calorie equivalent of a full breakfast. Try nut butter, an egg or some good quality protein powder. For savoury liquid meals, steamed and cooled shredded chicken or beef and steamed and cooled sweet potato or pumpkin can serve as protein and fibre sources.
4. You need to use fruit
While fruit is the go-to wholefood for blended meals, vegies are worthy contenders – even for sweet smoothies. Using a blender ensures that vegies’ nutrients are kept intact – unlike with juicing. Smoothie-friendly vegies include spinach, kale, cos lettuce and watercress. Superfood powders such as spirulina, maca powder or a greens powder are another way to add nutrients to a liquid meal.
5. You need to eat food
Just because it’s in liquid form doesn’t mean a meal can’t be balanced. If you don’t have time to sit down for breakfast, throw the ingredients you’d usually serve in a bowl in the blender – think raw oats (carbs), milk (calcium and protein), berries (antioxidants) and cinnamon. For protein, you can add yoghurt and protein powder. Tip: Blend brekkie the night before, place in a jar or bottle with a secure lid and leave in the fridge. In the morning, shake and drink. You can even add a teaspoon of coffee.