It seems like smoothies are everywhere. You can buy them at the mall, at Starbucks and the gym. And now, smoothie bowls are also becoming very popular. You can’t get on Instagram without seeing at least one delicious looking bowl. But are smoothies really that good for you? They look great and can often taste very good, but smoothies can be a source of hidden calories that can sabotage your weight loss goals. Let’s take a closer look at whether or not smoothies can help you lose weight.

Smoothie Basics

Most people think of smoothies as a healthy treat. However, smoothies are often sugar bombs masquerading as a health food. Many professionally made smoothies have juice, sweetened yogurt, sweetened nut milks, and added sweeteners to make them taste better. They are also usually full of sugar-rich fruits like bananas and apples. Add all that together and you can get most of your calories for the day in a single smoothie, while blowing your carbohydrate and sugar count out of the water.

The best way to use smoothies in a weight loss diet is to make them yourself. You can control the ingredients and measure each one to ensure you are getting the exact number of calories you want. You can also add in nutritional boosting ingredients for much cheaper! Here are a few ways to make your smoothies weight-loss friendly.

Ration the Fruit

The number one mistake people make with smoothies is using too much fruit. While fruit is good for you, eating too much of it will give you way too many sugar and carbs. That banana may sound good, but you don’t need the entire fruit to make a smoothie. Cut it in half or in thirds and throw the rest of it in the freezer for later. You can also use berries or half an apple to sweeten your smoothie. They have way less sugar and more fiber than a banana.

Add in Protein

Always use a high-quality protein powder. Check your ingredients to make sure there aren’t any unnecessary sweeteners or unhealthy additions. Depending on your preference, you can use whey protein or a plant-based protein powder. You can use unflavored protein powder or try chocolate or vanilla flavors to give your smoothie a sweeter taste. Adding in a nut butter or milk can add in protein, but watch the calorie count and always use the unsweetened kind.

Use Lots of Greens

Smoothies do not have to be sweet! You can make a smoothie with lots of greens and veggies for a low sugar, low-calorie drink. Spinach or kale are great choices because they are full of fiber and other vitamins and minerals. You can also use celery, cucumbers and even avocado. (Avocado is technically a fruit, but since they aren’t sweet, we won’t count them as a fruit this time!) If you prefer a sweeter drink, then you can still use plenty of greens. Just make sure to add in the same amount of fruit as greens to help mask their taste.

Add in Seeds

Adding in hemp or chia seeds will give your smoothie an important health boost. Both chia and hemp seeds are great sources of protein and contain lots of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients. Chia seeds do expand in water, so be prepared for a thicker consistency. Hemp seeds should blend more easily but you will need to blend them really well in order to lose the crunchy texture.

Smoothie Bowls

Smoothie bowls are tempting because of the beautiful acai base. While acai berries are great for you, they are also very bitter, which means acai bases usually have added sugar. So, always make sure you check the sugar content before you dive into a smoothie bowl. They are great for occasional treats, but if you want to eat them regularly, make sure you measure your ingredients so that you are eating the healthiest bowl possible. If you add in too much fruit, then you are basically eating a candy bar and will stall your weight loss.

Smoothies can be a part of a healthy diet and help you lose weight, but you must pay attention to their calories and nutritional information. If you are buying a smoothie, always look for ones that do not contain juices or other sweetened ingredients. If you are making your own smoothie, be sure to add in healthy boosters like seeds and protein powder. Smoothies can also be a great way to get greens into your diet, so always make sure to add in veggies. Try to save your smoothies for after a workout or for breakfast. They can be a delicious way to keep hunger at bay and help you reach your weight loss goals. Happy blending!