Smoothie Debate: Drink or Chew?

We are definitely in information overload these days.  One of the biggest complaints we hear from clients is “There is so much conflicting information out there – I don’t know what is true!”  We hear you.  We too get frustrated from all the info bombarding us from every angle.

What we do as nutritionists is dive into the science, look at what has worked for our clients over the years and also go with our “guts.”

So let’s take last week as an example, where one morning show had a segment on smoothies and whether or not they were a good choice for breakfast. Specifically, they were looking  too see whether there was a difference in satisfaction based on whether participants DRANK the ingredients in the smoothie or ATE them separately, without blending.

As an interesting experiment, not only did they ask participants how they felt throughout the morning (IE: hunger levels, cravings), but they actually they compared blood sugar responses to drinkers vs eaters.

Results? Smoothie drinkers experienced higher blood sugar responses followed by a crash, leaving them very hungry soon after. Participants who ATE vs drank the ingredients had a modest blood sugar rise, no crash, and were not hungry until lunchtime.

We decided to break this down into two issues. One is the drinking vs eating. The other has to do with the actual smoothie ingredients.

We found it interesting, and not too surprising, that the smoothie in drinkable form did not hold participants as long as eating the actual ingredients. Generally, when we are allowed to chew our food, it takes longer to eat and since the food is not already broken down, longer to digest and absorb. This keeps our hunger at bay for a longer period of time.

HOWEVER, we feel the case was unfairly made against smoothies, and here’s why.

The ingredients used in the experiment included the following:

  • 5 oz mango
  • 5 oz pineapple
  • 2 oz banana
  • 3 oz yogurt (less than 1/2 cup)
  • 6 oz apple juice

Can you guess what is wrong with the picture here? The ingredients are full of carbs (fruit and fruit sugar) with no balance of protein OR healthy fat to slow down the blood sugar response. Alternatively, a well-balanced smoothie, containing the right mix or protein, fat and carbs, will definitely hold people much longer and not create blood sugar spikes and crashes.

Final verdict? Smoothies can be a fabulous way to get nutrients into your body and pack in great quality ingredients all in one drink. If using as a meal replacement, be sure to include good quality fat (avocado, coconut oil or flakes, almond or cashew butter) and protein (hemp seeds, quality protein powder) to keep you humming all morning or afternoon.

Want to try one on for size? Check out one of our blood sugar balancing smoothie recipes right HERE.

Need more breakfast ideas? Want to jumpstart your morning and have energy all day? Check out our FREE Breakfast Boot Camp! Starts Monday but registration is open and recipes are already available. Details HERE.

stephanie goodman and jane schwartz


Jane and Stephanie, creators of The Simply Nourished Solution™, are nutritionists who help women over 50 go from overweight, frustrated, and inflamed to lighter and healthier so they can be more active, feel good in their bodies, and live the second half of life with energy and confidence. Their 3-pronged approach, which can fit into any lifestyle, encompasses not only wholesome energizing foods but powerful habit and mindset shifts.


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