The Secret to a Filling Smoothie

Try adding these fruits, veggies, and other satiating ingredients to your blender.

green superfood smoothie

Updated on December 7, 2022.

Smoothies have a reputation for being health food, but many of them aren't as virtuous as you might think. Sure, a fruit and veggie-filled drink may seem like a good alternative to a carb-heavy bagel or a sugary muffin. But if you're overloading your blender, even with healthy ingredients, you could be consuming more calories than you realize.

Follow these tips to help limit your smoothie’s calories while still feeling fuller, longer.

Laying a lower-calorie base

Start with produce that will add substance and nutrients without a lot of extra sugar and calories. Leafy greens like spinach and kale are smart picks. High in fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin A, they typically range between 5 and 40 calories per cup. 

Be choosy with your fruits, as some contain more sugar and calories than others. Strawberries and blueberries are good options, but limit yourself to 1 cup. As a rule of thumb, don’t blend more fruit than you’d be able to eat whole. One cup of blueberries contains 84 calories, while the same quantity of strawberries has about 50 calories.

To save money and ensure a thick and frosty smoothie every time, shop the frozen food aisle. Frozen berries offer the same nutrients as their fresh-picked counterparts, but cost less. Just be sure to reach for 100 percent fruit with no added sugars. Buying in-season fruits and veggies (rather than those imported from faraway climates) is another way to save at the grocery store.

Choosing filling add-ins

Fruits and veggies are great, but why stop there? These blend-ins can fill you up and add an extra layer of flavor and texture.

Chia seeds: Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of this poppy seed look-alike into your smoothie for a boost of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. This adds about 65 calories, but you’ll also get almost 20 percent of the recommended daily intake of fiber, which can help you feel full and help prevent overeating later. Fiber promotes heart health and digestive well-being, and some research suggests upping your intake could help you drop pounds.     

Protein powder: A single scoop of whey, pea, or soy protein powder carries about 100 calories and over 20 grams of protein. Adding it to your breakfast smoothie may help satisfy your hunger throughout the morning—and then some. One 2013 study of obese and overweight teenage girls in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a protein-rich morning meal satisfied hunger and helped improve eating choices for the rest of the day. 

Your protein requirements increase as you age, so this little boost in the morning can help ensure you’re getting what you need. Since many protein powders are available, do a little research beforehand so you know what to look for.

Avocado: Don’t be scared off by the fat content of avocados. Moderate consumption of healthy fats is an important part of a healthy diet and some studies suggest they can even be part of a weight-loss regimen. 

One-fifth of an avocado contains about 50 calories, along with 10 percent of the recommended daily intake of fiber, plus good-for-you monounsaturated fats. Combine with frozen berries, a handful of greens, a splash of plant-based or low-fat milk and a couple of ice cubes for a refreshing smoothie.

Article sources open article sources

American Heart Association. Fresh, Frozen or Canned Fruits and Vegetables: All Can Be Healthy Choices!
MedlinePlus. Healthy food trend – chia seeds.
Ma Y, Olendzki BC, et al. Single-Component Versus Multicomponent Dietary Goals for the Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized Trial. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2015;162:248–257.
Leidy HJ, Ortinau LC, et al. Beneficial effects of a higher-protein breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation in overweight/obese, "breakfast-skipping," late-adolescent girls. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2013 Apr;97(4):677-88.
Mayo Clinic. Whey Protein: Overview.
Dreher ML, Davenport AJ. Hass avocado composition and potential health effects. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2013; 53(7), 738–750. What It Takes to Lose Weight.
Sara La Jeunesse. Monounsaturated fats reduce metabolic syndrome risk. Penn State News. March 29, 2013.
Bob’s Red Mill Chia Seeds. Nutrition Information. Accessed February 22, 2022.
Nancy Ferrari. Making one change — getting more fiber — can help with weight loss. Harvard Health Publishing. February 17, 2015.
USDA FoodData Central. Avocados, raw, California. April 1, 2019.

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