Smoothies are ideal for people on-the-go — but while they're super-convenient and delicious, they can also be more like a sugar bomb than a healthy snack, depending on the ingredients you choose. Even worse, a smoothie that's heavy on fruit and sweeteners can leave you feeling hungry again in no time. To give your smoothie some staying power, it's important to add some healthy fats, protein, and fiber to the mix. That doesn't mean you need to throw a chicken breast in your blender. Instead, try these delicious and nourishing foods to make even the most basic smoothie more filling.
1. Proteins From Milk
Your body needs 20 amino acids to be strong from the inside. Nine amino acids are classified as "essential," because they can't be made by the human body and must come from your diet. Proteins from milk — think: casein and whey — deliver all the essential amino acids your body needs, along with a boost of important nutrients like calcium and magnesium.
Specifically, whey protein may reduce short- and long-term appetite and, in women in particular, improve body composition by increasing lean mass without influencing changes in body fat. Consuming more than 500 ml of dairy products containing casein and whey can increase satiety, according to the results of a meta-analysis. So, whether you're adding a helping of casein or whey protein powder, a splash of milk, or a scoop of Greek yogurt to your blender, including these specific proteins in your recipe can help you feel fuller longer.
2. California Raisins
Smoothies need a touch of sweetness, no doubt. Instead of choosing sugar or syrups like agave, reach for real fruit like California raisins. They'll provide the same satisfying taste — with no added sugars — while also delivering fiber (7 percent of the daily value per serving) and potassium (6 percent of the daily value per serving). Because fiber can help you feel fuller longer, adding raisins to your smoothie may help you avoid hunger pangs an hour after you drink it.
Pulses are technically the dry, edible seeds of legumes, a category that includes chickpeas, lentils, beans, and split peas. They're loaded with antioxidants, fiber, and plant-based protein, and they blend surprisingly well in smoothies. Research shows that eating pulses can support weight management goals, even when diets are not intended to be calorically restricted. Studies also suggest that pulse consumption may reduce body fat percentage.
From lentils to chickpeas, pulses are a low-cost and slightly sweet addition to smoothies that blends well with most fruits. Because lentils don't add a ton of flavor to the recipe, make sure to compensate with some tasty fruit, like the California raisins mentioned previously. Just make sure that whichever pulse you're using is already cooked. (No one wants a crunchy smoothie!)
4. Peanut Butter
Level up your smoothie by adding a spoonful of peanut butter for a natural helping of plant-based protein, fiber, healthy fat, and vitamins and minerals that are key to a healthy metabolism. In fact, results from one study suggest that there is an increase in resting energy expenditure after eating peanuts, even if physical activity does not increase. Play with the classic flavor combo of peanut butter, bananas, and honey for a filling smoothie that hits the spot. Feel free to add extra goodies like spinach or berries depending on what your body is craving.