Smoothies are often loaded with healthy foods – fruits, vegetables, milk, juices. But loaded with healthy foods doesn’t always mean “healthy” – one smoothie I found had 118 grams of carbohydrate and another 1,000 calories. See how to avoid making those mistakes.
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Welcome back to DiabetesEveryDay, I’m Toby Smithson, here to share credible information about diabetes management. Be sure to subscribe to my channel by pressing the red button and please sign up for my monthly newsletter via my DiabetesEveryDay website.
There seems to be a continued beverage trend here in the US about drinking smoothies. For most smoothies, they are fruit based so it appears to have an important food group that is packed with nutrients. Typically a smoothie will contain some liquid- fruit juice, milk, plant based milk, water or maybe iced coffee And the smoothie may have yogurt or avocado or a nut butter to add creaminess, there could be some 0 cal, 0 carb flavorings added like spices and then the main ingredient of fruits and or vegetables along with some type of sweetener. So…are these smoothies a good choice for people with diabetes?
As a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified diabetes care and education specialist AND a person with diabetes, this is what starts rolling around in my head when I hear about smoothies.
Smoothies and shakes can add more carbohydrate and total calories so may not be effective for weight management. That’s point one, is the smoothie I’m drinking too high in calories or carbs for me?
Point 2: I want to know what the ingredients are in the smoothie. Check the ingredients in your smoothie recipe or if you are buying a smoothie at a restaurant, check to see if they have the nutrition information already calculated in both these scenarios. Is the smoothie made with just fruit or are there other ingredients? And if there are other ingredients, will those ingredients have an affect on your blood sugar, whether to help slow down the blood sugar rise or give your blood sugar a spike.
I did a quick check at a restaurant that serves smoothies, and they range from 410 to 780 calories and 43-131 grams carb per serving. I found a restaurant that will use a low- calorie sweetener option which brought down the calories to 190 to 680 and 43 grams to 101 grams of carb per serving. So this can give us a quick glimpse at the calories and carbs we are getting from a smoothie. Where you surprised or is that level of calories and carbs what you anticipated? Please understand that yes, fruit is a great food, but adding several fruits to a beverage won’t make it a healthier beverage for your blood sugar results.
Ok now to Point 3: When are you drinking this smoothie? Is it for breakfast? As a snack? Before bed? Be aware that this could simply be a healthy halo. I’m glad you are eating more fruit, but the combination of ingredients could make a difference on your blood sugar results. If your smoothie is just fruit, a low- calorie sweetener and maybe some water, your blood sugar may see a rise compared to a smoothie that contains a source of protein. There was a small study showing that whey protein could have a glucose lowering effect but it was a small study and the positive results were shown in those who were lower in body weight, had in target triglyceride levels and lower GLP-1 (which is an amino acid peptide) concentrations in their blood. The whey protein stimulated insulin secretions in people with type 2 diabetes which would offer a lower blood glucose level.
As you have heard me say before, portion size matters and balancing out your carbs throughout the day is an important strategy to blood sugar management. Remember you can do your own research on how your blood sugar is affected by what you eat. Check your blood sugar before the smoothie and 2 hours after drinking the smoothie. If you are having the smoothie as a bedtime snack, check before the smoothie and before breakfast the next morning. Does your blood sugar stay steady? Is your blood sugar remaining in target range of under 180 one to two hours after the smoothie?
Thanks for watching, until next time, cheers to your health.