Weekday mornings are usually a mad dash out of the house and I often don’t allow myself enough time for breakfast. This is where a smoothie makes the perfect breakfast. Real food is always better, but a smoothie is a convenient way to get in a high-protein meal on-the-go. They’re also an opportunity to help reach the recommended 5 servings of vegetables per day.
I remember when I would overcomplicate a smoothie. "Fruit or no fruit? Half a banana or a whole one? Vegan or whey protein powder? Almond butter or peanut butter? Water or almond milk, or wait, maybe coconut water? How much ice?" I’d line up a dozen ingredients on the counter because more is always better. Sometimes I’d really nail it, perfect consistency and I’d be full all morning. But other mornings I’d find myself hungry an hour later.
My Five Favorite Times to Enjoy the perfect Smoothie
Breakfast – great way to get nutrients and jumpstart your energy first thing especially if the alternative is skipping breakfast
While Traveling – When I know I won’t have access to quality food I bring protein powder in a resealable plastic bag with the scooper so I have a healthy meal for breakfast or on the road
Afternoon Pick-Me-Up – As a personal trainer, eating chicken, green beans and rice any time of day whether it’s 8am or 3pm is perfectly normal to my co-workers. But when I worked a desk job, eating another meal after lunch would have been really weird and I usually didn’t have time. It is funny how no one would ever give someone with chips or cookies at 3pm a hard time (I’m also guilty of this). Regardless, most of us don’t eat anything between lunch and dinner, meaning we starve our body of nutrients for up to 9 hours and often overeat at dinner. A smoothie between 3pm and 4pm is great for getting in nutrients and preventing us from being starving by dinner.
If I’m Going Out Later – Before going out to a great restaurant, I'll sometimes swap a meal for a protein shake like the one below. There are a couple reasons I do this.
A) It helps control my daily caloric intake, which is the biggest factor for weight management and allows me some flexibility at the restaurant.
B) I enjoy a special dinner at a restaurant more if I haven’t already eaten a bunch of meals. On a normal day I eat 4 meals with lean proteins, vegetables, healthy fats and some complex carbs. If I’m going out to dinner, I’ll have at least one regular meal and then a shake beforehand. If you want to see what a full week of workouts and meals looks like, sign-up for my FREE 5 day program which includes workout routines, a structured meal plan and simple recipes.
C) To avoid being starving when I sit down at the restaurant. In the past I used to skip meals to save calories, all this did was set me up to overeat at dinner. I’d order a glass of wine, dig in the table bread and heavy appetizers, eat my entire entrée and sometimes even order dessert. If I have a shake an hour or two before dinner, my blood sugar is balanced, and I can order in line with my goals and eat more slowly.
Stop Cravings – Protein supplements help us reach our daily protein requirement which for an active woman is around 75g. This helps balance blood sugar levels and prevent cravings. I also have a sweet tooth, so a chocolate shake in the afternoon is sometimes just what I need.
Here is exactly how I go about making a smoothie as a meal replacement. Go ahead and save this guide until it becomes second nature for you. As a kid one of my favorite treats was Dairy Queen's Chocolate Cherry Blizzard. If you have a sweet tooth anything like mine, you will love the Chocolate Cherry Smoothie recipe below.
How to Make the Perfect Smoothie
Chocolate Cherry Smoothie
- 1 handful spinach
- ½ C frozen cherries
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 1 Tbs almond butter
- 1 tsp raw cacao powder
- 1 tsp cacao nibs
- 1/2 cup ice
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
Smoothie Hacks & Other Tips
- Do-Ahead Smoothie: Make smoothie packs when meal prepping for the week, store in the freezer so it's ready to add to the blender with liquid
- Smoothie delivery services like Daily Harvest help make mornings easier. Just check the nutrition label and be sure it has enough protein and some healthy fat to keep you energized all morning. I usually add a scoop of protein so I don't have a sugar crash.
- Note that if you have a post-workout shake with just protein powder and water (only 100-150 calories) you should have a full meal 1 to 2 hours later.