Smoothie bowls have grown in popularity among Americans who are seeking a healthier lifestyle. These trendy food items are available in a variety of colors and flavors, which adds to the attraction. Companies such as Jamba Juice provide an array of smoothie bowls to choose from, such as the Almond Butter Acai Bowl and the Acai Primo Bowl. While these items appear healthy, they often contain more calories and higher sugar content than a glazed donut.
When you consume a smoothie bowl, you are often eating more than the recommended daily serving of fruits, which leads to an increase in your insulin levels. Once this happens, you are prone to sugar crashes throughout the day and effectively derail the progress you are making with a healthier diet. To avoid these issues, learn how to make better smoothie bowls at home in lieu of purchasing the sugar packed products available in most trendy cafes.
Smoothie Bowls Have a High Sugar Content
The belief that smoothie bowls are healthy because they are made with a variety of fruits is a myth. When you eat a smoothie bowl, you are ingesting anywhere between 30 and 65 grams of sugar with each serving.
The American Heart Association (AHA) states that women consuming more than 25 grams of sugar per day and men consuming more than 37.5 grams of sugar per day are at an increased risk of developing health issues such as heart disease and obesity. This means when you have a smoothie bowl, you are consuming as much, if not more, sugar than is recommended for an entire day.
Related Article: Are you metabolically healthy?
While the natural sugar found in fruits is thought to be healthier than added sugars found in other products, you are still ingesting more than the recommended serving of sugar per day when you add one smoothie bowl into your diet. This leads to a spike in your insulin levels and may also cause you to develop acne.
In addition to the added sugar content, smoothie bowls often pack hundreds of calories and lack in general nutrition. For example, a Hella Good Greens smoothie bowl from Juice Generation contains approximately 490 calories, which is only about 50 calories less than a Bic Mac from McDonald’s. Additionally, many smoothie brands come with added sugars anyway, further negating their benefits.
Some of the ingredients found in smoothie bowls, such as “superfoods” and vegetables, do contribute to your overall health. However, those benefits may be outweighed by the calories and sugar content. Opting for smoothie bowls containing acai, spinach or plant protein is healthier than options that do not contain these items, though the number of superfoods and greens placed into the smoothie bowl is often negligible compared to other ingredients.
Smoothie Bowls Lack Essential Nutrients
Though the ingredients comprising a smoothie bowl are often seen as healthy, the finished product lacks the nutrients needed to satiate hunger and provide the body with essential energy throughout the day. Smoothie bowls typically lack a substantial source of protein, fiber and healthy fats. Since many people often use smoothies to replace meals, this can lead to an unbalanced diet.
People who forgo a balanced breakfast for a smoothie bowl are often lacking the nutrients needed to remain focused, energized and full and may suffer because of this seemingly innocent decision.
Smoothie bowls are generally composed of carbohydrates and sugars, meaning your body is going to burn off the contents of the bowl quickly. This leads to an increase in hunger as you are compensating for a lack of essential nutrients. When you grow hungry at random intervals throughout the day, you are more prone to snacking which can lead to further issues if you are not making health-conscious choices.
Additionally, people who think of smoothies as healthy may trick themselves into believing they are allowed to “cheat” during other meals. For example, if you had a smoothie early in the day, you may believe it is okay to have chips for a midday snack because you had a healthy smoothie bowl for breakfast. However, in this case, you are continuing to rob your body of vitamins and are adding in extra calories instead.
A healthy breakfast and a healthy diet in general are composed of a protein source, a carb source and a sugar source. This helps to stabilize your body and lowers your chances of becoming irritated or lethargic throughout the work day. If you want to stick with the trend of having smoothie bowls for breakfast, look for recipes to try at home instead of visiting Jamba Juice on your way to work in the morning or throughout the day.
How do I make healthier smoothie bowls?
Consuming healthier smoothie bowls is possible, but you may need to prepare the smoothie in your own home rather than going out to buy them. While you can customize the type of smoothie bowl you buy from a restaurant, you often end up adding toppings like added sugars and extra fruit, which may contribute to the problem instead of alleviating it.
To avoid this issue, use unsweetened plant-based milks to blend with your other smoothie ingredients, as this helps to cut down on the sugar content and reduces calories as well. Choose full-fat Greek yogurt instead of fat-free options, as you need the healthy fat content of yogurt to keep you satisfied and to provide you with more energy.
For added protein, select either a plant protein or an unflavored protein powder to mix into your smoothie bowls without adding extra sugar. When choosing items to add to the top of your smoothie bowl, keep your selections to a 1 tablespoon serving each and include healthier options like:
- Hemp seeds.
- Chia seeds.
- Unsweetened shredded coconut.
- Cacao nibs.
- Raw honey.
Avoid using store-bought granola or dried fruit as these tend to have more sugar. If you want to use granola or dried fruit for your smoothie bowls, learn how to prepare these items at home as this helps you control the amount of sugar in each product and reduce your sugar intake. If you want a thicker, creamier texture for your smoothie bowls, use riced cauliflower to achieve this goal without adding extra calories into the mix. Add vegetables to each smoothie bowl you make for extra nutrients and aim for a 2-to-1 one ratio of vegetables to fruits.
Related Article: How reliable are gluten-free labels?