Making a low GI smoothie isn’t always easy. Fruit is a key ingredient in most healthy smoothies but some types can have a high glycemic index. Despite being natural and nutritious, this can cause an unwanted spike in blood sugar.
In this article – guest author, Xanthé Steer, explains how to create delicious low glycemic smoothies without the sugar spike!
We all know that smoothies offer a nutritious and delicious meal or snack. They’re packed with vitamins and essential nutrients served in one convenient punch.
However, some people may shy away from smoothies, arguing that their high sugar content and speedy breakdown within the body could counteract some of their benefits. I’m here to tell you, you need not compromise!
Being conscious of the glycemic index (GI) and your body’s subsequent insulin response to different foods certainly has its merits. But if you follow these tips you can keep making your favourite smoothies without hitting the high GI range.
What is the Glycemic Index?
The glycemic index is a rating system that provides an indication of the change in our body’s blood glucose in response to eating different foods. It is scored by a number out of 100 with a low GI food falling below 55 and a high GI above 70. Anything in between has a mid GI.
This rating tells us how quickly food is absorbed by our body. This is important since slow absorption of food and minimal blood sugar spikes have been associated with improved glycemic control, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes or heart disease, and better weight control.
Here are seven practical tips for creating a healthy and nutritious low GI smoothie…
- Know your low GI fruit
- Add some fat
- Or protein
- Fibre is key
- Sweeten with care
- Jack the juice
- Time it right
Now let’s look at each of these tips in more detail…
#1 – Know your low GI fruit
Citrus fruits and berries tend to be known as the lower GI fruit. Cherries, pears and apples are all good options, as well as peaches, plums, and apricots.
Low GI Smoothie Recipe: 3-Ingredient Apple, Berry & Celery Smoothie
Keep in mind that blending the fruit will naturally increase the body’s insulin response but sticking with lower GI fruit, in general, will still help to keep it at reasonable levels.
#2 – Add some fat
Adding healthy fats to a smoothie can influence your body’s insulin response to it, whilst also providing those essential polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega 3.
Nuts and seeds like chia seeds, flaxseed meal, and cashew nuts are great for adding fibre and texture to your smoothie. This will also mean it helps keep you fuller for longer. Similarly, avocados are a great source of healthy fats that will give a creamy texture to your smoothie.
Low GI Smoothie Idea: Easy Pear & Avocado Smoothie
#3 – Or protein
In a similar way, protein can also slow down the absorption of your smoothie reducing the insulin response following consumption. Try adding your favourite protein powder or some greek yogurt which will also help thicken your nourishing drink.
You might also like… 5 Best Dairy-Free Protein Powders For Smoothies
#4 – Fibre is key
Fibre helps to reduce the blood sugar spikes your body has in response to certain foods. It also keeps you feeling full for longer.
Fruit is generally high in fibre as well as nuts and seeds, but kale and spinach are also excellent choices for low sugar, high fibre additions to your delicious drink!
Low GI Smoothie Recipe: Easy Pear, Cucumber & Spinach Green Smoothie
#5 – If you must sweeten
You might be concerned that without adding your usual banana or higher sugar fruits to your mix that you’ll be missing out on the sweetness that makes it so enjoyable. Fear not!
Dates are an excellent way to add sweetness to your smoothie and are considered low on the GI index, so I would opt for these over honey if you’re undecided. Similarly, agave syrup is known for its low GI making it another popular alternative.
#6 – Jack the juice
Although juice doesn’t necessarily have a high GI, its contribution will likely increase our body’s insulin response. I would recommend substituting it with almond milk which is known for having a low GI of 25. This will keep your smoothie creamy whilst providing lower sugar content – win-win!
You might also like… How To Make An Almond Milk Smoothie
#7 – Time it right
Finally, another way to reduce insulin spikes from a meal is to think about meal timing. Most people drink their smoothies with breakfast in the morning. This is preferable as our blood sugar levels will be lower than usual from our overnight fast.
Another time that is great to drink them is following a workout. This uses available glucose in the blood causing blood sugar levels to fall. On the other hand, drinking your smoothie as a sweet treat after a meal may cause your accumulated blood sugar to rise higher than it would otherwise.
By Guest Author – Xanthé Steer
Xanthe is a keen writer, freelancing in London with a background in digital content and SEO marketing. She mainly writes about health and travel focusing her skills primarily on content marketing and SEO writing. Degree qualified in both Human Nutrition and Psychology, she loves to research facts behind health trends and simplify science for her readers. You can contact her through Instagram or LinkedIn.