An unhealthy smoothie kind of sounds like an impossible contradiction, right? Sure a fruit-filled, nutritious smoothie is always good for you?
But like most things in the world of nutrition, it’s a nuanced area. Not every smoothie is a healthy one, regardless of whether you bought it pre-made or blended it from scratch.
In this article – we share 7 common mistakes that can make your smoothie unhealthy and diminish its nutritional benefits (without you even realising).
- Drinking the same smoothie every day
- Adding sugar
- Only using fruit
- Pairing competing ingredients
- Buying pre-made smoothies
- Decadent smoothies
- Nut butter (in certain situations)
#1 – Drinking exactly the same smoothie. Every, single, day.
Many people find a smoothie recipe they like and then stick with it religiously. Sometimes it’s habit, other times it’s to save money.
But too much of anything is never a good thing, even a seemingly harmless thing like a green smoothie!
Repeatedly eating or drinking the same thing can mean we miss out on key nutrients. We don’t get a varied intake of vitamins and minerals, which can lead to unhealthy deficiencies.
It can also cause an unexpected build up of some nutrients. Too much of some vitamins, minerals or supplements can be toxic (you’d need to have a lot though).
So, rotating your ingredients (e.g. swapping between kale, spinach and collards) is a good way to vary your intake of different nutrients.
The key is to include a varied range of coloured produce – yellow, orange, green, red, purple.
This is a good rule of thumb to ensure you’re also getting varied nutrients. If you’re worried about cost, try alternating between just two or three smoothie recipes every week.
This is a really good tactic when using more costly ingredients like berries or spinach. It also helps minimise wastage.
#2 – Adding sugar
A quick online search of smoothies will unearth a host of 5* rated recipes with mouth-watering photography. But it’s surprising just how many of these supposedly healthy smoothies include directions to ‘add 1 tablespoon of sugar to the blender’.
That’s crazy… and a fast track to weight gain…
If you like your smoothies on the sweet side, then buy fruits that are in season. This is when they’re at their juicy sweetest.
This handy cheat sheet on smoothie ingredient seasons can help you pinpoint which ingredients are at their best right now.
There are lots of healthy ways to sweeten your smoothie, but adding sugar isn’t one of them.
You might also like… 3-ingredient apple smoothie recipe (low in sugar – high in flavour).
#3 – Only using fruit
Veggies are our friends too! They ensure we get a varied intake of vitamins and minerals, which help the body run at max efficiency so we look and feel full of energy.
Vegetables typically contain less sugar than fruit too, which makes them ideal for weight loss smoothies.
Don’t get us wrong, fruit is super-healthy and packed with nutrients. But too much of any sugar (natural or not) can be unhealthy.
We often gravitate towards fruit as the tastier option, but veg can offer equally delicious combos. Carrots, beetroot, cucumber, and spinach, all make delicious smoothies.
You might also like… 3-ingredient carrot, apple & ginger smoothie recipe.
#4 Pairing competing ingredients
Experimenting with different smoothie ingredients is fun. But some combinations just aren’t meant to be…
It’s not just the taste and texture that can suffer when we get ingredient combos wrong. It can have huge effects on the nutritional value too.
For instance, did you know that the proteins in dairy milk can block the antioxidants in blueberries? So, by blending them together in a smoothie, the health benefits might reduce dramatically.
In this case, your smoothie might be healthier if you blended the berries with fruit juice or water. These are better liquid alternatives since they don’t decrease the nutritional value of the blueberries.
All that said, we still think kitchen experiments are awesome! So throughout this website we arm you with variations to make your own exotic twists on classic smoothies.
#5 – Buying pre-made smoothies
The smoothie industry is booming and there are more brands than ever jumping on the bandwagon.
Pre-made smoothies are typically touted as a healthy alternative to soda, which sometimes they can be. Unfortunately, they often contain high amounts of added sugar, flavourings and preservatives.
Not every pre-packaged smoothie is ‘bad’. We just need to avoid automatically assuming that they’re all healthy.
If you’re interested in whether your smoothie is healthy or unhealthy, then read the label. That will tell you how many calories, sugar, fats, and fake ingredients it contains (or doesn’t).
But if you’re just buying a smoothie because you like the taste, then go for it! Not every decision needs to be a healthy one and there definitely shouldn’t be any guilt involved. Life’s too short not to enjoy what we consume.
Making fresh smoothies at home will ensure you know exactly what’s going into it. If you prefer the convenience of shop-bought, then check the labels carefully to ensure you’re not inadvertently consuming unhealthy ingredients that you’re not aware of.
You might also like… 10 delicious Thermomix smoothie recipes.
#6 – Decadent smoothies
There’s a growing trend towards dessert smoothies loaded with cream, chocolate, marshmallows – the works. All these treats on top are probably a dead giveaway that these are unhealthy smoothies.
So why are we even mentioning it on the list?
Well, some people assume that all smoothies are healthy ones. If there’s fruit blended in there somewhere then it must be kinda healthy, right?
Sorry, but it’s a hard no in this case. Enjoy them for what they are – delicious, decadent desserts. But don’t confuse them with being a healthier option.
#7 – Nut butter (if you’re counting calories)
Nut butter is a common ingredient in smoothies and delicious one at that. It can add protein, texture, and make your recipe taste incredible.
But nut butters are energy dense, which means they’re full of calories. If you’re consuming smoothies to lose weight, then adding nut butter might have the opposite effect.
A small amount of nut butter can contain hundreds of calories. It’s deceptively sneaky in this way. Surely one tablespoon isn’t that bad, right?
Unfortunately, nut butters cram lots of calories into a tiny volume. So, you won’t feel like you’ve had that much (or feel particularly full after) but you’ll have consumed a LOT of calories.
If weight loss is your goal and you’re counting the kcals, it’s best to give nut butters a swerve (sorry).
So, there now you know exactly how to spot an unhealthy smoothie and the most common mistakes to avoid. We hope you find this helpful – as ever, please get in touch if you have any questions at all :)
Nutrition Info You Can Trust
Our in-house associate nutritionist holds a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition, a bachelor’s degree in Sports Science and English, and a Diploma in Personal Training. She has over 15 years of experience in the health and fitness industry, working with leading health clubs, supplement companies, and one-to-one clients.