Few foods beat the convenience and nutrition of a delicious smoothie. These raw fruit-and-veggie blends are not only versatile, but they pack a serious nutritional punch for an on-the-go breakfast or after-workout snack.
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However, smoothies can be deceptively filled with hidden sugar and calories, sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
This is where our five skinny ingredients for your next smoothie come in. Reduce hunger and ignite your metabolism with an ice-based smoothie that’s chockfull of vegetables (like kale), low on sugar and filled with some of these seriously flavourful yet low-calorie ingredients.
While fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and flavour, whey is full of amino acids, which can assist in weight loss. Studies show that amino acids can help tone muscle, reduce appetite and even increase your metabolism; some research has even suggested that consuming whey protein can result in a 60 per cent reduction in hunger cravings and up to 100 extra calories burnt each day. Taking advantage of whey protein can be as simple as adding half a scoop of whey to your favourite smoothie.
Green tea is an easy way to a jolt of energy and flavour to your smoothie without any of the added calories. Additionally, according to Kris Gunnars from Authority Nutrition, “Green tea contains bioactive substances like caffeine and EGCG, which can have powerful effects on metabolism.” Some studies suggest that consuming green tea can upwards of a 3 to 4 per cent increase in calories burnt each day. This means that if you normally burn 2,000 calories each day, this skinny ingredient can potentially help you burn an extra 60 to 80 calories. Not bad!
One of the ways your body regulates its metabolism and appetite is through a hormone known as leptin. Low levels of leptin send hunger signals to the brain, while an increase in leptin reduces hunger pangs. In a 2014 study published in the Journal of the Science and Food of Agriculture, researchers discovered that gingerol (the active ingredient found in fresh ginger) helps to improve leptin levels, reducing hunger and boosting body’s metabolism. Ginger has a strong, distinct taste, so enjoy this ingredient in a wake-me-up, morning smoothie the features complementary flavours, such as in this green apple ginger smoothie.
Cinnamon has been used by herbalists for centuries; according to one ancient Roman scholar, 100 grams of this rich spice was once equal to 1.4kg of silver! (Luckily for us, cinnamon is much easier, and cheaper, to come by these days.) This aromatic spice can help suppress your appetite and promote the burning of fat around the belly. Experts attribute some of these effects to the way cinnamon slows down the release of sugar into the body, reducing food cravings that are often associated with a sharp rise in blood sugar. This makes cinnamon a great addition to any smoothie, adding tons of flavour while assisting with your appetite.
Chia seeds are a superfood, rich in fiber and protein. Chia seeds are also tasteless, high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids (good fat) and act as a thickening agent, reducing the amount of cottage cheese, yogurt or fruit filling that is required to bulk up your smoothie.