10 Ingredients to Add to Your Smoothies for Weight Loss, According to RDs
You’ve supercharged your salads for weight loss. Check! Your oatmeal? Check! Now it's time to get savvy about your smoothies, adding nutritious stars to the mix that are both good for you and your waistline. “Smoothies are a convenient way to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-rich foods into your diet,” says Diana Gariglio-Clelland, Registered Dietitian on staff for Next Luxury. “They're easy to make, convenient and portable, and can be made in many combinations to tailor to individual dietary and taste preferences.” Here at The Beet, we’re so obsessed with smoothies’ versatility and tastiness, we even have a Smoothie of the Day program.
Below, nutritionists weigh in on the top weight-loss-friendly ingredients to add to your smoothies.
You might not think of adding this root to your smoothie, but we love the zingy flavor it imbues in our shakes. “Ginger is another beneficial ingredient that tastes amazing in smoothies and has weight loss benefits,” says Sarah Williams, MS, RD, a registered dietitian and weight loss expert who founded Sweet Balance. “A 2019 review analyzed the findings of 14 randomized controlled trials and found that intake of ginger resulted in significantly decreased bodyweight, lower fasting glucose, improvements in insulin resistance, and increased HDL (‘good cholesterol’).” Grate some into your blender next time you make this glowing green smoothie and meet your new favorite shake.
2. Plant-based Protein Powder
“When making smoothies, consider adding a scoop of vegan protein powder such as soy, brown rice, or pea protein,” says Mackenzie Burgess, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and recipe developer at Cheerful Choices. “Research shows that consuming around 25-30 grams of protein per meal helps increase satiety and fullness, which can be beneficial for weight loss.” Burgess’ go-to is one ingredient Naked Nutrition Pea Protein and you can check out our guide to the best vegan protein powders here.
3. Wheat Bran
This oft-overlooked ingredient, made of the outer layer of wheat kernels, may be well worth incorporating into your next waistline-friendly smoothie. “Wheat bran is a source of inositol, a substance that has been studied for its ability to help improve insulin resistance,” comments Gariglio-Clelland. “Insulin resistance can lead to fat storage and make weight loss difficult, which is why adding inositol-rich foods to smoothies may help with weight loss.”
Bianca Tamburello, RDN, Registered Dietitian on behalf of Swerve Sweetener notes that avocados lend a rich and creamy texture to your smoothie, in addition to being ideal for weight loss. “Avocados contain both fiber and unsaturated fats — two food components linked to feeling more full after a meal and slower gastric emptying,” she says, adding that a serving of the fruit is about ⅓ of a medium avocado.
5. Chia seeds
Williams calls chia seeds another great food to add to smoothies if you’re looking to drop some pounds. “One randomized controlled trial found that people who consumed chia seeds had decreased calorie intake and increased satiety compared to those who did not,” she says. “Another study linked chia seed intake with significantly greater weight loss and greater decreases in waist circumference.” Bonus: While these seeds boast stellar nutrition components like a hefty dose of fiber and omega-3 healthy fats to your smoothie, they barely make an impact on the flavor of your beverage.
This yellow spice deserves to be a healthy smoothie’s BFF. “Turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and may even boast weight loss benefits as well,” says Gariglio-Clelland. “A study found that curcumin (turmeric) reduced body mass index, waist circumference, and hip circumference in test subjects,” she continues, adding that turmeric powder is especially convenient for smoothies.
Oats in your smoothie, who knew? Tamburello is all for adding a ½-cup of dry oats to your smoothie or smoothie bowl for added satiety, fiber, and a thicker texture. “I promise the oats blend up very well!” she says. “One of the challenges in losing weight is eating just enough calories to promote weight loss while also staying full enough to hold you over to your next meal or snack. A small 2015 study of 36 participants showed that those who ate oatmeal for breakfast had greater satiety (stayed full for longer) and ate less at lunch.”
8. Hemp Seed Hearts
Also called hemp hearts or hemp seeds, it’s time to slip some into your next smoothie, friends. “[These] are an excellent source of plant protein that can be added to smoothies to make them more satisfying. Hemp seed hearts have about 10 grams of protein in three tablespoons,” says Williams. “Getting enough protein is key for long-term weight loss. Hemp seed hearts are an easy way to increase your protein intake, which can help you stay full longer. “
Riffing on this, Burgess adds that “hemp seeds are a great addition to smoothies, especially for vegans, because they are high in many essential nutrients vegans tend to be low in such as amino acids, omega 3 fats, iron, and zinc.” As she also points out, hemp seeds are filled with fiber, “which slows down our digestion and allows us to feel fuller longer,” which may, in turn, curb overeating.
Time to go under the sea for your next slimming smoothie superfood. “Spirulina is a type of deep blue-green algae found in supplement form, which may have potentially significant benefits in aiding weight loss,” says Burgess. “Try adding spirulina to your morning smoothie to instantly add vibrant color and loads of vitamins and minerals. My favorite to use is SpirulinaForLife because it comes in frozen packets rather than in a powder form, making it a more powerful source of nutrients.”
10. Almond Butter
Mmmm, you don’t have to tell us twice to add this delectable nut butter to our smoothies. Toby Smithson, registered dietitian, founder of DiabetesEveryDay.com, and author of Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies weighs in: “A low-calorie diet including almonds can be more effective in weight loss than a low-calorie complex carbohydrate diet. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders looked at participants who ate almonds (3 ounces per day) along with a low-calorie diet compared to those following a complex carbohydrate and low-calorie diet,” she says. “The almond eaters saw a 62 percent greater reduction in weight, 50 percent greater reduction in waist circumference and 56 percent great reduction in fat mass.” On that note, we’ll grab a handful of almonds for our afternoon snack, too.