The Smoothie & Acai Bowl fad – full of goodness or full of empty calories?*

Thursday, 12 January 2017, By Alicia Jovcevski

The Smoothie & Acai Bowl fad - full of goodness or full of empty calories?

Smoothies & Acai bowls are two of the most popular (& on trend) 'health food items' on most Café menu's right now, but are they actually good for us?

You see it everywhere, foodies posting creative photos to Facebook & Instagram of these gorgeous coloured, luscious looking, almost ice-cream like bowls topped with fresh berries & granola.

When you are looking to lose weight when you're out you tend to scout the menu for the 'healthiest' item on offer, but be aware when selecting these items as you may need to factor a few extra things (calories) into your day!

As we know, the fundamental way to lose weight is input vs output. Although ACAI themselves are packed with nutrients that contain 19 different amino acids, fibre, calcium, vitamins, phytochemicals & offer a unique form of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated & saturated fats, depending on where the berries are sourced from for that particular ACAI bowl, the berry is often processed away from its natural form, which means it loses a huge amount of nutritional value. 

Add on the mountain of fresh fruit that these Acai bowls are topped with & that beautiful smoothie bowl can contain anywhere from 43-92 grams of sugar! (not great if you are hoping to limit carbohydrates for fat loss).

Yes, it's fruit, which contains natural sugar & that trumps a chocolate bar, but your body treats sugar as sugar when it comes to insulin (the hormone that has the job of bringing blood sugar back down). So, if you are someone who has a healthy blood sugar balance & a healthy body weight then these are fine on occasion, but if you are someone who is trying to lose weight, whose body is sensitive to sugar or notices sugar can make you feel tired & headachy, you might need to reconsider these before tucking in!

Add in the addition of granola, which again is often highly processed & full of hidden sugar, and suddenly the nutritional value of this supposed bowl of goodness amounts to very little.

To the un-trained eye, you would better off going and buying a good quality ACAI powder & mixing it in with a cold pressed juice or add it to your home-made smoothies.

Which brings me to my next topic, ordering or making smoothies!
When made with wholefood ingredients these are nutritional powerhouses!

Today's society has never been more on-the-go. So, for some, smoothies are an important staple in their day where they can get in some of those fruit & veggies they normally don't like to eat.

You don't need a super expensive blender to make smoothies. Most blenders can puree frozen fruit easily & can even make leafy greens like kale & spinach undetectable. You can also add things like ginger & turmeric for added health benefits like reducing inflammation & supporting the immune system.

The secret to a smoothie that supports weight loss & overall health is the careful choice of ingredients. Here are things to be aware of when ordering off the menu or making at home:

  • The size of the smoothie: you would not consume x 3 bananas in one meal (or even a day!) so reconsider ordering an extra-large or if making yourself, avoid adding excess amounts of fruit as you will be consuming a high number of calories at once.
    Use fruit such as dates & bananas sparingly as they have a high GI!
  • It's always a beneficial to look for or to include a bit of fat in your smoothie (avocado, nuts, chia seeds, coconut oil etc.) to help the vitamins in the vegetables become more accessible by your body. Doing this will also increase the level of satiation so that you feel full for longer.
  • Avoid ordering smoothies that have added sweeteners unless it is something like stevia, which provides the sugary flavour without blood sugar spike. If you're ordering a smoothie at a juice bar or cafe, ask if it contains added sugar, syrup, or honey.
  • Think of your smoothie as a meal instead of a drink, & use smoothies as a meal replacement as they contain enough nutrients and energy to account for a meal.
  • Avoid additions like frozen yoghurt or yoghurt based varieties as these can contain loads of sugar & preservatives.

Just like anything else, smoothies are only as healthy as their individual ingredients, amounts & serving sizes. The calories can quickly creep up especially if the beverage is going to accompany a meal, rather than replace it. Choose to include mostly green veggies in your creation, along with a little healthy fat, plant-based or whey protein & minimal fruit, & your body will reap the many benefits.

It's great to see people taking the time to stop & consider what they are eating. Consuming loads of fresh fruit & veggies helps to balance the toxicity in our bodies.

Just be mindful, whatever the body doesn't immediately use for energy or store in the Carb Tank is likely to be converted into fat, so the potentially large amount of sugar that's ingested in a relatively short period of time with these types of foods can potentially be the chink in your healthy habit chain... Everything in life like ACAI bowls & smoothies should be enjoyed occasionally, but not all the time!

Here are two recipes you can try at home!

Berry-licious Smoothie Bowl
1/3 cup mixed berries, ¼ cup coconut yoghurt, 1 pitted medjool date, 2 tablespoons oats, 1 tablespoon protein, ¼ milk (dairy or plant based, up to you), 1 teaspoon rice malt syrup (optional),
3 tablespoons fresh berries, to serve 1 tablespoon coconut yoghurt, to serve, 1 teaspoon shredded coconut, to serve.

Blend all ingredients (except for extra berries, coconut yoghurt & shredded coconut) together & pour into a bowl & top with the extra berries, yoghurt & coconut.

Nourishing Breakfast Smoothie
20gms Banana
75gms fresh pineapple
75gms frozen mango
generous handful of Spinach
generous handful of Kale
Sprinkling of chia seeds
Sprinkling of ground turmeric
15mls Nestle Unsweetened Coconut Milk
x 1 scoop Vision Vanilla Whey Protein Powder

Blend all ingredients together & enjoy!

Alicia Jovcevski
Studio Owner

*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.

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