Drinking Juices and Smoothies as Meal Replacements

By Pat Crocker

Juices and smoothies should always be an integrated part of a balanced diet. Having said that, you can start to control the amount of calories and the portions of foods you consume within a balanced diet by drinking a juice or smoothie for one meal in your day on an occasional basis.

Keeping a food log and knowing the total calories you consume each day is a pretty good exercise for anyone serious about losing weight. It not only shows you how much you consume, but also helps to pinpoint the high-calorie foods. A successful weight-loss program provides 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day.

You can divide your day into five light meals and three light snacks, allowing roughly 200 calories per meal and between 100 and 150 calories for the snacks. If you’re still eating three main meals and one or two snacks in a day, that works out to roughly 350 to 400 calories per meal and 100 to 200 calories for the snacks.

It’s important for you to get an idea of how many calories are in the foods you eat every day and how to keep everything you eat — meals, drinks, and snacks — in line with a reasonable calorie goal for your age, sex, and physical activity.

Drinking a pure vegetable juice or smoothie is an excellent way to nourish your body with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, while lowering calories because they’re virtually fat-free and lower in natural sugars than fruit. Here are some tips for making juices and smoothies to replace a meal:

  • Choose mostly vegetables and use fruit sparingly. One apple or other fruit to three vegetables is a good ratio to follow for juices or smoothies.

  • Use only low-fat dairy products in smoothies. Skip cheese and ice cream and check labels on yogurt for artificial sweeteners and other ingredients used as thickeners; use skim or 1 percent milk in smoothies.

  • Use only your own juices in smoothies. Juicing your own apples or oranges for the liquid in smoothies will reduce the calories significantly because bottled juices tend to be higher in calories.

  • Add some protein. Stir a tablespoon of flaxseeds, chia seeds, nuts, tofu, or whey powder into juice or smoothies.

  • Include dark greens. Adding kale, Swiss chard, spinach, or broccoli boosts calcium.

  • Avoid dried and canned fruit. They’re usually high in sugar, and some are treated with chemicals.