We traditionally think of smoothies as a break-fast meal option or MAYBE you consider it a lunch as well. But we don't often consider a smoothie as something we can have at dinner.
And although I'm more of a break-fast/lunch smoothie fan, there are quite a few AENpeeps who have found that having a smoothie at dinner helps to simplify their routine and ensure that they get the necessary protein, fat and fiber to support their weight loss and wellness goals.
But there are a few things you'll want to consider when whipping up your "dinner smoothie" to make sure that it supports your goals.
Let's dive into it.
#1 Don't Add Any Stimulants
In the morning and at lunchtime, adding some natural stimulants like coffee, tea, matcha and cacao is perfectly fine. You have the rest of the day for your body to metabolize that caffeine so by the time you hit they hay, it's out of your system. But when you're making a "dinner smoothie", these ingredients need to be swapped out. Having any amount of caffeine at dinner can suppress the sleep hormone melatonin and reduce the quality of deep sleep. Poor quality sleep is linked to increased insulin resistance, obesity and hunger.(1)
So if a recipe calls for any of these ingredients, make sure to swap it out for something else (or use a different smoothie entirely). Thankfully, my new Official Smoothie Cookbook has over 75 recipes for you to choose from, so you'll never be short on ideas!
Check out my Official Smoothie Cookbook HERE.
#2 Keep The Sugar Low
Just like with caffeine/stimulants, we also want to keep the sugar content very low at dinnertime. If you have too much sugar before bed, this can cause a big spike in blood sugar levels which can lead to an equally big crash. When the body experiences this sugar crash, it starts pumping out the stress hormone cortisol to bring the sugar level back up. Unfortunately, this also counters the sleep hormone melatonin and can wake you up.
Most "healthy" smoothie recipes you'll find online are surprisingly high in sugar and use very high glycemic foods such as fruit juice, dates or a lot of high sugar fruit (such as bananas and mango). So make sure to opt for 1-2 servings of low sugar fruits like raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries ~ especially when having your smoothie at dinner.
#3 Get Adequate Protein
This goes for any smoothie that you're making. A smoothie can't be considered a meal unless it contains adequate amounts of high quality protein. I personally aim for about 20-25 grams of complete protein in my smoothies from sources such as greek yogurt, skyr, kefir and my zero sugar pasture-raised whey protein powder.
Getting enough protein for your body's needs is crucial for maintaining muscle mass throughout your weight loss or wellness journey AND for helping to stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent sugar cravings.
You can get a better idea of exactly how much protein you need per day with my super simple video below.
#4 Don't Go Too Heavy On The Fats
But this doesn't mean you should skip the fats altogether. Whole food sources of fat help to stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent cravings. It's also needed to absorb fat soluble vitamins for optimal health. But because digestion tends to slow down in the evening, you don't want to load up on too many fats that could slow it down even further.
Instead of the usual 3-4 servings of fats that might be needed in a break-fast or lunch smoothie, you may want to aim for 2-3 instead. Checkout my full list of recommended fats to use in smoothies in my Official Smoothie Cookbook on page 8.
#5 Sip It, Don't Chug It
This is just a good rule of thumb in general, but especially when having a "dinner smoothie". Even if you opt for lower sugar smoothies, you can still absorb those sugars very quickly (and get a bigger spike in blood sugar) if you drink it quickly. Instead of downing the smoothie in 1-2 minutes, try and sip on it over the course of 10 minutes. Adding zero sugar toppings like coconut flakes or pumpkin seeds can help provide the "chew" factor to aid in this process. This will help to slow down the absorption of the small amount of sugars into your body.