We’ve discussed protein, fiber and now we’re going to discuss fat.
These three components are critically important in each meal, but especially important for your first meal (I’m suggesting you keep it a liquid meal for quick absorption and easy digest-ability).
Like I said, each of these three components play crucial and important roles in your smoothie–to review the reasons why and the science behind the first two I already blogged about, protein and fiber, I suggest you go back and read part 1 & part 2.
Now the first thing I want you to know about fat is that it is not evil, even though the low-fat folks out there would have you believe it is. This is outdated information that should have never been out there in the first place. 30+ years later, this misinformation is still bandied about as “science”.
If you’ve believed the low-fat mythology that has plagued the wellness world, I understand! I was there too, and as a matter of fact, I was taught this while attaining my certification, despite the fact that the science is clear how dietary fat benefits the body.
Fat (good, healthy fat–we’ll outline that in a minute) is responsible for the health of your brain, heart, hormone balance and function and provides fuel for your entire body.
To be clear, there are certain fats that you want to avoid, especially trans fats.
If you’re eating a whole foods based diet (whatever way your body is telling you to eat), you’ve likely already cleared the deck of such processed foods like margarine, hydrogenated oils of any kind, most vegetable oils (chemically extracted, highly heated and essentially a trans fat), shortening, microwave popcorn, deep fried anything and (no surprise) fast food.
Healthy fats include nuts, butter, avocados, real expeller pressed olive and avocado oils, fatty fish like salmon, sardines, chia seeds and dark chocolate–yes, CHOCOLATE!
Besides the metabolic functionality of fat in your diet, healthy fat also works with protein and fiber to provide satiety in your smoothie. This is critical–you don’t want to down a nutrient-rich smoothie only to be grabbing a snack an hour later. This is a setup for failure–your smoothie hasn’t done its job if you’re hungry!
Fat gives you the ability to stretch out the time between your meals AND helps you to find hunger again if you’re trying to break the habit of snacking and grazing all the time.
Watch how long you can go between meals once you start adding fat back into the mix–it’s amazing and something I’ve personally experimented with.
Once I started adding half a small avocado to my smoothie, I could go from just 3 hours of not being hungry to 5 or even 6 hours!
This is how I “found hunger” again, too. I have to confess to you that years ago, I used to advise people to eat 6 small meals a day to keep your sugar levels up–the hypothesis was so you didn’t feel hunger.
Made sense to me so that was my advice.
However, this 6 small meal a day practice came about because bodybuilders (read: big men) who needed (wait for it…) 7 to 8,000 calories a day (!) couldn’t get the calories they needed in just 3 meals, thus they figured it out with 6.
Somehow, the wellness world bought into this concept.
I will admit, it worked for awhile (not at the 8,000 calories a day level!) but there came a point where it didn’t. I don’t think I ever felt hungry for a few years following this 6 meal a day plan and after awhile, I began gaining weight even though everything was the same.
There are two reasons for this–first, your body adjusts to anything so it’s critical (especially for women past a “certain” age) to change it up and keep your body guessing. I do that now and will sometimes flip my smoothie and have it for “dinner”, just for this purpose of keeping my body guessing.
Second thing is that keeping your blood sugar levels up all the time messes with ghrelin and leptin, your hunger hormones.
Ravenously hungry? That’s ghrelin (the gremlin) stirring the pot and making you want to eat all the time.
Satiated? You can go 4 to 6 hours between meals?
That’s leptin’s role to keep your metabolism working optimally–leptin keeps your appetite down, but it can’t work if you’re eating constantly!
The secret sauce for keeping leptin doing it’s job and giving ghrelin the boot is to increase your consumption of healthy fat, adequate protein and fiber in each meal, but especially in the first meal of the day.
And this again, is why I recommend a liquid meal with a mindfully, nutrient-dense smoothie.
Here is my current smoothie recipe, with short explanations for each ingredient: