Creating Low-Glycemic Smoothies
The problem with most smoothies, if you have diabetes, is they can send your blood sugar to the moon and back.
Though generally advertised as being healthy, commercially made smoothies often contain as much or more sugar than some candy bars, or a can of regular soda. Even make-at-home recipes can be sugar bombs containing 300 to over 600 calories per drink.
Still, by giving thought to the glycemic index or load of the ingredients, people with diabetes may choose to enjoy smoothies as snacks or small meals.
Seven Low-Glycemic Smoothie Tips
- Having plenty of protein and healthy fats in a smoothie slows down digestion, allowing the body to absorb carbohydrates at a more moderate rate. You can ratchet up the fat and protein grams of a smoothie by adding goodies such as tofu (it’s tasteless), cottage cheese, plain (unsweetened) yogurt, a high quality protein supplement powder, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, or oats.
- Watch portion sizes and do the math. Even healthy ingredients can add up to a lot of calories, and calories we fail to burn become pounds on the scale.
- Use mostly low-glycemic fruits in your smoothies. The best choices are apples and berries.
- Pack your smoothies with less fruit (or no fruit) and use more nutrient rich veggies such as carrots, cucumber, sweet red peppers, and leafy greens.
- Add only unsweetened ingredients—those without added sugars such as plain yogurt. If the drink is not sweet enough try tweaking the taste with natural stevia powder or extract. Stevia is an herbal sweetener that does not elevate blood glucose.
- Water or unsweetened teas are the best choices for your smoothie’s base liquid. Using fruit juice adds too many calories and carbs. Unsweetened nondairy milks (e.g., almond, coconut) are also options. Low fat dairy milk is a higher calorie choice, but will bulk up the smoothie with more protein and some fat.
- Become a connoisseur of mini-smoothies. Fill your blender 1/2 to 3/4 full instead of to the top, and use just three to four ingredients. For instance, you could whip together some unsweetened almond milk, whey protein powder or almond butter, and toss in blueberries, or a small banana. Play with the flavor by adding a dash of spice such as cinnamon.
Smoothies may not fit with everyone’s dietary guidelines, but with creative planning and experimenting you may be able to enjoy smoothies that mesh with your glucose management plan.
Snack Size Smoothie Recipe
Combine and blend:
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup raspberries
- 1/2 fresh peach
- 1 soft poached egg
- 3 tbsp soy protein supplement (15g protein, 9g carbs)
- 2 tbsp frozen orange juice
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Calories: 250, Protein: 21g, Carbs: 26g; to reduce the carb grams further, substitute fresh baby spinach for the peach, or for half the berries.