Smoothies are starting to become a big hit. A lot of people prefer smoothies over solid foods because they are easier to eat and you can blend in foods that you might not normally eat, such as spinach or flax seed. Smoothies come with their fair share of warnings, as well. If you are drinking a smoothie before your workout because it is easier to digest than a meal, be sure to be drinking your smoothie in a healthy way!
I recently read an article about Jamba Juice selling smoothies at schools through vending machines. The article mentioned some key advantages and disadvantages to selling smoothies in school. One of the disadvantages to smoothies is that they really are not a substitute to whole fruit; eating a full apple is healthier for your body than blending it. However, even though the apple is not as effective in its smoothie format, the student is still eating more fruit than if they had not eaten the apple in the first place.
There are a few smoothie drinking basics that will help your digestion and prepare you for your workout. Research has shown that smoothies can actually be tough on the digestion if you do not chew your smoothie for the first few bites. When you chew, your salivary glands secret enzymes that are necessary for proper digestion. Without those enzymes, digesting the smoothie can actually be tough for your stomach and your intestines. Swirl that smoothie around in your mouth and kick those enzymes into gear!
If you need fuel before your workout, getting the fuel through a smoothie is not a bad idea, but you do need to keep in mind that you are still consuming food. Pay attention to the amount of food that you are putting into your smoothie. If you do not think you would that much in each food’s whole food form, then you are probably a smoothie that is too hefty for you. Sure, you can probably finish the smoothie, but the food still has to go through a process! You should not simply “down” a smoothie because it is easy to do so. Take your time, about 30 minutes should do. Yes, you need to give your body a chance to take in some of the energy that you are putting into it, just like you would have had you had a granola bar.
Another tip is that you should avoid extremely cold smoothies. Have you heard the theories behind why you should avoid ice water? The same theories apply here. Additionally, if you are going to go into a workout, you should start to get your whole body warmed up!
Smoothies can be easier on your digestive system if you help the process. Keep your smoothies simple (less than 5 ingredients) and keep chewing! That way, you will have a good amount of energy, and a happy digestive system, when you start and finish your workout.
(photo courtesy of Richard Dudley)