Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic. But I see it time and time again, people consuming way too many calories because they think the food is a “healthy” source or that juices and smoothies are inherently “healthy”.
The fact of the matter is, you must control your overall calorie intake, regardless of whether or not the foods you are eating are perceptibly “healthy”. You can easily accommodate calories for a shake, smoothie, or juice… however, these drinks are often not accounted for and can pack quite a caloric punch.
Why it’s not always better to drink your calories
When you are eating whole foods in their natural form they are combined with fiber and micronutrients. When you are masticating your food your body releases enzymes to break down the food you are eating. This food is meant to be broken down over a long period of time in your stomach and the fiber is meant to slow the absorption of carbohydrates into your blood stream.
In addition, the more you chew, the slower you are eating, and the sooner you will feel “full”.
For example, if you tried to sit down and eat all of these veggies/fruits you would likely find it a struggle, whereas you can drink them in a smoothie/shake/juice in 5 minutes with no issues. Where’s the problem with this?
If you were to eat them in whole form you may get a few hundred calories in before you’re full… you can drink a 1,200 calories date-o-rade and be hungry an hour later.
Our hunger hormones aren’t working in our favor when we drink our calories
Our hunger is triggered by a hormone called “ghrelin” which is produced in the stomache/duodenum. This hormone says “I’M HUNGRY FEED ME!” when the stomach is empty. When the stomach is stretched it reduces the hormone to say “okay, i’m full, i don’t need to eat anymore”.
When you are drinking juices or smoothies with a high water content they pass through the digestive system in a very short amount of time. This means that you will feel hungry again in a short period of time because the stomach is not being stretched (which triggers that hormone to stop producing).
The slow digestion of whole foods takes up more space in your stomach causing you to feel fuller longer.
Because eating foods in their whole form takes a longer time and requires a lot of chewing you will feel full sooner and longer.
Still want to drink your calories?
No worries! Just make sure that you account for all the calories in your drink every time. Make sure that your beverage of choice works in accordance with your specific calorie and micronutrient goals. Understand that these might not keep you full for a long period of time so they should not be replacing a meal as you’re more likely to eat additional calories to assist in satiety.
Want more information on Nutrition? Check out our Beginner’s Guide Series!