The Truth About Fruit Smoothies

In 1998, I went for a morning workout after hitting a fruit smoothie place and Starbucks. I figured, a little caffeine, a little healthy fruit smoothie action, and BAM! Plenty of energy to build the guns. What a horrible gastronomic gargantuan mistake that was. Between the smoothie and the coffee, my workout lasted about 10 mins.

It didn’t hit me then that a fruit smoothie and coffee could crush a workout like that. I thought, its crushed fruit, yogurt and juice, it has to be good for you right? Wrong. Between skyrocketing my blood sugar and amplifying that with a mocha (double shot no less + more sugar!) I annihilated my physiology to the point where I started shaking forcing me to stop the workout. Keeping in mind this was pure operator error, but it illustrates an extreme example of what can happen why you blow your blood sugar sky high.

I learned the hard way that a “healthy” smoothy is loaded with sugar, and very often can have more sugar than a 12oz can of coke (39g/can). That number has the potential to go up as high as 95g of sugar depending on if you add any  “boosts.”

Now, I’m not a registered dietician or nutritionist, but I’ve got a decent understanding of how the body works at this level, and I’ve heard Dr. Clyde Wilson talk, andI’ve read his research,  so I think I’ve got a better idea than most. I know a massive influx of sugar (regardless of its fructose or sucrose) into your body spikes your blood sugar in a manner that is nothing but bad news.

So, you’re looking for a healthy snack, and in the process you have the potential to put well over two cans of Coke’s worth of sugar in your body. Sign me up! Do it often enough, and that amount of sugar will add weight on you like nobodies business and here’s why.

“The faster sugar enters the bloodstream, the less goes to muscle, and the more goes to fat,” says Dr Wilson in his book What, When and Water: Nutrition for Weight Loss Wellness. “Eating rapidly digesting carbs will spike blood sugar and insulin levels resulting in a blood sugar crash with an increased hunger once the sugars are cleared into fat stores.”

Wilson also says when you replace a natural food with a processed food (juicing falls into this category) you “reduce the fiber and nutrient content significantly and make the resulting food one step closer to pure sugar.”

Microbiologist and NASM-CPT Lea Swenson agrees with Wilson.

You get the most benefit by eating fruits and vegetables in their ‘raw’ state.  When you juice a fruit or a vegetable you remove all of its fiber and bulk (as well as increase oxidation, thereby destroying nutrients),” she said. “The bulk is there for satiety and keeps us from eating 7 apples at a time and the fiber acts as a ‘control valve’ for releasing
glucose into our bloodstream.”  

By ingesting foods in a juiced state, you violate the glycemic index (GI is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates in food on blood sugar levels) in big way. Foods with protein and fat have a much lower GI rating than those with simple sugars

Swenson also said if you “flood the bloodstream with sugar and your pancreas floods your bloodstream with insulin in an attempt to deliver the glucose to your cells.”

Do this enough, and you become “insulin resistant.” When this happens, your muscles will absorb fewer calories. The ones your body does absorb have a much higher likelihood of going straight to fat storage.

“Circulating glucose fuels our brain (continuously) and goes to short-term storage in the liver and muscles as glycogen, ” says Swenson. “Once these glycogen stores are full the excess goes to long-term storage as fat.”

If you have a hard time losing weight when you’ve got carbohydrates in your diet, you are probably insulin resistant or your body may be addicted to sugar. There is a way around this.

Dr Wilson suggests if you are having a hard time losing weight, you should:

1) Only use legumes as your starch.

2) Temporarily eliminate grains, rice and potatoes from your diet.

3) If you are going to have a dessert, have a LARGE dark green salad prior to to slow the rate at which your body absorbs food.


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Never attempt any new exercises mentioned in the VelowReviews blog without a thorough evaluation from a physician, personal trainer, strength coach, athletic trainer, physical therapist or sports chiropractor.