While most people turn to green smoothies to help them lose weight, some people need to gain weight. If you plan your green smoothies right, they can be a source of extra calories and protein that can help you get up to a healthy weight.
Here are some tips for packing on the healthy weight without returning to unhealthy foods.
1) Choose Calorie Dense Smoothie Ingredients
Because they are made with fruits and vegetables, green smoothies are not calorie-dense. This makes them perfect for weight loss. A large, 32-ounce smoothie might only have 350 calories.
But if you want to gain weight, you might need to push your green smoothies into the 500+ calorie range. Adding more fruit would do it, but then you’d have to chug a massive 50-60-ounce super-shake.
Here’s how to pack in the calories in a much more manageable green smoothie:
- Use plant milks like coconut, rice, or almond milk. Rice milk tends to have the most calories with around 100 per 8 ounce (240 ml) serving.
- Add chia seeds. A once ounce (28 gram) serving of chia seeds adds 130(ish) calories. *
- Use high-calorie fruits. A medium banana has around 120 calories. A large mango (336 grams) has almost 200 calories!
- Use nut butters. Blend 2 tablespoons of peanut or almond butter in your green smoothie and you’ll add almost 200 calories.
- Use dried goji berries. One ounce adds 100 calories (and 4 grams of protein).
- Use young Thai (or green) coconuts. Use the water and meat to add 170 calories.
- Use avocado. One-half will add 160 calories to your green smoothie.
* I recommend using only one fat ingredient per green smoothies. In this case, choose either chia seeds, nut butters, coconut, or avocado. Using more than one of these ingredients may cause gas, bloating, and digestive discomfort.
If you blend a green smoothie with 8 ounces (240 ml) of rice milk, 1 medium banana, 1 large mango, a couple tablespoons of chia seeds, an ounce of goji berries, and 2 handfuls of chopped kale, you will easily get 600+ calories in just under 32 ounces.
Another option is to blend the meat and water from a young Thai coconut, 1 medium banana, 1 large mango, 2 handfuls of kale, and 8 ounces of rice milk for around 600 calories in the ballpark of a 32-ounce green smoothie.
Water-rich fruits like watermelon, berries, and grapes, as well as cucumbers add lots of water and fiber, but not many calories. Skip these if your goal is to make high-calorie smoothies.
Gain Muscle, Not Fat
Adding extra calories to your green smoothie, however, will only help you put on healthy weight if you are exercising.
Give your body a reason to build itself with the proper materials – muscle. If you increase your calorie intake while maintaining a couch potato lifestyle, you’ll only succeed in adding body fat. That’s not something you want to bulk up with. What you want is muscle.
Most people effortlessly gain excess body fat because their body automatically stores additional calories, dietary fat, and sugar as body fat.
However, muscle is different. Your body does not store excess dietary protein. Therefore, you need to send your body a message to build muscle by working out, preferably with a regular weight or resistance-training workout.
Both increasing calories and working out will help your body add muscle weight rather than fat weight, which is what you want.
Add a quality protein powder to your green smoothies to further boost the calories (usually 50-60 calories per serving). The additional 12-20 grams of protein per serving (check the label) will help you build muscle if you are doing strength training.
Go Beyond Green Smoothies
You don’t have to only rely on green smoothies to gain weight. Incorporate high-calorie foods that will help you get to a healthy weight.
Brown rice, quinoa, beans, nuts, seeds, eggs – these are all great foods that add calories and protein to your diet.
If you are still having trouble gaining weight after increasing calories and working out, see a dietitian or nutritionist who can tailor a specific meal plan to help you reach your goal weight.