This page will show you the basics of losing weight with green smoothies and plant-based whole foods.
Weight loss is one of the most celebrated health benefits of green smoothies.
In fact, I lost 40 pounds after I incorporated green smoothies into my diet every day beginning in 2008.
Thousands and thousands of my readers and program participants have also shed weight thanks to green smoothies and whole foods.
Over the years, I have simplified the method of losing weight by making a three-step change to my diet and lifestyle.
But before I get into that 3-step change below, I must stress that weight loss is never a sprint, and long lasting results never come from a temporary crash diet.
The ONLY way that you can successfully lose weight and keep it off for good is to develop a new relationship with food.
If you don’t permanently change your thinking and relationship with food, none of the advice that I (or anyone else) give you will help you one bit. No diet program will work long term.
If you want to lose weight for good, then you must…
Focus On Long Term Weight Loss Rather Than Temporary Crash Diets
A rapid fat loss diet might help you lose a dress size or two, but you’ll likely put the weight back on and then some once you go off the diet.
While those who market weight loss products (and diets) make claims about losing 15 pounds in 10 days, or 30 pounds in a month, this sort of weight loss is rarely permanent.
In fact, rapid weight loss can negatively impact your metabolism.
A recent article in the New York Times exposed how rapid weight loss on TV shows like The Biggest Loser can cause your metabolism to slow down. In short, most participants – including the winners – end up gaining much of their weight back after the show.
What happens is that your body adjusts to your diet. If you drop calorie intake too low, your metabolism will slow down to adapt to the insufficient diet.
The problem is, your metabolism doesn’t rev back up after the diet. It tends to remain depressed, making weight gain a lot easier. It also becomes impossible to maintain weight loss.
So while you will feel on top of the world after losing 30 pounds in 30 days, the reality is that when the diet ends, it will be very hard to maintain that weight loss. This is the reason why people tend to gain all of the weight, plus a few extra pounds, weeks or months after going on a diet.
A slow, steady lifestyle change that incorporates green smoothies, whole foods, and daily fitness is the only answer to long term weight loss, but it doesn’t always blast fat off as fast as you’d like.
How Fast Should You Lose Weight?
There is some confusion about how fast you should lose weight. If you have ever watched TV shows like NBC’s The Biggest Loser, you might think that it is normal to lose anywhere from 6-15 pounds per week, every single week.
Unfortunately, that’s not realistic weight loss. The contestants on this show are playing a game and their lives revolve around exercise (six hours or more per day).
They are on a medically-supervised diet. They have a professional team of experts monitoring their health by the hour. And a former contestant has claimed the weigh-ins on the show are taped several weeks apart, not weekly.
Your life is not a TV show so your results will reflect “real world” weight loss numbers.
According to most professionals, 1-2 pounds per week is the healthiest rate at which to shed pounds. I know, patience is HARD!
While this rate of weight loss is frustratingly slow, keep in mind that you are not wrecking your metabolism in order to lose weight quickly. The 1-2 pounds per week that you lose are more likely to be permanently gone from your life.
You might lose a lot of weight in the beginning – especially if you have a lot of weight to lose. Somebody who is more than 150 pounds overweight is going to lose weight faster (initially) than someone who is only 30 pounds overweight. As you get closer to your ideal weight, weight loss may slow down or plateau.
On the first week of your new weight loss plan, you typically reduce sodium and cut starches. You’ll lose a lot of water weight. You might lose more weight the first week than you do the second, third or fourth. That is completely normal (and healthy), it doesn’t mean that your diet needs to be tweaked to speed things up.
Many weight loss experts recommend creating a deficit of 500 calories per daythrough a combination of eating fewer calories and increasing physical activity. Over the course of an average week, this should yield a loss of about 1-2 pounds of fat.
Losing weight should be a long term goal. You didn’t gain all of your excess weight in only 30 days so you shouldn’t expect to lose it as fast.
If you want to keep it off for good, you need to learn actual weight loss strategies for the long term. Crash diets are only going to cause you to put the weight back on later.
Okay, now on to the 3-step lifestyle change to lose weight with green smoothies and plant-based, whole foods.
Step 1: Drink A Green Smoothie Every Day
The first step in to losing weight is by drinking a green smoothie every single day. The most effective way to do this is to replace one meal each day (preferably breakfast) with a large green smoothie meal.
I like to start my day with a green smoothie, and I’ve found this habit to be very effective for weight loss. The reason is that you start your day feeling cleansed and healthy, and that makes it easier to make healthier decisions for the rest of your meals throughout the day.
How To Make The Perfect Weight Loss Green Smoothie
1: Make It A Meal. I have found it very effective to use green smoothies as a meal replacement. Replacing one meal each day with a smoothie is an easy way to lower daily calorie intake.
It also increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables while boosting your water and fiber intake – all great things for weight loss.
Most recipes that I post on my website have around 350 calories. This is NOT a lot of calories for a weight loss meal. My green smoothie meals fill me up without making me hungry (and susceptible to cravings) an hour later.
A green smoothie meal should be about 28-32 ounces. If you can’t drink the whole thing all at once, then drink half once you make it, then finish the other half about an hour or so later. (Store leftover smoothie in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.)
Your green smoothie meal should have at least 300 calories if you are a woman, or 400+ if you are a man.
2: User Water or Plant-Based Milks. Water or plant milks like almond milk are low in fat and calories. Almond milk helps give your weight loss green smoothie a creamy texture, while making it more filling. It’s also very easy to make.
While it might be tempting to use milk or yogurt, I don’t recommend using these foods in green smoothies. Milk and yogurt add unnecessary fat and calories and have other possible negative health consequences that could undermine your health and weight loss goals.
3: Add A Pinch Of Healthy Fat. Add 1/4 of an avocado, or a tablespoon of chia seeds or flaxseed, or some fresh young coconut to give your smoothie some heart healthy fats. Nut milks are good, too!
Fat doesn’t make you fat. Healthy, plant-based fats are good for you and can help you lose weight.
4: Sweeten It With Fruit. Don’t be afraid to use bananas, mangoes, grapes, and other sweet fruit in a weight loss green smoothie. These fruits will sweeten your smoothies without making you fat. The naturally-occurring sugars found in fruits do not cause weight gain.
5: Use A High-Quality Protein Powder. You can double the naturally-occurring protein content of your green smoothie (yes, all fruits and veggies have protein) with a protein powder.
Protein powder boosts the protein content, and it helps you feel full and satisfied. I use NutriBiotic vegan rice protein powder in my green smoothies.
You can also increase the protein content of your green smoothies naturally using chia seeds and goji berries, as well as higher protein greens like kale and dandelion greens.
Replacing one meal each day with a green smoothie has four benefits that facilitate weight loss:
- It typically results in an automatic reduction in calorie intake, because fruits and vegetables are not calorie-dense. They are also loaded with fiber and water.
- It boosts energy levels.
- It resets your taste buds so that you begin to enjoy healthier foods. Sugary foods start tasting too sweet, and salty or greasy foods feel heavy and less appealing.
- It increases your fruit and vegetable consumption, making it easy to get 5+ servings every day. The overwhelming body of clinical evidence shows that those who eat more fruits and vegetables tend to have lower body weights, and lower risk of chronic disease.
To get started, check out the most delicious green smoothie recipes that you will ever taste!
Step 2: Eat More Plant-Based, Whole Foods
Green smoothies are a powerful weight loss tool, but they are much more effective when they are part of a healthy, whole foods-based diet.
The best weight loss results come from transitioning to a diet that is more plant-based (but not necessarily vegan or vegetarian), with lots of fresh, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and lean proteins.
I say this a lot, but it’s true: A daily green smoothie will not undo fast food lunches, mindless snacking, or frequent indulgences in unhealthy snack foods. Green smoothies are a not a bandage fix over a less-than-stellar diet.
There are lots of little changes that you can make to your diet that add up to big results over time. Some of these changes include:
- Swapping white rice for brown rice (or quinoa). Brown rice and quinoa are whole foods, packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. They are a much healthier alternative to white rice, pasta, couscous, or other high-calorie, high-carb meal companions.
- Try zucchini noodles in place of pasta. They are super-easy to make in a Spiralizer (or Veggetti), and have a delightful crunch. Plus they are very low in calories and 100% veggie!
- Eat more in the morning and less in the evenings (most people do the opposite). Your body needs more fuel in the morning, but excess calories that come in with a large evening meal (or nighttime snacking) turn to fat while you sleep.
- Don’t skip snacks, but be sure you keep healthy foods available (especially when you’re on the go) like raw nuts, fresh fruits. Healthy, mindful snacking helps eliminate hunger, prevent cravings, and keeps you on track with your diet.
- Stay hydrated. Studies have shown that people who are chronically dehydrated tend to have higher body weights. Part of the reason for this is that symptoms of dehydration are often confused with hunger. Not only is water the best drink, a diet higher in fresh fruits and vegetables is naturally more hydrating.
These changes don’t need to be made all at once. Take your time. Start by replacing some high-sugar, high-fat processed foods with whole food alternatives. Read labels and choose foods that have less added sugars, preservatives, sodium, and artificial ingredients.
Start by tweaking your lunches by making them healthier. Then tackle dinner.
One more thing – do not skip meals or eat as little as possible.
Severe calorie restriction (eating less than 1500 calories per day) will not make you lose more weight, or shed pounds faster. Instead, it will make you feel hungry, and set you up for experiencing intense cravings which may threaten to pull you off track.
Severe calorie restriction can also slow your metabolism. A slower metabolism means that it will actually become harder for you to continue losing weight, while making it easier to gain it – especially when the diet is over.
Instead of doing a liquid starvation diet or other extreme protocol that won’t keep the weight off, make permanent adjustments to your diet. Change your habits!
Step 3: Move Your Body
Weight loss is 80% diet, and most people can get close to their goal weight without hitting the gym on a regular basis if they stick to a healthy diet over the long term.
However, regular exercise accelerates weight loss. It also boosts your metabolism, which can make it much easier for you to maintain a lower body weight.
Fitness boosts energy levels, as well as mood, and fights stress – all things that give you an edge when it comes to losing weight.
Now you don’t need to join a gym in order to be slim. All you really need is about 30-minutes per day of physical activity. You can also make easy lifestyle adjustments to boost your fitness, such as parking further away from store entrances, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work.
You can also do “Cardio Commercials” by completing a set of exercises during commercial breaks when you watch TV. Even walking provides a ton of health benefits, so you don’t need to do high-intensity workouts in order to get results.
No matter your physical ability (or mobility), find some activity (even if you have to do it while sitting down), that makes you more active today that you were yesterday!
To get started: My Reset 28 program has a fitness routine built into it. I also do Beachbody workouts. My favorites are FOCUS T25 and PiYo, which is a combination of Yoga and Pilates. (Disclosure: These links are Amazon.com affiliate links.)
What About Carbs?
You might think it’s odd that I write a whole article on weight loss and not once mention cutting carbohydrates. The truth is that in the context of a healthy, whole foods-based diet, carbs do not matter.
There is a HUGE misconception that in order to lose weight, you need to avoid all carbohydrates. Carbs are seen as bad things that make you fat.
Many super-healthy, whole foods are considered carbohydrates but do not cause weight gain. Foods like brown rice, quinoa, beans, and fresh fruits (yes, even bananas, grapes, and watermelons) are awesome weight loss foods and feature prominently in meal plans that I have created that have helped thousands of people lose weight.
Unlike sources of bad carbs (pasta, pizza, cookies, white bread), good carbs provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and they are naturally lower in calories. They don’t spike blood sugar levels.
When you are eating healthy, whole foods (that is, foods in or close to their natural state), you do not need to count carbs (or track calories).
I hope this article has given you some direction and motivation to take your next step toward your weight loss goal. I would love to assist you, as well. (That’s why I created this blog!)
Here are three things you can do right now that will get you started:
1) Kickstart your weight loss journey with a plan you can follow. Avoid gimmicky cleanses and supplements and stick with long-term, sustainable changes to your diet and lifestyle.
2) Choose a fitness routine that works for you. Walking counts!
3) Losing weight isn’t just a physical/diet process. It’s a mental and emotional one, too.
4) Get & Stay Inspired. (See below…)
Inspiration: People Who Have Lost Massive Weight With Green Smoothies & Whole Foods
A few years ago, I asked my readers to send me stories about how green smoothies changed their lives. These stories were awe-inspiring.
In fact, I received a handful from people for whom green smoothies lead to, or contributed to, a 100+ pound weight loss.
Here they are:
1) James B. – Glen Burnie, Maryland, USA – 116 Pound Weight Loss
James lost an incredible 116 pounds in less than a year, and he reports that his blood glucose is no longer in the diabetic range.
“I was grossly obese, weighing in at 386 pounds. I was borderline diabetic, taking blood pressure medications, suffering from edema in my legs, and very depressed. Wanting to get healthier, I searched the web and found Tracy’s web site.
I started drinking green smoothies. Almost immediately I felt an increase in my energy, and the weight began pouring off. I adopted Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s nutritarian philosophy after seeing him on PBS. The radical changes in my body got me off blood pressure medicine, my legs are improving, and I am no longer diabetic*.
Between the green smoothies that are a mainstay of my diet and the other things I have been doing to improve my health, I have so far lost 116 pounds toward my goal of 200.
Tracy’s programs and emails have helped keep me on track whenever I have wavered in my resolve. I find the timing of the emails was very fortuitous in that several came at particularly trying times when I needed to reinforce my commitment.”
* (Editor’s Note: While green smoothies and a whole foods diet may help some people manage diabetes, there is no known cure for the disease. Continue to monitor your blood glucose numbers and check in with your doctor, even after your numbers return to normal.)
2) Jeff – Inverness, FL, USA – 108 Pound Weight Loss
Jeff’s incredible weight loss story all but squashes any excuse you might have for not getting on the green smoothie bandwagon.
Here’s a guy who weighed almost 400 pounds, had high triglycerides, and high cholesterol. He had all of the other health issues that go along with obesity…that is, until he started drinking green smoothies and changing his life!
“I started drinking green smoothies on March 16, 2012. At the time, I weighed 392 pounds. I have lost 108 pounds in nine months [as of January 2013]. My triglycerides went from 465 down to 171! My cholesterol dropped from 249 down to 188!
I drink about 36 ounces of green smoothie per day (three 12-ounce glasses), made in my Magic Bullet. I eat about four to five times a day. I drink green smoothies in the morning. I usually have a salad for lunch and a decent dinner. I eat nuts or hard boiled eggs between meals for my protein. I also use a protein powder in my green smoothies.
I’m also working out four to six days a week. I’m doing at least five miles on the elliptical, walking two to three miles daily, and bike riding at least five miles each workout. Energy has been enormous.
Green smoothies have made me realize that I can be happy eating healthier when I see and feel the amazing results. This has been a positively motivating lifestyle change.
My ultimate weight loss goal is to get down to 250 pounds, which I plan to be at by March 2013. I am ecstatic with green smoothies. WHAT A RUSH!!!!”
3) Jendayi Nanyamka – Brooklyn, NY, USA – 100+ Pound Weight Loss
Six years ago, Jendayi weighed 275 pounds. Once she discovered green smoothies, she embarked on a lifestyle reboot that lead to better health and fitness, and a 100+ pound weight loss!
“I started drinking green smoothies six years ago when I was at 275 pounds. I decided I wanted a lifestyle change. I wanted to lose weight and live a healthier life.
Once I began drinking green smoothies, I noticed my daily energy had increased despite being a poor sleeper. I also found that my immune system became stronger and better at resisting infections.
I also noticed a huge change in my diet. Drinking green smoothies set the foundation for a healthier daily diet that helped me lose over 100 pounds.
I also started exercising five days a week. I jump, run, do push-ups, squats and kickboxing. I do strength training, power walks and jog around the park.
Along with green smoothies, I eat a mostly vegan diet, although I do eat fish and eggs. I have cut back significantly on junk food, and have cut fried foods out of my diet. I eat a lot of vegetables and I love them but I am always looking for ways to incorporate more vegetables, which is a huge benefit of drinking green smoothies. I also consume a lot of water.”
4) Michele Flaherty – Maine, USA – 100 Pound Combined Weight Loss
And finally, here is a phenomenal story about how Michelle and her husband lost over 100 pounds (combined) and reversed obesity-related health problems (high cholesterol, sleep apnea).
And they didn’t stop at weight loss. The entire family ran a 5K together.
“About a year ago, my husband and I found our health reaching an all-time low. My husband was obese and had high blood pressure as well as severe sleep apnea.
I was 25 pounds overweight with borderline high blood pressure. I also had high cholesterol! My two younger siblings are on anti-hypertensive and cholesterol lowering medications. I did not want to be on any medications and was determined to change my lifestyle.
I researched all kinds of diets on the Internet and came across the Incredible Smoothies website [now DavyandTracy.com]. I thought to myself; ‘This, I can do!’
We started drinking green smoothies on a daily basis about six months ago. I usually have my smoothie for lunch, after some vigorous exercise.
I am happy to say that my husband has lost 75 pounds! He is down to the weight he was in high school! His sleep apnea is gone and his blood pressure is now normal! He has lots of energy now.
I have lost 35 pounds. I haven’t been at this weight since I was in my 20’s (I’m 46)! My cholesterol and blood pressure are down as well. I do not need to be on any medication! Thank you!
We are pleased to have changed our lifestyle and will continue to eat well and exercise. My husband and I eat a whole foods diet now. We consume lots of raw fruit and vegetables. I would have never eaten kale if it weren’t in a smoothie! Nuts, seeds and whole grains also round our our diet. We have cut down drastically on animal products and we’ve eliminated all processed foods.
My husband had set a goal to run a 5K. He reached that goal when we all ran a 5K as a family on Thanksgiving Day 2012. We would have never dreamed of doing a 5K on Thanksgiving Day if we hadn’t lost the weight and gained energy!
I used to be an avid runner before having two children. I find myself running again! I was able to train and finish a half marathon, something I have not done in over 15 years!
Having a green smoothie every day is the simplest change to make. It gave us the boost we needed to improve our diet. Before that, it was overwhelming to think about, but this was a change we felt we could do!”
Now doesn’t that inspire you? You can do this!
But you need a plan, and the right strategies, and a support system that cheers you on every step of the way.
You can either make weight loss a “someday goal”, or you can make it a “today goal”.
Attempting yet another fad diet will give you more of the same results – short term weight loss, but then you’ll gain it all back when you stop dieting.
Instead, you can learn new habits and completely change your relationship to food, while dramatically transforming your body.
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