Smoothies that keep you full for several hours exist! Here’s the trick. 

Do smoothies fill you up? I’ll be honest. I’ve never found smoothies filling. An hour later, I’m hungry again and thinking ‘why did I bother’ or ‘what’s all this smoothie hype about?’

I like to chew. In my mind, chewing is eating. And sometimes, I drink so quickly, that I blink and I’ve finished my ‘so-called’ meal.

Turns out, there is a trick to making a smoothie that keeps you feeling full – and a few simple tips to keep in mind.

Blender with smoothie ingredients on kitchen bench
Learn how to supercharge your smoothie with filling ingredients, so it’ll actually keep you full for several hours. Image: Unsplash

How to make smoothies more filling

To make smoothies that keep you full, add in ‘extras’. This will help ensure you stay full and give you longer lasting energy. It’ll help ensure you get a good mix of nutrients and a balanced meal.

To feel full with smoothies, you’ll want to add in:

  • a good source of healthy fat

  • a good source of carbohydrates

  • a good source of protein

So that’s why for this Healthy Chocolate Smoothie recipe I’ve added; nut butter (for fat), oats (for carbs) and milk (for protein). The dates are for sweetness and the other ingredients are for flavour or texture.

Two chocolate smoothies that keep you full in jars on a kitchen bench
Smoothies don’t really keep me full for long. Except for this one! Try my healthy chocolate smoothie for breakfast and see. You find more delicious recipes in my app Back to Basics. Image: Lyndi Cohen

There is a difference between a ‘snack smoothie’ and a ‘meal smoothie.

One of the reasons you may not feel full after smoothies are that you are having ‘snack smoothies’ by mistake – when you really need a ‘meal smoothie’.

Snack smoothies are not intended to keep you full for hours. They are simply there to tie you over for a couple of hours, at most.

If you want to feel full for a while, you need to look for ‘meal smoothies’.

The main difference is that a snack smoothie is lighter on ‘extras’ and a meal smoothie is loaded.

How many ‘extras’ should I be adding to my smoothies? 

It depends on how hungry you are and when your next meal is planned. If you’re not planning to eat for a while (3-4 hours), go for a ‘meal smoothie’. If it’s only 1-2 hours before eating again, choose a ‘snack smoothie’.

A ‘meal smoothie’ might have 2-4 ‘extras’, plus a flavour boost. e.g. Oats, milk, avocado, nut butter for ‘extras’ (and dates or cinnamon for flavour).

A snack smoothie might have 1-2 ‘extras’ plus a little flavour boost. e.g. milk and a banana for ‘extras’ (and 1 tbs honey and vanilla for flavour).

Here are some examples of ‘extras’:

Fat: 1/4 avocado, 1 tbsp nut butter, 2 tbsp tahini, 2 tbsp chia seeds, pumpkin or flaxseeds, 1/4 cup coconut milk.

Carbs: 1/3 cup oats, 1 piece of fruit, 1 cup of berries or 1/2 banana, a cup of milk, 1/2 cup of yoghurt.

Protein: A handful of nuts, a cup of milk, 1/2 cup of yoghurt, a scoop of protein powder (although, here are my thoughts on protein powders), 50g silken tofu, 2 tbsp hemp seeds (if that’s your thing).

Ideally, you want one of each group to get a balanced meal – but that’s up to you. We’re all so different.

Two women on an outdoor table with green and purple smoothies that keep you full
Still hungry after drinking smoothie goodies? Maybe you need a ‘meal smoothie’ instead of a ‘snack smoothie’. Image: Unsplash

Can I add too many extras to my smoothies?

There is a point when too many extras become too many. The aim is to eat what your body needs, not more or less. Goldilocks was onto something…

For example, I don’t think you need to add 1/2 an avocado (which would be two ‘extras’) to a smoothie when 1/4 will fill you up just fine.

If you stick to 1/4 (which is one serve of healthy fats), it means you can use another ingredient to add more flavour, protein or fibre instead of using up all your ‘extras’ on one ingredient and one group of nutrients.

The more types of ingredients you use, the more varied the nutrients – and this nutrient variety is essential.

What to do if smoothies don’t leave you feeling full…

You might want to try a smoothie bowl instead. These are thick ‘meal smoothies’. And they have toppings like muesli, nuts, seeds, coconut or fruit adding another ‘extra’.

PLUS, you have to eat a smoothie bowl with a spoon so they take much longer so that by the time you’ve finished, you might feel full. Eat too quickly and your body doesn’t have enough time to do this.

Be mindful of portion sizes though. Use the ‘meal smoothie’ formula above to work out the extras. I would recommend including 3 extras in the blender and then add one more extra on top for crunch (=4 extras).

You can also try ‘meal smoothies’ like this Chocolate Smoothie recipe. And if it still doesn’t keep you feel, then… now you know. Smoothies aren’t right for you.

Ultimately, the healthiest food for you is the food that makes you feel good. Don’t go hungry because you like the idea of being a smoothie drinker. Eat food for breakfast instead, like this delicious 5-minute breakfast or this overnight oats!

 A smoothie bowl often as 'extras' on top. Eating it with a spoon can help you feel full. A smoothie bowl often as ‘extras’ on top. Eating it with a spoon can help you feel full.

Smoothie Q&A

Which milk is best to use in a smoothie:

I drink dairy milk because it’s always agreed with me and I love it for its health benefits (hello calcium for my bones, protein for muscles). Full fat milk will also keep you feeling than skim milk. Personally, I love reduced fat because I find full fat too rich. Use what you like.

If you’re vegan or don’t tolerate or enjoy dairy milk, use your favourite milk alternative. Personally, I like oat milk, nutritionally and taste-wise. But moral of the story is; do what feels good for your body, not what’s trendy or what you think you should do.

Note: Nut milks like almond tend to have far fewer calories, protein and fat than dairy milk so if you use nut milk instead of cow’s milk, this could be another reason why you don’t feel full after smoothies.

How do I get a thick smoothie bowl?

Here’s how to make a thick smoothie bowl: Add 1/2 – 1 cup of frozen ingredients to your blender and blend with the other smoothie ingredients. This could be regular ice cubes, frozen milk (great if you don’t make it through the whole milk bottle!), or even frozen coffee, if that’s what you fancy.

You find more free recipes for smoothie bowls and smoothies that keep you full on my website.
Now that you know how to make a thick smoothie bowl, check out this delicious Summer Mango Smoothie Bowl recipe from my app Back to Basics! Image: Lyndi Cohen

I don’t like bananas. What can I add instead of banana to my smoothies?

Even though I love bananas and eat them often, I also know some people don’t love bananas.

So if you like smoothies without banana, use 1/4 of an avocado instead, and this gives it delicious healthy fats and makes it creamy. You don’t even taste the avocado.

But what can I use if avocados are too expensive to put in my smoothie?

If you don’t like banana (and avocados are too expensive), another option is to freeze zucchini chunks. Hear me out!

I know it sounds ridiculous but you can’t taste the zucchini and it’ll give you another serve of veg, without a high price tag. Don’t knock it till you try it. Use about 1/2 cup of zucchini chunks in a recipe that calls for 1/4 avo or 1/2 banana.

Can I use dried dates in smoothies?

Medjool dates can be expensive. I just use dried, pitted dates in my smoothies (i.e. the ones that come in a bag as they are much cheaper and easier to find). Use Medjool dates if you have them otherwise, it’s all good to use dried dates in most recipes.

Tip: If you have time, soak your dried dates in hot water for 5 minutes before using to make them plump again. Just drain them before using and they’ll be pretty close to the fresh Medjool dates.

Cacao is expensive. What can I use instead of cacao in my smoothie?

If you can’t afford (or find) cacao, just use cocoa powder. It’s got slightly fewer nutrients but it’s not a big deal. The real win is you still get to enjoy this healthy breakfast smoothie. #keepitreal

If you’re looking for more deliciously simple and satisfying recipes for feel good smoothies, check out my health App Back to Basics. You can try it free for 7-days.

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