Breakfast smoothies: apparently I'm doing it wrong
January 21, 2010 9:08 AM   Subscribe

I started making smoothies recently with about 200g frozen fruit, 1.5 cups of 1% milk, and a scoop of whey protein powder. I wedge some kale in when I have it, but I happened to be out this week. This makes about as much smoothie as I can comfortably consume. Normally if I eat breakfast (lentils or eggs or oatmeal or cereal or toast and jam or whatever) around 7 or 7:30, I'm good until lunch at 12 or 1 or even later, but since I switched to smoothies, I'm finding that I'm ludicrously hungry by 10am. As in "I would cheerfully kill you for the last quarter of your sandwich" hungry. WTF? Why is this and how do I fix it?

-- Originally I thought it this was a glycemic index/sugar spike/crash issue, which is how I ended up adding the milk and protein powder instead of just fruit and water. That didn't fix the problem. (It also doesn't happen if I just gorge myself on clementines for breakfast, so.)

-- I drink plenty of water, so I don't think that's the issue.

-- Maybe I'm mistaking normal digestion feelings for stupid hunger and I'm just not used to that much protein at once?

Is there something I should be adding to my smoothies that I'm not? (Yogurt?) Do I just need to give up on the smoothies and go back to the tried and true?

Any ideas, MeFi? Is there a way for me to have my delicious smoothies without eyeing my labmates like we're in the experimental physicist Donner party?

Note: I'm not looking for general filling breakfast ideas -- I have plenty of those. I just want to know if I'm going about it wrong re: smoothies specifically.
posted by dorque to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Smoothies left me super hungry an hour later until I started adding 1) yogurt (more protein!) and 2) psyllium husk (water-soluble fiber that expands in your gut, good for both regularity and bonus smoothie satiation-factor). I don't use milk or other liquid, just a handful of ice with the water and fruit.

Warning: Consume anything containing psyllium husk immediately, or it will turn into jello on you.
posted by peachfuzz at 9:14 AM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

ugh, with the yogurt and fruit, of course.
posted by peachfuzz at 9:15 AM on January 21, 2010

Yogurt would probably help some, it will add some more bulk, but you're not going to be full for much longer than you would if you didn't add it... And if you're trying to reduce your carb/sugar intake, adding yogurt will kill that fast, because it's loaded with sugar. The issue is there just isn't enough substance to the smoothie to keep you feeling full. I found that when I used to do this yogurt did help instead of just ice/fruit/milk/whey. Eventually I got really sick of them and haven't approached a smoothie in years.
posted by ganzhimself at 9:19 AM on January 21, 2010

I do the psyllium too, and I don't have a problem with satiety. It's easy and unnoticeable in a smoothie.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:24 AM on January 21, 2010

adding yogurt will kill that fast, because it's loaded with sugar.

i think you mean store-bought flavored yogurt here? yogurt, at its base formulation is just milk and the friendly bacteria who make it go.
posted by patricking at 9:25 AM on January 21, 2010 [5 favorites]

Think about it... if you eat a bunch of lentils or eggs or whatever your body is going to spend a good deal of time digesting that food, and the energy you get from it will be spread out over a couple of hours.

The reason people drink protein shakes is that the protein is basically available immediately to your body, which you want after you work out, but it will not keep you "full" nearly as long.

Also, milk is also very easily digestible, another reason bodybuilders like lots of milk.
posted by outsider at 9:26 AM on January 21, 2010

Best answer: That's a fairly high protein breakfast, but it's also fairly high in carbs, about 65 grams. A cup of oatmeal has only about 25 grams of carbohydrates, and two slices of whole wheat toast and a couple of teaspoons of jam have about 30 grams. So while the overall GI score and protein balance may seem OK, that's still a lot of carbs to dump on your system at once if you're one of those people, like me, who find that eating carbs generally makes you more hungry. I have found that if I avoid carb heavy food like bread, rice and pasta during the week, getting a moderate amount of carbs from dairy, lentils, veggies and a little fruit, I just don't feel hungry. In fact, I sometimes have to remind myself to keep eating more during the day. (Heading off a derail: no ketosis here, and I have pasta and dim sum on the weekends, because life should not be joyless.)

Another possibility is that because you're drinking a lot of fairly sweet liquid for breakfast, with little fiber or fat to make you feel satiated, you're left feeling psychologically hungry for more sweets. What would happen if you were to take in about the same volume of something savoury instead of sweet, like a roasted red pepper/tomato soup with some olive oil?
posted by maudlin at 9:30 AM on January 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

i think you mean store-bought flavored yogurt here? yogurt, at its base formulation is just milk and the friendly bacteria who make it go.

Yes and no... Even regular "plain" yogurt is loaded with sugar. Lactose is technically a sugar. As a diabetic I just avoid the stuff, because "plain" yogurt tastes disgusting, and even with the added flavor/sugar it's still not that appetizing. A breakfast like this would now make my blood glucose level shoot through the roof.
posted by ganzhimself at 9:37 AM on January 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

I don't claim to have a scientific answer, but I've noticed exactly the same thing as you. For me it seems to boil down to solids vs liquids: a breakfast with solids, even a relatively light one, will hold me longer than a liquid-only breakfast (ie, smoothie), even if it's relatively filling. I've always suspected it's because solids are harder to digest.
posted by adamrice at 9:43 AM on January 21, 2010

Best answer: I think not enough carbs and fats in the meal.

all the carbs in your smoothie are from sugar, which is fast digesting. The fact that you have almost no fat or fiber in your shake compounds the problem. Also, eggs are a slow digesting protein, and whey protein is the fastest.

the typical meals you were eating before like oatmeal or eggs and toast both have a bunch of fiber and slow digesting complex carbohydrates (in the case of the oatmeal) or lots of fat (any meal with eggs), so you're basically eating the complete opposite right now.

Basically, you're drinking a post-workout shake, which is designed to be fully absorbed within 30-40 minutes following a workout. Normally, you would eat a full meat after a post-workout shake, so what you're experiencing is totally normal.

either grind up some oats and use full fat milk in there, or have some peanut butter and whole wheat toast or oatmeal with that shake, you should definitely see a change. Or just eat anything with a lot of fiber with that shake if you're trying to cut down on calories.
posted by I like to eat meat at 9:46 AM on January 21, 2010

Best answer: This isn't unusual. One of the ways that your body knows whether it's full or not is that it receives signals from stretch receptors in the gut. If you're eating a liquid diet, with no bulk, it's passing quickly through your system, not stretching the gut very much, and you'll feel hungry again sooner.

Perhaps you can eat something with your smoothie, like a small bagel, some toast, or an apple? Anything that gets some solids (especially indigestable cellulose) into your system will probably help you last longer.
posted by chrisamiller at 10:06 AM on January 21, 2010

Response by poster: It sounds like I may be asking my smoothies to be something they are not destined to be. Oh well! I will give psyllium a try, but I may end up just going back to lentils, and chalk up the clementines-don't-trigger-this factor to a healthy dose of confirmation bias.

Thanks for the input, folks!
posted by dorque at 10:19 AM on January 21, 2010

Milk has a surprising amount of sugar in it in the form of lactose. This 1918(!) paper finds cow's milk is about 4.5% lactose, so your 1.5c milk has about 16g of naturally occuring sugar in it. That's in addition to, say, 18g naturally occuring sugar in 200g frozen strawberries. (Using lactose-free milk probably wouldn't work either, as the lactose has only been broken down into galactose and glucose, which are different types of sugar.)

yogurt, at its base formulation is just milk and the friendly bacteria who make it go.

See above. The bacteria use some of the sugar as an energy source, but I believe it's a relatively small percentage of the total, so even plain yogurt with no added sugar (just milk + bacteria) is still fairly high in naturally occuring sugar.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:20 AM on January 21, 2010

What I'm seeing here is you don't have much fat in this plan. The cardinal rule I figured out on my own about 15 years ago:
Carbs for breakfast - Ravenous at noon
Fat for breakfast - No appetite at noon
Protein for breakfast - No real effect here

So I'd work on balancing out the fat-carbs-protein here. Fat has traditionally had a bad rep but it's important (if you get the right fats/oils) for good health and moderating appetite.
posted by crapmatic at 10:30 AM on January 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

I add raw nuts and seeds to my breakfast smoothie (fats and proteins).
posted by one at 10:31 AM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Try switching your Whey protein to a protein-powder mix with casein in it. Casein protein takes longer digest than Whey and will keep you full for longer. I recommend AtLarge's Nitrean or BioTest's Metabolic Drive. They are a little bit more expensive but they taste great and and mix like yogurt.
posted by adirondack at 10:31 AM on January 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've found that CVS's house brand sugarless menthol cough drops are a great appetite supressant. One, or at most two, have stopped my compulsive snacking after dinner.
posted by KRS at 10:44 AM on January 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could also switch to higher-fat milk - I forgot to consider that. I've used whole and 2% - I find whole a little too much, most of the time. Or you could just add a teaspoon of olive oil to the shake.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:55 AM on January 21, 2010

Add some fat.

Fat, for me is the #1 determinant of the satiety of a meal. Dietary fiber will help to some extent as it's converted by your intestinal bacteria to a short chain saturated fatty acid (butyric acid).
posted by zentrification at 11:29 AM on January 21, 2010

Seconding the Casein protein; BSN Lean Dessert is a mix of whey and casein, and is designed to keep you fuller longer.

I also add some Benefiber and a teaspoon of Safflower oil (both unnoticeable). There is some research to suggest Safflower oil helps in abdominal fat loss & blood sugar issues.

You may also want to add your smoothie recipe to The Daily Plate, so you can get a breakdown of the protein/fiber/carbs/calories you're actually getting.
posted by for_serious at 11:52 AM on January 21, 2010

Adding Udo's Oil or even a tbsp of organic, unrefined coconut oil, to my smoothies definitely helps with satiety. I prefer Udo's to coconut oil because it's tasteless, but makes the smoothie noticeably creamier and more delicious. You can also try putting in 1/2 an avocado (it's tasteless with all that fruit). I also like to add chia seeds sometimes. So nutritious and filling, and they're especially great for those wanting plant derived protein.
posted by cm young at 6:41 PM on January 21, 2010

I agree with others that you should add some fat. I often add unroasted nuts (usually cashews or almonds) or unroasted nut butter to my smoothies (I find that roasted nuts make it taste like nut-shake, but the unroasted ones just make it creamy). I have a cheap blender, but the nuts blend just fine if there is enough liquid. I also add a tbsp of flax seed. This adds fiber and fat and it's healthy.

I like to eat meat: The fact that you have almost no fat or fiber in your shake compounds the problem.
200 grams of frozen berries are about 6 grams fiber. That's equivalent to 1,5 cup cooked oatmeal.
posted by davar at 2:17 AM on January 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes and no... Even regular "plain" yogurt is loaded with sugar. Lactose is technically a sugar.

i did not know this! interesting.

i was actually responding to the phrase "loaded with sugar," i think. it's the same phrase lifestyle reporters use to scare you off the junk food.
posted by patricking at 10:24 AM on January 22, 2010

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