I was just creating my meal plan for next week (if you don’t do this, you should, here’s how) and realized I forgot to add smoothies to my list for last week. Which means I haven’t had any smoothies this week, which also means I didn’t as easily or readily get my daily nutrients in.

Simply put, this is why I love smoothies. They pack a ton of nutrients into an easy to consume package.

To be clear, I do not use them as a meal replacement. I have smoothies right along with my regular meals, and usually, consume one as a snack between lunch and dinner. Or if I’m being honest, sometimes for breakfast when I’m running really behind (it happens). I’ve been consuming a lot of smoothies lately because I just haven’t been into salads – which I normally love during the summer. But in DC, it’s been cold and wet and no part of me wants to sit down with a big ass salad.

This is where smoothies come in. They pack a serious nutritional punch. I load them up with foods containing folate, antioxidants, healthy fats, fiber, and protein. Sure, I could eat these foods as a solid meal, but consuming them in smoothies form is just so damn easy.

Smoothies are basically a whole food multivitamin.

Here’s what I put in my smoothie:

  • kefir or coconut water as the base – both have more nutrition than just water
  • berries – usually raspberry because I love the taste and they’re highest in fiber but I often use mixed berries
  • greens – a handful of kale, spinach or a bag of mixed organic greens
  • avocado – a healthy fat and they’re high in fiber
  • grass-fed protein powder and collagen – I often use both, collagen is great for gut lining, joints, cartilage, skin, hair, and nails
  • egg yolk – egg yolks are incredibly nutrient dense and rich in healthy fats – just make sure to use eggs from a pastured, organic source that’s preferably local

The above recipe has roughly:

  • 23 grams of fiber
  • 100 grams of vitamin C
  • 188 mcg of folate
  • 187 grams of choline
  • 32 grams of protein
  • as well as B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, potassium, selenium, vitamin K, etc.

This smoothie is low in sugar and incredibly high in nutrients. It’s inexpensive and simple to make. It provides the body with a serious dose of nutrition and it’s also easily digestible and the nutrients are bioavailable. None of these things can be said about meal replacement shakes.

So here’s why I hate meal replacement shakes.

First, they’re expensive. Much more expensive than they should be (especially considering the majority of them are little more than hype). Some of these meal replacements cost hundreds of dollars a month. You know how many smoothies you could make with that?! Enough for your whole dang neighborhood. Meal replacement companies convince people that their shakes cost so much because they somehow provide nutrition that you wouldn’t be able to obtain elsewhere. That these magical powders (usually white, processed junk) contain so many nutrients that they just have to charge an exorbitant amount.

In reality, it’s overpriced bullsh*t. I call ’em like I see ’em.

Second, they’re actually not very nutritious. Nothing replaces real, whole foods. Nothing. And definitely not some overly-processed powder that was made in a lab. One of the biggest issues with these products is that they contain man-made, synthetic vitamins. Folic acid and folate are not the same, people!

For example, folic acid is the synthetic version of folate. Folate is found in food, folic acid is created in a lab to mimic folate. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they are very different things. Why does this matter? Because folic acid is not only not absorbed by the body and utilized in the same way as folate, it has actually been linked to incredibly serious health conditions, including cancer.

“…in the Journal of the American Medical Association — suggesting that all the extra folic acid might increase your odds of developing cancer. “The more we learn about folic acid, the more it’s clear that giving it to everyone has very real risks,” says folic acid researcher David Smith, Ph.D., a professor of pharmacology at the University of Oxford in England.” Source

Another study out of Chile linked folic acid supplementation with an increased risk of colon cancer.

And yet another study out of Norway linked folic acid supplementation with a 21% increase in lung cancer.

“Folic acid and B12 supplementation [were] associated with a 21% increased risk for cancer, a 38% increased risk for dying from the disease, and an 18% increase in deaths from all causes.” Source

In case you’re still on the fence, here’s yet another source for ya.

This is just the case with one synthesized vitamin. Now consider that these meal replacement shakes synthesize majority of the vitamins they’re using. Most of these companies aren’t obtaining the vitamins and minerals from food – that would be too expensive. But it’s cheap to create them in a lab and sell them to people while convincing them it’s the best nutrition available. Marketing at its finest (and maybe most deceptive).

Third, of course, replacing one to two meals a day with meal replacement shakes will help people lose weight. But Why I Love Smoothies But Hate Meal Replacement Shakes - smoothies are nutrient dense and affordable. Meal replacements are expensive and synthetic.there are two humungous caveats to that weight loss:

  1. This is not healthy weight loss. This is muscle loss. People who smoke meth lose weight too. Does that mean meth is healthy? Weight loss is not what we should judge the validity of these meal replacements on. Let’s judge them on their actual ingredients (which almost always are terrible).
  2. You will gain that weight back. No one can maintain eating a meal replacement shake for multiple meals a day for years on end. It’s not sustainable. And when you’re over it – that weight is going to come back something fierce. Because you were not only not taking care of your body during that time, you weren’t educating yourself on the proper foods to fuel healthy, sustained weight loss. You were drinking a shake full of synthetic, processed, industrialized ingredients.

This is not real, health-promoting, life-giving food. Let’s be real. This is a powder that contains a whole host of sketchy ingredients. It is not the answer to your problems. This is not a magic pill. It is not the secret to weight loss. The secret to weight loss is real, healthy, unprocessed food. It’s nourishing yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. This includes exercise. It’s about reducing stress and having fun. It’s sex and friendship. This about living your life well and have self-respect. Respect yourself enough to give your body real food, not meal replacement shakes.