Which Smoothie Add-Ins Do You Really Need?
Expert advice on how to (smartly) supercharge your smoothie.
Experts are quick to encourage getting the grand majority of your nutrients from actual food. But actually getting all those nutrients in and eating a healthy, balanced diet—the kind you’ll find infographics on all over Pinterest—is easier said than done.
So if getting nutrients in via a morning smoothie is all you can manage, it might not be ideal, but it’s definitely better than nothing. Before you go all in on powders that promise clearer skin, better sleep, or more energy, here’s a look at what the experts recommend:
“It’s so easy to get carried away with supplements, especially powders,” nutritionist Brooke Alpert warns. “The main focus should always be to make sure you’re making smart choices foodwise, then supplement anywhere you think you might need some extra support. So your smoothie should be loaded with tons of greens, a small amount of fruit for sweetness, but not too much sugar, plus a protein source either from nut butter or a supplement. Anything else should be considered extra support,” she advises.
“Try to be in tune with your body,” Jules Miller, founder of the new and very chic wellness company The Nue Co., says. “Feeling exhausted every morning isn’t normal. Living off of coffee rather than food isn’t normal. Don’t take supplements because you feel you should; instead, evaluate how your body actually feels, and research what changes you can make to your lifestyle to address those issues.”
Most of us could use some of that “extra support” in at least one area or another, so once you’ve homed in on what that is for you, here’s the supplement shopping list your smoothie needs for six common problems supplements might be able to help you tackle:
I’M ALWAYS TIRED
When getting more sleep is out of the question, there are a few expert-approved items you can add to your smoothie. Matcha, in case you haven’t noticed, is having a moment—and it’s with good reason. Green tea’s potent sibling is known for creating an “alert calm.” It can contain as much caffeine as a cup of coffee but spares drinkers the jitters of caffeine via coffee. Another perk? It’s packed with antioxidants to help protect the body from free radicals. For a caffeine-free energy boost, add a tablespoon of Blackstrap Molasses. Molasses is a rich source of “highly bioavailable iron” (which means it’s readily absorbed by our bodies). Plus, it blends really well with “the milk of your choice, pumpkin pie spice, and a frozen banana,” Dr. Tierarona Low Dog, MD. & Chief Medical Officer of Well & Being Spa, says.
I’M BREAKING OUT
Ingestible collagen is a go-to for breakouts because it works to repair and strengthen the skin. Alpert recommends Reserveage’s Collagen Replenish Powder, which has no taste or smell and blends easily into the rest of your smoothie ingredients. Traci Mitchell, Marketing Director at Vital Proteins and MS in Health and Nutrition, explains, “Collagen is an excellent source of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. These amino acids help improve the elasticity, tone, and texture of skin, and they’re also known to help to increase circulation and foster a healthy immune response.” Plus—collagen powders are tasteless, odorless, and blend smoothly without affecting the consistency of your smoothie!
I’M FEELING DOWN
According to wellness guru and founder of Moon Juice Amanda Chantal Bacon, Mucuna Pruriens is the go-to for when you just need a pick-me-up. It provides a bioavailable source of L-dopa, an amino acid that becomes the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain (dopamine helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers). “This bean deftly elevates mood, creativity, libido, and sleep patterns, while soothing the nervous system,” she explains. Plus, it tastes like caramel!
I CAN’T FOCUS
Bacopa has long been used to help promote concentration—a use that is “now being confirmed by modern science for those struggling with attention or focus,” Dr. Low Dog says. As with anything on this list, it’s key to buy from a reputable supplier—Dr. Low Dog likes Banyan Botanicals’ offerings. All you need is a 1⁄2 teaspoon.
I CAN’T SLEEP
There’s one key supplement the experts agree on: Magnesium, a mineral most of us are sorely lacking in our diets. “Nothing sets the tone better for a good night’s sleep like high-quality magnesium. This mineral is a natural relaxant and helps to basically chill out your mind and body, preparing you for better sleep,” Alpert says. Her favorite is Natural Calm Magnesium.
I’M SO STRESSED
Adaptogens—a unique group of herbs that help manage the body’s response to stress—are increasingly popular. Ashwagandha is a key choice for stress management. According to the co-founders of downtown natural beauty spot CAP, Kerrilynn Pamer and Cindy DiPrima, this herb “adapts itself to your body’s rhythm. It supports hormone balance, emotional balance, and brain function. This herb is particularly useful for stress relief and an overall sense of well-being.”
[Editor’s Note: As always, we are not, nor do we pretend to be, actual medical doctors. Please consult with a professional before embarking on any kind of new health journey.]