Despite the endless cycle of weight-loss fads, the original recipe for good health and shedding excess weight remains the same: Eat well and exercise regularly. If smoothies are a part of your weight-loss regimen, make sure they are as healthy as possible, tailor the rest of your diet so smoothies are not simply piling on additional calories and continue to exercise regularly.

Know What’s in Your Smoothie

Going to a smoothie shop and grabbing a smoothie could do you more harm than good if you don’t check what’s inside the beverage. Commercial smoothies often contain high-fat milk or ice cream and a lot of added sugar. The calorie content of these smoothies can be in the high hundreds, not to mention the portion sizes are usually double or triple an appropriate serving size. The best solution is to buy a smoothie where you can see all the ingredients upfront. Alternatively, you can make it yourself.

Curb Your Regular Diet

If you’re drinking smoothies between complete meals, limit the calorie content to snack proportions. The National Institutes of Health recommends snacks be about 100 calories. Women age 14 to 50 who are somewhat active should consume about 2,000 calories per day. Men in the same category should eat approximately 2,400 to 2,800 calories per day. People who are trying to lose weight should lower their overall caloric intake rather than simply packing on more calories from smoothies. Always consult a health professional before considering a meal-replacement diet.

Create a Balance

Just drinking a smoothie won’t help you lose weight; you still have to change your lifestyle. Consider drinking a healthy smoothie early in the morning to rev up your metabolism, and ensure you eat less throughout the day. Remember to exercise because to lose weight, you must expend more calories than you take in. In an update by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association published in a 2007 edition of “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise,” researchers recommended 30 minutes of moderate-intensity endurance exercise five days a week for weight maintenance. This applies to people age 18 to 65. The updated recommendations note that exceeding minimum exercise recommendations is your best bet for losing weight.

Best Smoothie Ingredients

Healthy smoothies should contain the things your body really needs. Fruits are packed with necessary vitamins, minerals and fiber. A tablespoon of peanut butter adds protein, as do soy products. Add leafy vegetables to include some beneficial omega-3 fats. These foods will boost energy, regulate your digestive system and spur your metabolism, which often decreases during weight loss. Go for low-fat or nonfat yogurt or milk, add ice instead of ice cream or sorbet, and choose fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables with no added sugar.