Smoothies are an excellent meal substitute (and not just for vegetarians).

Spinach Smoothie, originally uploaded by phatfreemiguel.

Every morning and at least three to four nights a week, I opt for a smoothie instead of a solid food meal. There are a number of reasons why this makes a lot of sense:

First, the nutritional value of the ingredients (fruits or vegetables) stay intact. You may not realize it, but the chemical changes caused by cooking robs these foods of valuable vitamins.

Second, because the ingredients have been liquified, your body absorbs all the nutrition extremely efficiently, while expending very little energy in the digestion process. When you eat solid food, your digestive system goes into overdrive to liquify the food in order for your body to digest it. That process burns a lot of energy — often, more energy than is absorbed from the food in the first place. And meat is the hardest to digest of all, with solid pieces of it sitting in your system for weeks. Think about that the next time you feel tired after a heavy meal.

Third, smoothies are really convenient. Preparing one takes minutes and very little expertise. Some fruits and vegetables may require some chopping but that’s still less work than cooking and washing the dishes after. You just toss everything into a blender and hit the switch. (And when the blender is empty, fill it with water and run it again. It almost cleans itself!)

With the right ingredients, a couple of smoothies are as filling as a full meal. Here’s one of my favorites (introduced to me by my martial arts teacher):

Liquid base: fresh coconut water (make sure it comes from a real young coconut, not out of a bottle or can)

Ingredients: 

  • Baby spinach
  • Baby carrots
  • Wheatgrass
  • Spirulina
  • Raisins
  • Goji berries
  • Agave Honey

This is what I had for dinner tonight and I’m pretty stuffed.

Now if you can’t imagine one of these smoothies satisfying your hunger enough to be a full meal substitute, it doesn’t have to completely replace your meal. Think of it as an alternative to a salad: tasty, loaded with nutrition and without any fat. Give it a try!

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