The information included in Dear Stephanie posts is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation, or if you have any questions regarding conception, pregnancy, or your prenatal treatment plan. Have a question for Steph? Click here to e-mail her.
Making a low-sugar smoothie
Dear Steph, I’m pregnant and can’t stand to eat anything savory in the morning. I’ve heard that smoothies are okay during a #PregnantWhole30, but I want to make sure I’m still getting good nutrition. How can I create a healthy, low-sugar smoothie? – Corey G., Whole30’s Pregnancy Program Member
Our team has occasionally mentioned smoothies as an option for those who would like to do a Whole30, but are also battling morning sickness or food aversions. Our stance is that while smoothies are not recommended during a Whole30, they might be a good option for someone who is suffering from morning sickness and is looking for a palatable source of nutrition during their Whole30.
Also, we don’t expect you to Whole30 throughout your entire pregnancy (or maybe at all). In that case, it’s up to you to decide how smoothies fit into your food freedom. After all, they can be a convenient option; throw some greens, fruit, liquid, healthy fat, and collagen peptides in a blender and you’re done. There’s minimal clean-up and prep work involved. Simple, right? However, while the concept is simple, there are a few considerations we’d like to share before you start sipping.
Not Your Average Smoothie
When you’re following a Whole30, smoothies are technically compliant, but discouraged because food that you drink sends different satiety signals to your brain than food that you chew. If you’re always needing a mid-morning snack break after your smoothie, that kind of defeats the convenience factor. I’ll address how to solve this issue later on in this post.
Another major consideration is sugar content. Consider this: a banana, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries, a handful of spinach, and 1 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt sounds like a healthy way to start the morning, right?
But wait a minute—even though the sugar is coming from whole food sources and contains fiber, this smoothie contains about 45 grams (or 11 teaspoons!) of sugar. For reference, one Twinkie contains about 18 grams of sugar. My recommendation is that you avoid these fruit-heavy smoothies because they can result in unstable energy, mood, and cravings throughout the day.
So, what does a healthy low-sugar smoothie look like? Think mini-meal. Just as you would design a Whole30 meal based on the Meal Planning Template, you want your smoothie to contain a source of protein, low-glycemic fruits and/or veggies, and healthy fat.
Creating your Healthy Smoothie
Here are a few options to mix and match to create your own healthy low-sugar smoothie. I’ve given you my suggestions for amounts in each category; experiment with combinations that follow these guidelines until you find a blend you love.
Base Liquid (1-1.5 cups):
- Unsweetened Whole30-compliant nutmilk, such as New Barn
- Filtered water
- Canned coconut milk
- Brewed tea
- High-quality bone broth, such as Kettle and Fire
Bone broth in a smoothie? Why, yes! Don’t knock it until you try it. Use chicken broth that doesn’t contain a ton of added spices.
Protein (½-1 serving):
- Collagen peptides (I like Bubs collagen peptides)
- 100% unsweetened egg white protein powder
- 100% unsweetened pea protein powder
Not into protein powder or collagen peptides? You could also pair your smoothie with a “side” of easy protein like hard-boiled eggs, compliant sausage or deli meat (heated to steaming, if you’re pregnant), or a meat stick from Chomps or The New Primal.
Fat (1 serving, minimum):
- Seeds (chia, hemp, pumpkin, ground flaxseed, etc.)
- Nut, seed, or coconut butter
- Unsweetened coconut flakes
Fruit (1 Cup, max):
- Berries, your best option for a lower sugar smoothie
- Apple, Pear, Peach (fresh or frozen)
- Pineapple, Mango (stick to 1/2 cup as these are higher in sugar)
- Acai Puree (make sure it’s unsweetened)
- Banana (frozen provides a creamy texture)
Veggie (1 Cup, minimum):
- Leafy greens
- Mashed pumpkin
- Mashed sweet potato
- Cauliflower rice
Boosts (Optional, to taste):
- Chai seasoning, unsweetened
- Celtic sea salt/Himalayan pink salt
- Camu Camu powder (for vitamin C)
Recipes from our Member Mamas
Need more inspiration? Here are a few options from some mamas in our Facebook group:
Good Morning, Get Moving Smoothie (From Lindsay R.)
makes 2-3 servings
1 banana (or 2 c. frozen mixed berries)
2 heaping handfuls of spinach
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
2 Cups unsweetened almond milk
2 scoops collagen powder
(Optional: 1 cup ice cubes)
Turmeric Cinnamon Apple Smoothie (From Meghan M.)
3/4 cup canned coconut milk
1/2 large apple
2 Cups spinach
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
1 scoop collagen peptides
Blueberry Chiller (From Megan D.)
1 cup unsweetened nut milk
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup kale
2 Tbsp nut butter
2 Tbsp collagen peptides
Ice cubes (optional)
Stephanie Greunke is Whole30’s Dietitian and Education Manager. Stephanie has a master’s degree in nutrition and specializes in women’s health. She is also certified in perinatal mental health (PMH-C), is a certified personal trainer (CPT) and a prenatal and postnatal corrective exercise specialist. You can find Stephanie on Instagram,@stephgreunke, and visit her web-based private practice, Stephgreunke.com.
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