Update 2/21/20. Running this website, you could probably guess that I watch a LOT of infomercials. Out of all of them, I have to admit, that my favorite is the Nutribullet infomercial. Why? Because it makes me want to eat better! Admit it—who doesn’t want to eat more fruits and veggies after watching everything that little blender can do? Having said that, while I was shopping at Bed Bath and Beyond recently, I saw something interesting―a Nutribullet supplement called “Superfood Fat Burning Boost.” The package said it was “Premium Quality” and that “Just one scoop per day will have you supercharge your weight loss!” Wow! I had no idea Nutribullet was in the supplement business. So I purchased this product and decided to write a review on it, in case others were as intrigued as I was.
Also, see the NutriBullet SuperFood Energy Boost review for more insights.
Fat Burning Boost Ingredients
According to the label, each package has a 30-day supply and 2 full teaspoons contain the following ingredients:
|Calories 10||% DV|
|Total Fat 0.5 g||<1%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Trans Fat 0g|
|Total Carbohydrates 2g||<1%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||4%|
%DV=daily value and is based on eating 2,000 calories per day
The label also indicates that the Fat Burning Boost supplement contains these ingredients in the following order:
- Organic cacao powder
- Organic whole chia seed
- Organic green tea powder
- Organic cinnamon powder
- Organic ginger powder
- Organic tumeric powder
The powders used in the product are vegan and organic. I called Nutribullet, who told me all of the ingredients come from the US.
Because product ingredients in the US must be listed from the most to the least, we can assume that the main ingredient in the Fat Burning Boost is organic cacao powder, and the least is turmeric.
Let's look at its ingredients next.
Its scientific name is Theobroma cacao, but we know it better as chocolate. Chocolate/cacao has some caffeine, which has a mild fat-burning effect. This is the reason why so many fat burner supplements contain caffeine. Personally, I've never really felt caffeine by itself caused much weight loss, because when I look at the research, caffeine is always combined with something else, such as ephedra or green tea.
Green Tea Powder
Green tea also contains some caffeine and is probably the reason we see green tea showing up frequently in weight loss supplements. Theoretically, it's possible that the caffeine in green tea and cacao might cause modest weight loss, but how much I'm not sure. The research on green tea and caffeine is controversial. Not all of it says it works.
Since caffeine is in both cacao and green tea, I assume there is some caffeine in the Superfood Fat Burning Boost also. But how much? Caffeine is not listed on the package, so I called Nutribullet and asked. The customer service rep likewise could not tell me how much caffeine was in the product.
I admit I could be wrong, and there may be no caffeine in this product. But, other than the caffeine in cacao and green tea, I see no good weight-loss proof for either of these ingredients.
These two ingredients—cacao and green tea—are the only ingredients in the Fat Burning Boost that, as far as I can tell, have any weight-loss evidence. The proof for each is controversial, so whether it works or not I could not say for sure. If it works, I think the effect would be small and would only be noticed in those who were also consuming fewer calories.
The Nutribullet.com website states that the Fat Burning Boost supplement is also supposed to:
- Decrease body fat
- Balance blood sugar
Let's look at these two claims separately.
Decrease Body Fat
There really is no good proof to show that the product reduces body fat. Here's why I say this:
1. As I mentioned above, the only “fat burner” ingredients in the supplement are green tea and cacao, but, as I mentioned above, their proof is not very good.
2. I see no evidence that if someone only took the supplement, it would cause her/him to decrease body fat.
3. When I searched the National Library of Medicine for “Fat Burning Boost” and “Nutribullet” and “Magic Bullet Blender,” no research showed up. This says to me that this supplement has not been tested clinically to see if it really reduces decrease body fat.
Balancing Blood Sugar
This claim may have some merit. When they say “balance blood sugar,” I take this to mean “decrease blood sugar.” Looking at the 6 ingredients in the product, I think it's possible there be an effect. Here's why I say this:
1. While chia seeds don't appear to help weight loss, they do contain fiber and fiber might help reduce blood sugar by slowing digestion. Two teaspoons of the Fat Burning Boost contain about 1 gram of fiber. That's not much, but it's possible it might contribute a little bit to helping blood sugar, just as any dietary fiber might.
2. The product also contains both cinnamon and ginger. Here is a brief summary of some of the evidence for each:
In 2009, the study titled, Effectiveness of cinnamon for lowering hemoglobin A1C in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, controlled trial, noted that in the 109 people studied, taking 1 gram (1,000 mg) of cinnamon a day for 90 days, reduced A1C levels by about 1% (0.83% to be exact), compared to people who did not use cinnamon.
This may not seem like much, but every 1 percent decrease in A1C levels decreases the risk of diabetes-related death by about 21%. That's huge.
This study used Puritan’s Pride Cinnamon 500 mg for those who are interested.
Tip. A1C refers to Hemoglobin A1C. It’s an indicator of how bad a patient’s diabetes is getting. It sounds complicated, but it basically refers to “sugar-coated hemoglobin.” Hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying molecule in red blood cells), doesn’t have much sugar coating it. As a patient’s diabetes gets worse, A1C levels increase, which means more hemoglobin is coated with sugar. By measuring A1C levels, doctors can tell how bad a patent’s diabetes is getting.
Another study, 22 healthy, non-overweight people were given a combination of cinnamon, ginger, and green tea together as well as individually. It was noted that the combination of cinnamon, ginger, and green tea reduced blood sugar after a meal better than the herbs did individually.
It's worth noting that cinnamon, green tea, and ginger are all in the Fat Burning Boost supplement. Might this study be a reason for their use in the product? Maybe. The problem, however, is that we are not told how much of these herbs are in the Boost supplement. This makes analyzing individual studies difficult.
To be fair, not all studies show cinnamon works. For example, In a review of several prior studies, titled, no significant effects of cinnamon on A1C, blood sugar levels, or triglycerides levels was seen in people with diabetes. Studies aside, if cinnamon is going to work, it would appear that it would take about 500–1,000 mg per day to have an effect.
The review of Glucator V2 has more information on cinnamon.
How much cinnamon is in the Fat Burning Boost? They don't tell us.
The label of the supplement says that “ginger, which in the right amounts, has been shown to be a metabolic activator that helps improve fat burning.” These words sound impressive but they are actually very vague. Here's why I say this:
- What are the right amounts of ginger?
- What exactly is a “metabolic activator?”
They don’t tell us.
For the record, I'm not aware of any good proof that ginger burns fat in people. In one Nutribullet YouTube video, I saw registered dietitian Sarah Lefkowitzthe (an employee of Nutribullet) say that because ginger is spicy it raises metabolism. In truth, eating ANYTHING will raise metabolism (it's called the thermic effect of food), but whether or not that translates into significant weight loss is something else.
Tip. See my review, What Weight Loss Supplements Work?
Because of the vague nature of the words Nutribullet uses, I'll discount them and just focus on why I think ginger is in the product: blood sugar lowering. Here are some of the reasons I say this.
A 2013 study titled, The effect of ginger powder supplementation on insulin resistance and glycemic indices in patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial noted that 3,000 mg (3 g) of ginger powder, given to people with diabetes for 8 weeks, improved blood sugar, insulin levels, A1C levels, and cellular inflammation more than a placebo did.
In a 2014 study titled, The effect of ginger consumption on glycemic status, lipid profile and some inflammatory markers in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus also noted that ginger improved diabetes symptoms. The amount of ginger used in this study was 1,600 mg (1.6 g) per day.
How much ginger is in the Fat Burning Boost? They don’t tell us.
This herb―like ginger ―also gets a lot of attention for being anti-inflammatory. While I'm not aware of any human research showing that turmeric lowers blood sugar levels, I did find a very interesting rat study from 2013 was turmeric appeared to cause the growth of insulin-producing cells. If the insulin-producing cells were re-grown, this might cure diabetes.
Does turmeric do the same thing in people? Right now, there is no proof either way.
For more information about turmeric, see my reviews of:
- Zyflamend (arthritis supplement)
- Protandim (life extension supplement)
- Arthri D (arthritis supplement)
Fat Burning Boost Side Effects
Based on the ingredients I see in the product, I think if people are healthy, then the Fat Burning Boost is pretty safe. When I googled “Nutribullet Fat Burning Boost side effects,” I also didn’t see much in the way of negative comments.
That said, I feel it's best to start this―and all supplements that you’ve not taken before―with less than is recommended for the first week. This should cut down on any side effects that might occur.
The package I have says to “enjoy 1–3 servings per day.” Again, I think it's best to start with only 1 serving (2 teaspoons) per day for the first week and to increase slowly to your desired amount.
I do feel that people who take medications should talk to their doctor/pharmacist before using this product. I say that because some of the ingredients might―in theory―interact with some medications. Below is a shortlist of things that I think warrant considering if you have medical issues. This list is not complete:
- Both ginger and turmeric might interact with blood thinner medications.
- Tumeric might interact with some anti-cancer drugs, so show the product to a registered dietitian or oncologist if you have cancer.
- As noted above, some of the ingredients might lower blood sugar. That means, for people who take diabetics medications, their blood sugar might go lower than expected.
- If the product does contain caffeine, it may be wise to not use it close to bedtime.
Let me be clear: I have no evidence the supplement does any of this. I’m taking a guess based on what I know. I'd rather say it than not say it, because we are all different and I never know who reads my words.
Who Makes the NutriBullet?
Nutribullet blenders are a product of Nutribullet LLC which is located at PO Box 4575, Pacomia, CA 91333-4575. According to the Better Business Bureau file, they give Nutribullet LLC a rating of “A-” as of 3/12/14.
The contact number for the company listed with the BBB is 855-446-8874. The package of the Fat Burning Boost supplement lists a different contact number of 855-346-8874.
It's noteworthy that NutriBullet LLC is really owned by another company called Capital Brands LLC. This is a marketing company. Its website lists several other brands they promote, such as Youthology and Back to Life.
Capital Brands lists an address of PO Box 4564, Pacoima, CA 91333-4564
They also list a contact number of 310-996-7200.
Who Is David Wolfe?
David Wolfe is the pitchman you may have seen in the Nutribullet infomercials. Watching the infomercial, I remember hearing him saying that his parents were both doctors. On his website, davidwolfe.com, it says he has “over 20 years of dedicated experience and understanding of the inner workings of the human body,” but it does not list any college degrees or formal education in nutrition, medicine, or science. He may have them but they are not listed.
Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing. I've seen him so many times on TV that I became curious. If anyone knows more about him, other than what's on his website, please leave a comment.
How Does It Taste?
When I bought the Fat Burning Boost supplement from Bed Bath and Beyond, I discovered that it doesn’t contain any directions on how to use it.
- Do you mix it with water?
- Do you add it to the smoothies (or as they call them, “NutriBlasts”)?
I had no idea. So I called Nutribullet and asked them.
They told me that the product should not be mixed with water because it probably would not taste very good. Smelling the powdered formula makes me think they are right. It has a pungent odor that some may not find pleasant.
That said, I did decide to mix it with orange juice to see what that tasted like.
I mixed the product in the Vitamix that I've owned for over 20years. I mixed 2 teaspoons of the product with 8 oz of orange juice for about 10 seconds.
I have to say, it didn’t taste too bad. There is an aftertaste which I attribute mostly to the ginger. You can definitely taste the ginger! It didn’t burn my mouth and I could definitely taste and feel the chia seeds in my mouth (the chia seeds were in my teeth for some time afterward). I'd guess that most people probably would not be able to taste the product if it were mixed with a smoothie.
One thing the Nutribullet customer service rep did say was that the product is to be used only once per day. This is different than what is seen on the product label, which says 1–3 times per day.
Does The Fat Burning Boost Work?
Based on the evidence for the ingredients, I don’t think the Fat Burning Boost contributes significantly to weight loss or fat burning. Even the Nutribullet customer service rep I spoke with said it’s best used in conjunction with eating healthy. Based on that, I don’t think people need this product. It's possible that some people might notice a reduction in their blood sugar, but that would depend on how much of its blood-sugar-lowering ingredients it contains.
What do you think?
Interesting conversation between Joe and the Dr. For me, I don’t eat a lot of greens and I don’t like breakfast so using the nutribullet does a double duty for me, I get food into me earlier and it is healthy food. But I agree that you can stuff a lot of fruit, which has lots of sugars, into your morning smoothie.
Lucky for me I don’t really like my food to be sweet so I go with the less sweet fruits and half the cup of greens. That equates to 2 cups spinach I get for breakfast. Maybe at some point in the future I will learn to actually eat my greens instead of drinking them but like the Dr said, it’s a good start.
Hi Retta, yes I agree, it is. Glad you are enjoying your NutraBullet 🙂
Ma maribel Kawatsu says
i just took it one time & my blood pressure rise up ! how about green tea & other super foods will it rise my hypertension,i bought $100 of fat burning & others ,& i cant use it anymore,u should state in your product it can cause hypertension
Ma Maribel, Do you meant the NutriBullet Fat Burning Boost supplement raised your blood pressure? I would not use fat burners as they can elevate blood pressure.
It gave me horrible headaches 2 days in a row don’t know why so. if anyone wants the package I paid 13.00 for you can have it!!!!!. would have loved to see the long term benefits… the cayenne pepper taste could not make any drink taste good even in a shake! gross!!
linda, have you ever tried to make your own shakes?
Hi! Don’t know if you still check this, but one of the main claims by the fat burner was a reduction in cravings. Can you speak to that claim at all?
Hi back! I’m not aware of any evidence that any of the ingredients reduce cravings. If you try it and it does do this, let me know.
In everything I’ve been reading I have yet to find any help in the area of Nephropathy. The kidney spilling protein into the body. I have only been researching it a short time and have found medical comments that a person that has this will eventually end up on dialysis and there is no hope after that. GREAT!
That being vented…. I talked with a gentleman who was on dialysis and said he found some supplements from India, between the supplements and a complete change in his diet he is no longer on dialysis. Problem: he couldn’t tell me the name of the supplement as it was years ago, he is older (in his 90’s) and his memory is failing.
My fiance’ has this nephrotic syndrome. He purchased a NutriBullet and has started making smoothies and drinking one a day because ‘someone told him’ he needed to do this.
That’s why I was reading this blog.
If you have any information or links on Nephrotic Syndrome that will help me sort through this mass of information that I really don’t understand, I would be very grateful for the assist. I don’t want to just start ‘trying anything and everything’ as that could be very dangerous in itself.
I appreciate the time and detail that you have put into your blogs. I have read through a couple of them (starting with the protandim). Time to go make dinner and hope that it doesn’t affect him negatively….
Hi Bethel, question. Does your fiance’ have diabetes? Diabetes is a big cause of kidney failure so that’s why I asked. If he does, does he have type I diabetes or type II diabetes? If he doesn’t have diabetes, has a doctor ever told him what the cause of his kidney disease is?
He does not have diabetes. November of 2014 he fell off a rig backwards, dropped about 5 feet and landed on his butt. Jarred his kidneys. He started having pain in his kidneys shortly after that. The physical therapist did not address it and hard head did not listen to me. A lot of disagreement. Fast forward to 8 months later. He’s in the hospital with swelling – swelled up like a water balloon – all over. They finally diagnosed his nephrotic syndrome.
Again I wanted to address it with diet change and holistic medicine, No. He followed what the doctors said. Ended up taking high dose of prednisone for 30 days then chemo drug for 30 days, a 6 month process going back and forth. The drugs literally made him crazy. So much so that I had to leave. He chased me away. He lost his job, quit going to the specialist as he lost his insurance. Got enough prednisone, micophenalate and bumetanide to maintain. Found himself again. It’s been hell.
We have reconciled, (obviously as I’m here writing this now) (he’s lucky I love him).
He has Obamacare now, with a 3000.00 deductable 🙁
We went to his PCP this past Monday and I was able to fill in the blanks, or enough of them to at least have a direction on where to start. When the doctor walked in he shook his head. Later he told me that my fiance’ is a walking miracle, a man with the severity of his condition shouldn’t be walking let alone working. I know that a damaged machine will only work so long with patches. I don’t want to start throwing things at him.
Of course all of the well wishers are suggesting this, that and the other of the latest and the greatest. I have once again started him on a regular diet of fresh and raw foods, but I really don’t know what is best or better. It will be a transition as he is a meat and potatoes man (I always ate that before) but he’s now open to change.
I am searching for a holistic clinic in the Houston area. We have to save the money or sell stuff to pay the costs but I don’t care about stuff.
If you have any suggestions, questions or comments, I am open to them. Thank you for listening. Not hopeless, not giving up.
Hi Bethel, my guess is that he has type II diabetes. Is he overweight? If yes and if I’m right, then one thing that can help him reverse the condition is to eat better. That means eating fewer calories. If he eats according to the “Food Plate” http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ this can go a long way to improving his health.
Do you know what is “A1C” level is? That is something the doctor probably tested. A1C is a measure of how progressed his diabetes is. The normal level is less than 6%. The higher the number, the worse the diabetes is getting.
For type II diabetes, he should eat fewer refined carbohydrates (cookies, cakes, soda, fast food) and more fruits and vegetables.
Here are some videos that a doctor makes to help show people the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables
Here is an interview I did with a women who reversed her diabetes
I don’t think he needs any supplements. Use the Nutrabullet. Its a fine machine that can help people eat better. I think if he can make some small changes to his diet and lose some weight (if he is overweight) then, this is something he can turn around. It takes time but I’ve seen it happen in others.
I agree, don’t give up! Keep me posted on how he and you are doing.
Gussie davis says
Is there anything in any of the nutri bullet products that will increase blood pressure. I did try the super foods and found my blood pressure to have an increase. Please inform. Thanks
Gussie, none that I’m aware of although I cant speak about their other supplements because so far I’ve only reviewed the fat burning boost. I’d much rather you just used regular food in your nutribullet rather their supplements.
William Osler says
If, as you note, caffeine is part of the product, there is a risk of increased blood pressure.
It is always worrisome when the manufacturer/distributor will not provide amounts.
Great work Joe. Keep it up.
William, thanks 🙂
Thank you for all of this information! It is extremely thorough. I used the fat burner for the first time this morning and was wondering if it was actually effective…
Jessica, you are very welcome. I appreciate you saying that and I do hope the fat burning boost helps you. Congrats on co-editing that book on your website too 🙂
Thank you for this review. I have recently purchased a Nutri Bullet also, but was very hesitant to buy the supplement. I love to cook and have been looking for ways to incorporate healther foods in my diet.
Because I work in an office and don’t have the chance to get much exercise during the day, I thought starting small might kick-start the rest.
I’m 49 and have inflammatory issues in my knees, and I hate taking pills. I’m hoping some of the recipes they provide will be beneficial.
Cindy, you are very welcome! I hope you enjoy it and keep me posted on how it goes 🙂
Sue Bingham says
I have found all of this information very informative and informational. Today I purchased the Superfood Fat Burning Boost for my Nutribullet and did find a recipe for one serving on the package but have not as yet tried it. I also purchased hemp seed which, from what I have read, contains Omegas 3 & 6.
I have had the Nutribullet for several weeks and have used it to make pureed soups. The ones I like best are tomato, which you can use plain or add 1/2 & 1/2 to make it creamy. Then I made squash soup, (you can also use pumpkin) also with 1/2 & 1/2 and added cinnamon and ginger and it is delicious.
But now I really want to see if the Fat Burning Boost will do what it says in combination with diet and exercise and will do so for 30 days as recommended.
I do have a question and a cautionary tale to tell.
I have a friend that was using large amounts of greens, kale in particular, as it has been touted as a superfood, and she wound up in the hospital with multiple kidney stones the size of marbles. She was told that blended greens are not suitable for everyone in large amounts. If you have come across any studies that have indicated that consuming large amounts of greens can cause kidney stones could you let me know.
I am also finding it interesting to read the studies about fructose from fruit used in smoothies.
I enjoyed reading your blog and will keep referring to it often as I set out on my quest to burn fat.
Hi Sue, there is something to green vegetables and kidney stones. Green vegtables contain a compound called oxalate which, in high amounts, can increase the risk of kidney stones. So what happened to your friend does don’t sound out of the ordinary. here is a link to something that discusses this: http://health.usnews.com/health-conditions/urology/kidney-stones/prevention
This is ironic given all the goods that green vegetables can do. For me, I can only tell you I dont hear about this happening much and I think the risk is lower in people who drink enough liquids. Aiming for drinking 1/2 your body weight in oz of fluids per day should reduce this from happening.
I hope you like the Fat Burning Boost (let me know) keep me posted on how its going 🙂
Very thorough & helpful review. Thank you!
Lex, thanks, I appreciate that 🙂
I got a Nutri-bullet today (and the supplement), mostly because it was an older model,on sale, and I had a 20 percent off coupon. For me, this product makes sense. I’m a single mom and a teacher- and I never take the time to pack a salad for lunch. Also, I don’t love greens.
But this afternoon, I made a “nutri-blast” with romaine, half a banana, the supplement, and some frozen berries- and it was good. I think the supplement gave it a great kick- and I have read a great deal about chia seeds being a superfood.
Also, my nine year old was fascinated. She never liked my $19 smoothie maker. But in this she put two clementines, some carrots, and raspberries and declared it dessert.
Ali, If it helps your 9 year old eat healthier and helps smoothies taste better for you, then that is what’s most important.
Mary Kay Bean says
I love my Nutribullet. I’ve been drinking my veggie/fruit blend for breakfast and lunch for the past 4 weeks, then eating a dinner consisting of mostly veggies, a bit of chicken or fish and quinoa. I’m doing my best to be wheat-free. I do add a protein supplement, cacao and chia seeds and I’m trying to find other nutritional additives that may be health boosts for me. (I found this discussion when researching Vemma.)
The smoothies have so helped me to eat better foods – which at 60 is really important to me. If you have any suggestions about supplements I’m listening. I have no serious health issues and I’d like to keep it that way – actually improve my health and hopefully take off a few pounds. I do have higher cholesterol (genetic) which I’m hoping to lower with this diet also.
Thanks for the great information, I can’t wait to check out more of your articles.
Hi Mary Kay, I agree, I like the Nutrabullet also and so Id say keep using it. I think the protein is important because there is some evidence that we may need a bit more protein as we get older. this is also true if you start to exercise as well. Toss some protein powder into your nutrabullet smoothie and also have a little bit with dinner as you have been doing.
Eventually Id recommend to start some type of an exercise program such as walking. Initially start with just 10-20 minutes a couple times a week. Eventually try to do something 45-60 minutes most days of the week. It doesnt have to be all at the same time (20 in the morning, 20 at lunch and 10 at dinner time for example). If you can work in some type of resistance training this will help you hold on your upper body muscle too. Start with something like push ups against the wall or your kitchen sink. Try sitting in a chair and then standing up. try to do that 10-15 times without using your hands (just use your legs).
As for supplements, I would say just keep doing what you are doing. The health benefits research is very strong for eating fruits and veggies, which you are doing with your nutrabullet now. I dont feel you need Vemma but if you want to add in an inexpensive multi vitamin that’s fine (but may not be needed because of the fruits and veggies).
if you have any other questions, just ask!
Have a great Memorial day Mary Kay! 🙂
Judy Leahy says
I’m happy to make my own smoothies. That way I can control what goes in them and vary the ingredients. Sometimes I like to add more greens. I’ve used and modified many of the recipes on http://www.greensmoothiehabit.com
Hope this posted okay. I’m using XP with IE, but Chrome works better for me most of the time.
Judy, thanks for letting me know 🙂
Paul Thomas says
Great review as always – you never leave any stone unturned. I also got sucked into this infomercial and actually thought about getting one – but didn’t. My cooler head prevailed & figured the blender I had was good enough. They should just stick to the blender business & scrap the supplement business!
Paul, thanks. Yes I agree, sticking to the Nutribullet itself is probably best. As I was researching Nutribullet for this review, they were reminding me of Beach Body, which in the past only sold workout DVDs. Then they got into the supplements like Shakeology and the P90X Recovery Drink . The supplements are an added profit center for the company. I just wish companies would stick to what they do best.
William Wilson, M.D. says
The NutriBullet is a high-speed blender for people who have a scrambled brain when it comes to nutrition. This supplement seems to also fit this description. When you make smoothies using this type of blender you are chewing up much of the fiber, allowing the sugars to be absorbed much more quickly. Eat the whole fruit or vegetable—there is nothing better than whole foods.
Dr Wilson, you raise an interesting question: When foods are put in the Nutribullet – or any other blender – is the fiber significantly destroyed/altered such that it allows blood sugar to rise faster than it would if people just ate the food? I’m not aware of research on this but I’ll admit this has not been on my radar.
I can understand how drinking foods (smoothies) might alter satiety and provide a way for more calories to be consumed relative to eating foods, but I dont think Ive ever seen studies comparing postprandial blood sugar levels in blended smoothies vs eating the same number of calories. Can you provide any studies on this?
William Wilson, M.D. says
The master vegan Collin T. Campbell had this to say about such smoothies:
How should someone start transitioning to a plant-based diet?
“Smoothies are kind of like a stepping stone for those who want to get a start on this. It’s not one of the main ways to do things because one of the problems with smoothies is, although they are quite good, people rely on them too much. What happens is that we gulp down these smoothies, and it escapes the first stage of digestion in the mouth. So [the smoothie] ends up in our stomach, in our intestines, and it creates a glycemic burst and that, in turn, has been associated with a higher risk for diabetes. Still, it’s a good way to start.”
I don’t know how much science has been done on this but I can’t imagine why grinding up food would improve it.
Dr Wilson, I can see how drinking a large amount of calories at once might cause a ‘glycemic burst” by speeding gastric emptying, which could be an issue for those with diabetes. But would the fiber in the foods negate this from occurring? If the blender, altered the structure of the fiber, then this might be. I’d just like to see a study on this.
This would make an interesting study for any college students reading this, Measure postprandial glucose levels after drinking and eating foods of the same glycemic load and calories.
William Wilson, M.D. says
There are several issues at play here. People who consume a lot of these smoothies tend to consume too much fructose. If you consume more fructose than about 20-24 grams daily, then metabolic problems can occur. My friend Richard Johnson has done much of the work on this. Speed of absorption is important, at least when it comes to the brain. Neurons don’t have an insulin gate so glucose spikes are very bad for neurons.
I think it comes down to too much of any good thing can be bad. I can see your point that those with metabolic disorders may present a population where where over-reliance on smoothies might be an issue. Do you know of any studies at medline of smoothie intake in diabetics that I might take a look at?
William Wilson, M.D. says
Joe–I don’t know of a specific study that looks at this issue. There are a lot of studies looking at fructose intake and health. My friend Gary Taubes recently sent me a link to his article outlining the challenges of doing good nutritional research:
That’s why I tend to rely on evolutionary biology. Mother Nature has been doing experiments for millions of years so it pays to listen to her wisdom. Humans got along just fine for eons without shredding their fruits and vegetables. Unless somebody can show me a reason to do so, I say forget it.
Thanks for the link to the article. I will try to look on my end for studies on this. I always put food above all but recognize for many smoothies can provide a lot of nutrition. While the fructose may be an issue (esp in smoothies with high concentrations of fruit),I’m not sure if one or two a day overshadows the other attributes (fiber, phytonutrients) of these foods in healthy people. There may be some (e.g. diabetics) who may need to take precautions.
I will try to find studies comparing postprandial glucose levels resulting from smoothies vs foods as you got me interested. If you turn up any, please do let me know.
William Wilson, M.D. says
Joe–I agree. I tell patients to reduce or eliminate processed food and if they do their health will improve dramatically. Smoothies are not one of our major health issues, either in a positive or negative direction. Focus on the big stuff.
I agree 100% 🙂
When I see the ad for NutriBullet it talks about how you get more of the food nutrition into your body then just eating your food. Is there really a difference if you chew or blend your food?
Janet, excellent question! I’d ask them to prove it. If you are healthy, I’ve never seen any evidence that blending foods -in the nutribullet or any other blender – improves the nutrient absorption over just eating the food itself. In unhealthy people it may be possible- esp if the person has digestive problems – but in healthy people, I really doubt it.
The advantage of the blender is that you can mix a lot of things together including stuff you might not ordinary eat with the taste being masked by other foods that taste better. So you might get a more nutrient-dense product. That’s good. But, if you eat all the foods, in the same amounts, our digestive system breaks down all those foods also and absorbs them the same way.
As such, I’d take their claim of better absorption of nutrients with a grain of sea salt 🙂
Hi joe, let’s see if this works….
Joy it did 🙂