Zero Belly Smoothies: Lose up to 16 Pounds in 14 Days and Sip Your Way to A Lean & Healthy You - David Zinczenko (2016)

Chapter 4. Get Prepared!

There’s a time machine in your kitchen. With the touch of a button, it will start whirring and spinning and altering the very nature of whatever goes inside of it. Solids will change into liquids; multiple types of complex organic matter will merge into a single, coherent power source.

Harness this power, and you can dramatically change your body in just 10 days—slowing the aging process and stripping away 10, 12, 14 pounds and up to 3 inches from your waist—without hunger, without deprivation, without ever feeling like you’re sacrificing anything. In the process, you will literally alter your genetic profile, turning “off” the genes for fat storage and diabetes and making weight loss quick, effortless—automatic.

This time machine—your blender, of course—has probably been sitting on your counter, neglected, for years. If you’re like most Americans, you whip it out a couple of times each summer for daiquiris or margaritas or when the kids want a homemade milk shake. But if you want to truly take control of your weight, your health, and your life—if you want to lose belly fat quickly and keep it off forever—then you need to turn your blender into an everyday tool.

Here are a few rules to keep in mind as you explore the Zero Belly drinks:

Choose your protein.

As I mentioned earlier in this book, more and more studies are showing that vegetable proteins may have an even more powerful weight-loss effect than animal proteins. And because they’re lactose-free and usually much lower in sugar, vegan proteins do a better job of fighting bloat and inflammation than traditional animal-based versions. Sorry, Miss Muffet, but we’re skipping the curds and whey. Make sure your protein powder has at least 15 grams of protein per serving. While individual proteins like rice, hemp, or pea are fine, you’re better off with a blended protein that gives you a full amino acid profile. (Note: I’ve left soy proteins off this list because highly concentrated doses of soy can have a negative impact on lean muscle tissue, thanks to the estrogen-like chemicals that occur naturally in the plant.) Here are some of the proteins I like the most:

VEGA ONE ALL-IN-ONE NUTRITIONAL SHAKE
A blend of vegan proteins, Vega gives you everything you need in one dose. Vega Sport Performance Protein will do the same.

1 scoop: 160 calories
6 g fat (0 g saturated fat)
13 g carbs
<1 g sugar
20 g protein

SUNWARRIOR WARRIOR BLEND RAW VEGAN PROTEIN
With 20 grams of protein and 100 calories per serving, this organic protein is derived from peas, cranberries, and hemp, with no sugars, gluten, or artificial sweeteners to cause a metabolism-confusing midday crash. But it’s tasty enough to take on its own. If you down some pre-workout, the branched-chain amino acids can give your gym session a boost.

1 scoop: 100 calories
1 g fat (0 g saturated fat)
1 g carbs
0 g sugar
20 g protein

GARDEN OF LIFE RAW MEAL
This organic protein blend, good for a meal replacement, is derived from belly-fat-blasting brown rice, quinoa, and beans, plus tea and cinnamon extract. With 40 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber per two-scoop serving, having one of these for lunch before a workout will keep you feeling full and energized while preserving muscle.

2 scoops: 240 calories
2.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat)
16 g carbs
2 g sugar
40 g protein

ALIVE! ULTRA-SHAKE PEA PROTEIN
Pea protein is rich in amino acids and is easy to digest. While not as preferable as a full blend, this variety by Alive! contains a substantial 15 grams of protein per scoop, plus a multi-vitamin’s worth of nutrients.

1 scoop: 120 calories
1 g fat (0 g saturated fat)
1 g carbs
9 g sugar
15 g protein

NUTIVA ORGANIC HEMP PROTEIN
Stifle the Woody Harrelson jokes: Hemp protein is derived from the less-fun parts of the hemp plant, offering a substantial amount of fiber (here, 8 grams) that’s easy to digest. With 15 grams of protein per scoop, this organic option is an ideal mix-in for oatmeal or smoothies (or brownies, if that’s your thing); the fiber will make you feel fuller longer, and it contains eight essential amino acids to build muscle.

1 scoop: 90 calories
3 g fat (0 g saturated fat)
9 g carbs
1 g sugar
15 g protein

Freeze!

Don’t fall for the common misconception that you need to always use fresh fruit. Beyond being more affordable, the fruit you find in the freezer section is normally picked at the height of the season and flash-frozen. It also makes for colder, creamier smoothies. Simple rule of thumb: If a fruit is at the peak of its season, buy it fresh. If not, stick with frozen. (If you don’t use frozen fruit, you can add a cube or two of ice to each recipe.) And don’t forget to use the frozen bananas I told you about earlier in this book!

Mix up the milks.

Almond and coconut milk are commonly available in most markets, but don’t hesitate to experiment with whatever nondairy milks are on hand at your local market: hazelnut, hemp, rice, and oat milk all can add a creamy dimension to any of these recipes. One to avoid: soy milk. Soy is particularly high in naturally occurring compounds called estrogenics, which raise estrogen levels and lower testosterone levels, promoting fat storage. That doesn’t mean you need to avoid soy at all costs, but most Americans eat far more soy than they know. I’ve chosen to leave soy out of Zero Belly recipes for just these reasons.

Or mix in the teas.

Green tea makes a terrific base for a smoothie, because the active ingredient in green tea, EGCG, is an effective metabolism booster. And green tea is mild (unlike harsher black teas), so it makes for a great jumping-off point. White tea and rooibos are also great smoothie starters.

Boost your fiber.

While the Zero Belly Smoothies all have fiber as a component, you can make this program even more effective by adding additional fiber in the form of flax meal or psyllium husk. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that makes up the structural material in the leaves, stems, and roots of vegetables, grains, and fruits. It’s like the spine of plants. But unlike sugar and starch—two other types of carbs—fiber stays intact until it nears the end of your digestive tract. This is what makes fiber beneficial.

There are two basic types of fiber, and they have separate functions.

Insoluble fiber is found in wheat bran, nuts, and many vegetables. Its structure is thick and rough, and it won’t dissolve in water, so it zips through your digestive tract and increases the bulk of your stool. (Definitely nothing sexy here.)

Soluble fiber is found in oats, beans, barley, and some fruits. It dissolves in water to form a gel-like material in your digestive tract. This allows it to slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream. What’s more, soluble fiber, when eaten regularly, has been shown to slightly lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

More fiber will mean a more satisfied you. In fact, while scientists have long known that eating fiber helps us control hunger, they didn’t really understand why until 2014, when researchers at the Imperial College of London discovered an anti-appetite molecule called acetate. This molecule is released naturally when the healthy bacteria in our colon digests fiber. During the digestion process, the fiber ferments and releases a large amount of acetate as a waste product. Once created, the acetate travels from the colon to the liver and the heart and eventually winds up in the hypothalamus, the region of the brain that controls hunger. Once there, it causes the firing of specialized neurons that signal us to stop eating.

Pour first, then pile.

As you’re building your smoothie, add liquids first, then protein and fruit to your blender. It’s easier on the blender and gets things moving faster. For a thicker, spoonable smoothie, use less liquid than dictated by the recipe. Add more for a fruity, milk-like consistency.

Start slow.

Set your blender on a low speed and wait a few seconds, or until the larger pieces of fruit begin to break down, before you turn up the speed. Going all out at the start can cause air bubbles to form, which you’ll then have to get in and pop (after turning the blender off, of course).

Buff up your blender.

The fact is, you need a quality blender in order to make quality smoothies. That old model from your dorm room won’t be able to crush the ice and frozen fruit quickly enough, which means it can melt and ultimately dilute your precious creation rather than giving it that bracing, velvety texture you want. Here are some of the models I like:

CUISINART POWEREDGE 1,000-WATT BLENDER.
An easy-to-use and versatile blender that’s great for everything from your fitness-minded smoothies to the kids’ strawberry milk shakes.

KITCHENAID 5-SPEED DIAMOND BLENDER.
Does it all for a reasonable price.

KITCHENAID 5-SPEED HAND BLENDER.
If you travel a lot or like to mix it up in the office, this handy tool is a great solution.

MAGIC BULLET.
A small, handheld device that makes blending simple.

NINJA MASTER PREP.
A high-speed blender that won’t take up a lot of room on your countertop.

NINJA ULTIMA BLENDER 244.
This professional-grade blender may be a bit more expensive, but it can muscle its way through just about any food and is easy to clean.

NUTRIBULLET.
Perfect for blending while traveling.

VITAMIX 5200.
Gorgeous, high-powered, and expensive. But worth it if you blend a lot and want to show off to your nosy friends.

Respect the ratio.

Once you learn the basic proportions of liquids to solids, you can turn anything into a drinkable smoothie. For every 3 cups of fruit or other solids, you’ll need about 1 cup of liquid. Keep in mind that protein powders will thicken your drink.

Invest in a blender bottle.

Zero Belly Smoothies are best right out of the blender, because once you crush up a food, its nutrition starts to deteriorate rapidly. So if you want to take a Zero Belly Smoothie to travel, consider making it the night before and freezing it in a blender bottle. (Look for one with a metal mixer ball, which helps reblend the drink when you shake it.)

Mess around.

While each and every one of the recipes in this book will result in a fast, healthy, and unbelievably delicious smoothie, consider them simply a selection of bases to which you can add all varieties of nutritional enhancements. Find some fresh turmeric at the green market? Some weird new fruit down at Whole Foods? Or an interesting spice you haven’t tasted before? Don’t be afraid to look at each and every healthy food you see and think, “I wonder what that would taste like in a smoothie?”

Chances are, it’ll taste delicious.



ST. PATRICK’S DAY EVERY DAY

Green tea—subtle and woodsy in flavor—makes a terrific base for smoothies, and it brings to the mix its own metabolism-boosting benefits. One study found that people who drink green tea daily have an average of 20 percent less body fat that non-tea-drinkers.

But if you’re the adventurous type who’s interested in taking weight loss to another level, you may want to explore the traditional Japanese green tea known as matcha. Matcha is a powdered green tea that some research indicates may be an even more potent weight-loss weapon. The concentration of EGCG—the superpotent nutrient found in green tea—may be as much as 137 times greater in powdered matcha tea. EGCG can simultaneously boost lipolysis (the breakdown of fat) and block adipogenesis (the formation of new fat cells).

One study found that men who drank green tea containing 136 milligrams of EGCG—what you’d find in a single 4-gram serving of matcha—lost twice as much weight than a placebo group and four times as much belly fat over the course of three months. And because the entire leaf is consumed, matcha also contains about 10 times as many antioxidants as regularly brewed green tea. Try blending a tablespoon of matcha into your smoothie.