5 tips for homemade smoothies that will help you lose weight

Smoothies – if they're prepared the right way – can help you get some important nutrients like fiber and protein, filling you up so you don't overeat at your next meal. Many smoothies you buy pre-made, however, aren't always the healthiest choices.

Size matters, and so do ingredients. Watch out for the "health halo" that seems to surround smoothies, and avoid anything that's described as creamy, decadent or that includes whipped cream or drizzles of anything, Marisa Moore, a local dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Although treating yourself to a smoothie you don't have to make is OK once in a while, you'll have more control over the ingredients if you make your smoothie at home. The basic components of a smoothie aren't complicated. You'll need about 1/4 cup of liquid (water, milk, fruit juice, etc.), a thickener (ice, yogurt, etc.) and fruit or other ingredients of your choice.

The following five tips will help you make homemade smoothies that can help you lose weight:

Load up on fiber

Adding high-fiber foods to your smoothie can help you feel fuller for longer. Since they take longer to digest than many other foods, they'll leave you feeling satisfied so you aren't as likely to overeat at your next meal. Include high-fiber foods such as raspberries (8 grams of fiber per cup) or avocado (about 9 grams per avocado). You could also top your smoothie off with some chia seeds, which are packed with 5.5 grams of fiber per tablespoon.

Add some protein

Protein also helps make you feel full and may also help you increase muscle mass. Add protein powder to your smoothie if you'd like, or get additional protein from tasty sources such as Greek yogurt and cottage cheese (use non-fat versions to save calories), almonds, almond butter, pumpkin seeds, oats or kale. And if you're already adding chia seeds or avocado for the fiber, you'll also be getting a healthy dose of protein as well.

Don't overdo the fruit

Fruit has a lot of good-for-you nutrients, but it can also be high in calories and sugar. Sticking to one serving of fruit per smoothie can help balance your calories and sugar with healthy ingredients, and you'll still be able to enjoy a great-tasting creation.

Take it easy on the added sweeteners

Adding sugar or generous dollops of honey or maple syrup loads your smoothie up with unnecessary calories. It's probably already sweet if you've included fruit, but if you need an extra zing, try some cinnamon or get a little adventurous with another herb or spice.

Add some veggies

Vegetables such as spinach and kale add a lot of nutrients without a lot of calories. And when mixed with the other ingredients in your smoothie, they won't affect the taste as much as you might think.