Summer is definitely upon the city which means that people are turning more and more to their favorite meal replacements: Smoothies. The smoothies have revolutionized the idea of quick, nutritional meals in a way that hasn’t been seen since the invention of the sandwich. But hold on a second! Before you start feeling good about that icy cold treat in your hand, take a minute to actually think about what is in there.
For instance, at McDonald’s, a small (12oz) Strawberry Banana Smoothie is 210 calories but has 44 grams of Sugar. Or you could try, the small Mango Pineapple Smoothie which comes in at 220 calories but 49 grams of Sugar. But there is one thing on the menu with less sugar. At 12 oz, it has 110 calories and only 28 grams of Sugar – a small Sprite. Yes, the soda option actually has less sugar than the smoothies. In addition, with no protein in any of them, you’ll probably be feeling hungry again fairly soon. However, if you head on over to Energy Kitchen, their 24oz smoothies might be double the size of the McDonald’s offerings but, on average, come in at about 293 calories with 19 grams of hunger satisfying Protein and only 43 grams of sugar. Yes, the double sized portion still has less Sugar than their other fast food counterparts.
Now, this might not actually come as a suprise to you. After all, there are those that would expect nothing more from McDonald’s. And, like many New Yorkers, if you find yourself heading over to Jamba Juice, read the nutritional content carefully! Some of their small sized drinks come in at a whopping 50+ grams of Sugar with almost no protein. Don’t be surprised if you feel the need to refuel a couple of hours later.
So what can a nutritionally savvy buyer look for?
- If possible, ask for the Smoothie to be made with water or nonfat milk instead of juice. While whole fruits are great when blended because of the vitamins and fiber, juices tend to bring a lot of unneccessary calories by adding a lot of extra sugar.
- Bigger is definitely NOT better. Lugging around a 30+ ounce beverage might make that smoothie feel like more of a meal replacement. And that might be because it would contain more calories than a regular cheeseburger! Stick with a smaller size and, if you feel the need for more, try some extra water on the side before going for another.
- Protein, protein, protein! A lot of places, like Energy Kitchen or the juice bars at many Equinox gyms around the city, add protein to their smoothies. Even if you have dietary concerns, such as being vegan, many places offer vegan protein sources as well. The extra protein will help you stay fuller longer.
Keep these three simple rules in mind and you should be all set. Happy drinking!