Smoothies are a classic staple of summer. When the weather heats up, sometimes there is nothing better than a sweet, frozen drink to cool off with.
That being said, many of these “treats” are loaded with extra sugar and calories. Did you know that a small mango-pineapple smoothie at Jamba Juice has 400 calories and 65 grams of sugar? Those calories can add up, especially if you aren’t getting a lot of physical activity.
While it’s okay to treat yourself on your weight management journey, you can do it smartly by making lightened-up summer smoothies without sacrificing taste.
How to Make Healthier Smoothies
Make it Yourself. You can easily buy pre-made smoothies at the grocery store or order from a food establishment, but they are likely to have extra sugar and come in larger portion sizes than you need. DIY smoothies let you control the ingredients and tailor the smoothie to your needs and preferences.
Reduce the Portion Size. You probably don’t need a 35 or 65-oz smoothie to cool off, but they often come that large when you order from a restaurant or smoothie chain. An eight-ounce smoothie might do the trick just fine.
Add Protein. It will help keep you full and prevent blood sugar spikes. Don’t forget that liquid calories add up, so adding protein – which takes longer to digest – can turn your smoothie from liquid sugar to a satisfying snack.
For a healthy protein boost, try an unflavored protein such as Genepro or a flavored one like Unjury or Nectar. You can also use one of the newer, ultra-filtered dairy products. Kroger’s CarbMaster milk and Fairlife milk are both lactose-free with 11 grams of protein (CarbMaster) and 13 grams (Fairlife) in eight ounces. A glass of skim milk has eight grams of protein in eight ounces.
Add More Fiber. Although whole fruit is usually recommended, high-fiber fruits such as berries will give you an edge. They can help you feel full sooner and for longer.
Don’t Forget Veggies! Kale, spinach and other vegetables can boost the nutrition in your smoothie and help thicken it up without adding ice cream, sherbet, or other sugary thickeners. It’s always more filling to eat your veggies vs. drinking them, but this is still a great way to squeeze in extra vitamins and minerals.
Toss the Temptations. Get creative with your “extras.” Instead of adding juice, ice cream, sherbet and high-calorie syrups to flavor your smoothie, try something sugar-free. Find sugar-free syrups like Torani, toss in a few teaspoons of sugar-free gelatin, or use flavor extracts like almond, orange or mint.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Research menus ahead of time before dining out.
- Add or subtract ingredients based on your dietary needs.
- Be mindful of portion size.
- Make your own if possible.
- Watch for marketing buzzwords that are used to reel you in: protein, fresh, healthy, light, gluten-free, paleo, Keto and juice. They don’t always mean what you think.
- Let advertising and buzzwords trick you.
- Feel like you have to choose one of the pre-made products on the menu.
- Feel as if you must finish what you order. It may be enough for leftovers!