Today is the day that you become empowered when ordering off the menu! Below, I'm going to cover how you can make the most of your order if you find yourself at a smoothie shop.
I'm in Ann Arbor, MI so I'm going to use the two most commonly visited smoothie places here in town; Smoothie King & Tropical Smoothie Cafe (we have 2 of them). But, first, some guidelines for practice before you go to either place or another place like it.
Guidelines for Ordering A Smoothie
1) Check the menu - see which 1-2 smoothies peak your interest and then look up the nutrition facts.
2) Now it's time to play some addition by subtraction...and perhaps some addition by addition 🙂 What I mean by this is that there a certain things you may want to get request get removed from your smoothie which will make it much healthier and then there are things you may want to add in order to make the smoothie more aligned with your short & long-term goals.
3) Do a rough estimate of the total caloric intake after these adjustments. The majority of places will not only have the total calories for the smoothies, but for the add-ons and each part of the smoothie as well.
4) If the smoothie fits your caloric needs, then go ahead and order. If not, then it might require you either making another adjustment or abandoning that smoothie all together.
Side note: This isn't meant to make you OCD about calorie counting. If you find that calorie counting does nothing but make you anxious, then don't count. Make the adjustments you believe to be necessary, and then go ahead and order. However, the caloric intake is important and should not be ignored hence why I bring it up.
Okay, now I'm going to give you two examples of how to use actual examples off of the menus of Smoothie King and Tropical Smoothie Cafe.
The smoothie: 32 ounce, Original High Protein Pineapple
Nutrition: 480 calories, 18g of fat, 45g of carbohydrates, 40g of protein
Ingredients: Pineapple, whey protein, almonds
How do I modify this for myself?: Well, the carbs aren't a concern, but what's driving that carb count up might be a concern due to the sugar content. As it stands, there is 32 grams of sugar in this smoothie. If I wanted to cut back, then I could ask the person serving me to give me half the amount of normal fruit which would scale this back. Obviously, I'd sacrifice here on taste if I did that. However, when I look at the total calorie count here, and how many calories I need to maintain my weight per day (~2,600 kcal per day) then reducing the calories isn't a concern of mine. In fact, I'm going to add an extra scoop of whey (120 calories) and some almond butter (160 calories) which will put me at 760 kcal for this smoothie. I'm going to add some kale and spinach as well so I can get 2 cups of veggies into the mix as well.
Tropical Smoothie Cafe
The smoothie: Triple Berry Oat (TSC doesn't list sizes on their nutrition guide, so maybe they only serve one size of smoothie?)
Nutrition: 410 calories, 4.5g of fat, 83g of carbs, 15g of protein, 56g of sugar - 81% of this smoothie is carbohydrates and the majority of those carbohydrates coming in the form of sugar.
Ingredients: strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, Splenda, multi-vitamin, ground flax seed, whey protein, whole grain oats
How do I modify this for myself?: That's quite a bit of sugar so I'm going to ask for half the amount of normal fruit and no added sugar to the smoothie.
The protein content is low, so I'm going to ask for another 1-2 scoops of whey protein.
I'm going to add the kale and spinach pack to add more vegetables.
For my healthy fat source, I'm going to add peanut butter.
If you see "Turbinado" in your smoothie at Smoothie King, then ask for it to be removed. This is just added sugar.
Eating on the go shouldn't be so complicated, but it is. My hope is that you feel more empowered to make healthier choices at these smoothie cafes.
If after reading that you're still overwhelmed, then follow this rule:
-cut out added sugars
-if more than one fruit added, then ask for half the amount of normal fruit
-add more protein
-add more healthy fat (if raw nuts, nut butter, or avocado isn't already in your smoothie)