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Calorie Count Blog

Smoothie Bars: Deception and Misconceptions


By +Carolyn Richardson on Jan 21, 2012 10:00 AM in Healthy Eating

The first time I’d experienced a gym with a smoothie bar, I really did think I was in heaven. You mean I can workout, shower, and get this healthy drink on my way out so I don’t feel hungry or have to rush home to cook a meal? Sign me up! According to Global Industry Analysts, Inc, juice and smoothie bars are estimated to become a $10 billion industry by 2015. The problem is the misconception that smoothies are healthy is leading many people to overindulgence. Some of them are cups with more sugar and calories than milkshakes from a drive-thru restaurant. While all smoothies are not created equal, be sure you know what you’re ordering before you waltz into one of these seemingly healthy eating establishments.  

Sweetening Fruit?

Most smoothies start with the fruit. Fruit is sweet. But is it sweet enough? A quick glance at Smoothie King’s website reveals a not-so-healthy admission: “Many of our nutritional smoothies are sweetened with turbinado and honey. By making it skinny and leaving out the turbinado, you’ll save calories and carbs.” Really – there are 100 empty calories in almost every smoothie and I’m supposed to ask it be taken out to “make it skinny”? Okay, but what about calorie counts? A quick glance of their menu of 20 oz. offerings doesn’t include one smoothie that’s less than 200 calories – not even in the kid-size 12 oz serving. Wait, I lied, there’s one called The Gladiator, but its 180-calorie listing doesn’t factor in the two servings of fruit or juice you add to the drink to make it a smoothie. Getting the amount of a day’s worth of sugar in a 20 oz. cup is one thing, but the fact that they have even larger sizes of 32 oz. and 40 oz. is a bit sour.

Two Servings of What?

Hop on over to Jamba Juice and along with your smoothie, you get the option of a “boost.” Nice touch for those looking for protein or more vitamins and minerals than the fruit in the smoothie itself; which brings me to my next point. Other than fruit, what exactly is in the ingredient list of their “Classic” Smoothies? Sherbet or sorbet, like the kind you find in the ice cream aisle. Yes, juice and sherbet or sorbet is in every one of their “Classic” line of smoothies. So you know, sorbet and sherbet is typically fruit, sugar, and water or milk. Opt for the “All Fruit” Smoothies and the sorbet and sherbet are gone, but you’re still looking at “peach juice blend” or “pineapple juice blend” in the ingredients. While I do not know if these "blends" are fresh-squeezed, it’s safe to say that juice is not 'all fruit.'

Make Your Own

Both Jamba Juice and Smoothie King dub one or more of their smoothies as meal substitutes or replacements. So if you think of a smoothie as a snack, not a meal, make your own. Even at home, the calorie count of a smoothie can add up quickly with multiple servings of fruit, so use a measuring cup to control portion size. Half a banana offers the sweetness of sugar and adds that much desired softness. If you add yogurt, go for plain, not flavored, yogurt. Typically, flavored yogurt has added sugar. Adding extract instead, be it vanilla, almond, chocolate, or even coconut, adds flavor without empty calories. Be sure frozen fruit isn’t sweetened to save calories and keep ice cubes on hand if you’re blending fresh fruit to make it chilled. Adding a serving of protein powder is also an option, just be aware of the usual addition of 100+ calories from one serving. If you must add a liquid, and low-fat milk or water isn't desirable, think of unsweetened almond or hazelnut milk or even coconut water as an option.

Whether from a juice bar or a grocery store, your idea of a nutritious smoothie may only be a mirage. If you’re not making them yourself, or really controlling what the employees are putting in them at your favorite smoothie place, think of them as more of a treat rather than a daily nutritious meal. The fact that most won’t have a variety of whole fruit, vegetables, healthy fat and a lean protein is proof that it shouldn’t be replacing too many of your meals.


Your thoughts…

What is your favorite store-bought or homemade smoothie recipe and how does it affect your daily calorie count?



Comments


I make my own....mainly because they'e EXPENSIVE!!! And I can sneak in a vegetable or two (usually carrots).



Excellent and very informative article! Knowledge is everything isn't it? Critical thinking is the only way to go.

My favorite smoothie is banana and low fat milk base. Then I add another fresh fruit (preferably berries) and/or cooked beets and shredded carrots. I think it works better if you add the carrots already shredded or steamed (and cooled). The beets add an amazing color to it.



I never thought of smoothies as healthy unless I made them myself, since... well, you know. Adding sorbet hardly screams 'healthy choice'.

Even my own smoothies are kind of like a treat, but I think it's because I only get to have them if I've got spare calories. I put tofu in mine to thicken it up, but it has the added bonus of boosting my protein, calcium and iron too. Banana and blueberry is probably my favourite combination.



I discovered this 'stress buster' smoothie online the other day.  (It also lists maca powder but after a minute's research, it's clear it's not worth using).  The rest was interesting though & a little unusual so I thought I'd give it a try after my next work out.  This one is definitely meal replacement territory.

1 banana, chopped

125 ml milk ( your choice of cow, almond, seed or rice milk)
1 tsp raw cacao powder
1/4 tsp maca powder (unless you're a local Peruvian with access to fresh maca, the Western version is  simply a kind of flour apparently)
2 fresh meedjool dates, pitted
1 heaped teaspoon tahini (sesame seed paste)
A pinch of cinnamon (I'll make that a teaspoon & add a shot of espresso or instant)

I love shakes with cocoa- also ginger & watermelon.  I sometimes make unsweetened apple sauce & throw that in.



My fav smoothies sounds odd but tastes great, all amounts are to your own preference, skim milk fresh raspberries and avocado. Give it a try and enjoy :)


My favorite smoothie is made by blending chocolate Shakeology with ice and water.  At 160 calories it is the most nutrient dense product that I have found.  It has been one of the key components of my 100 lb weight loss and maintenance program.

 



I love vegetable smoothies at home. They don't contain pureed sugar (fructose), and I know what is in them. I love carrot juice with some leafy greens. Yummy! Also, When thinking I am getting a meal when I drink a smoothie, NOT.  The glycemic index is way to high. My body needs foods that take a longer time to digest. It is better to eat a piece of fruit, a good fiber cereal or real oatmeal with raisins. than to DRINK a fruit smoothie. I was at the health club the other day, and ordered a green smoothie. I asked what kind of vegetables were in it. They told me it was all a powder supplement and they had no idea what was in it.



Comment Removed

Here is the best vanilla shake you will ever experience. The basics of my smoothy shake are:

  • Frozen pre-peeled* banana chunks (approx. 1 banana)
  • Frozen plain nonfat yogurt (1 single serving container)
  • Non-fat milk (1-1/2 cup)
  • Vanilla extract to taste (1/4 tsp)

Place all ingredients into a strong blender, let sit for 15 min to slightly thaw, then blend to the consistency of a shake.

Add other frozen fruits and blend as desired or enjoy as is.

* I peel ripe bananas and cut them into chunks then freeze in a plastic container. You cannot peel bananas that have been frozen in the skin. Ripe bananas are infinitely sweeter and you don't have to add sugar or honey to the shake.

Enjoy!

 



I make a yummy green smoothie with the following ingredients:

Kale, spinach leaves, half a banana and a variety of fresh or frozen fruit, (no added sweetners),

greek yogurt ,

a spoonful of chia seeds and a spoonful of flaxseed meal for antioxidants.  

The greek yogurt adds protein and smoothness to the texture.  It also adds calories, but makes it more like a meal than a snack.  I often have it for breakfast.    Not much different than having a bowl of fresh fruit with yogurt, but by blending it for a smoothie I am able to put the dark green veggies in the morning which I normally wouldn't think of eating a salad for breakfast.  It is a GREAT way to start the day!



1T vanilla whey powder

1t brewer's yeast

1 T flaxseed meal

1/2 cup unsweetened cranberry juice

1/2 cup skim milk

drop almond extract

stir all together well - let stand a fiew minutes and the flaxseed meal will give it milkshake consistency.

 



Using a Vitamix purchased February 2011, I make smoothies every day without any sweeteners. Fruit is the sweetener. Depending on what is in the frig I throw in any combination of the following...frozen berries, frozen 1/2 banana, apple, lime, orange, ginger, carrot, kale, celery parsley etc. For the liquid I use water (refrigerator cold). Aside from delicious the real benefit is how my body feels and responds. Though not really intended to be a meal replacement, they are filling and energizing. Elimination is regular and have definitely contributed to weight loss and overall increase of energy. If drinking after excersize I literally feel my body being hydrated. When I want the smoothie to be more of a meal replacement I make soy or almond milk and add tofu or a protein powder. Have not tried adding extracts yet but certainly will give them a try.


Jamba Juice is so high in sugar! visit www.viweightloss.myvi.net

I am a personal fitness trainer-and this is working amazing results with my clients. I am on the transformation nutrition. Go to site and sign my guest book for more information.

 



My favorite. 3/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt, 1/4 cup frozen pineapple, 3/4 cup frozen mango, 1/2 cup orange juice. If you want less carbs, use fat free milk in place of oj. Blend and enjoy.


Using Calorie counter and measuring ingrediants,, I make a killer green smoothie and each day has a different fruite for a different taste.  Apple/Banana, Orange/Fuji, Mixed Berries, Pineapple/banana, plus 1/2 scoup of protein powder per serving, almond milk (unsweeetened) 1 cup, ice cubes (1 cup) then I add a concoction of brocolli, carrots, chard, boc choy, spinach, red or green lettuce, celery, and what ever else I have inthe vege section of my fridge that moring.  Makes 4 16 ounce servings in my vita mix blender.   Chill,   leave 1 for wife, two for me, and 1 for a co worker who is trying to keep up with me on my VEGE only diet plan!  



my go to smoothie is:

1 tbsp flax and chia and goji berries

1 tsp lethicin

1/2 c flax milk (or almond, cow, soy) and unsweetened pomegranite juice

1/2 c blueberries  frozen

It is about 300 calories, but makes for a good breakfast as I am full until my mid morning snack and sometimes don't need the snack.  It is suppose to make your skin glow and when I was drinking them every day, I must admit my skin did look better.  The lethicin has quite a bit of calories, but it is one of the ingredients for the "glow" part of the recipe.  I got it from a beautiful skin book!!



I make my own as well. My recipe is simple. Chop what fruit you want (eg. peaches, pears, mangos) and put in blender. Blend until it is well blended then put in about 1 and 1/2 cups of ice and blend. Pour into glass and drink. Very good.



I always make my own smoothies, but I only drink them in the summer because the frozen fruit is cold and creamy like ice cream. I don't like store bought smoothies because they are too sweet and most of the time they add ice to them. Why would you add ice to a smoothie? Use frozen fruit and you get a wonderful texture that doesn't go away if it warms up a bit. If you add ice, it waters down your smoothie and changes the texture as the ice melts.



Original Post by: mewlkitten

I always make my own smoothies, but I only drink them in the summer because the frozen fruit is cold and creamy like ice cream. I don't like store bought smoothies because they are too sweet and most of the time they add ice to them. Why would you add ice to a smoothie? Use frozen fruit and you get a wonderful texture that doesn't go away if it warms up a bit. If you add ice, it waters down your smoothie and changes the texture as the ice melts.


Oh, and also if you add milk and sherbert or sorbet to your smoothie, then it isn't a smoothie anymore, it's a milkshake. Milkshakes are a dessert, not a meal replacement or a healthy workout snack.

Also if you add frozen yogurt to your smoothie instead of regular yogurt, it becomes a dessert and not a smoothie. Frozen yogurt is almost the same thing as ice cream with all the sugar.



1 cup coconut water 1 handful fresh spinach 1/2 fresh uncooked beet 1 carrot 1 banana 1 cup frozen fruit. (i freeze my fresh fruits) Natural whey protein powder..


Here is my post work out fav..... 1/3 cup blueberries 1/2 cup strawberries One leaf fresh kale One medium carrot One table spoon milled flax seed 1/2 simply apple juice 1/4 cup 100% pure pom juice 1 scoop GNC brand vanilla protien isolate Blend everything in a blender (I use the magic bullet which is perfect for one serving) accept the protien Add protien when everything else is blended well This works best if you fruit is frozen right from the start. Calories: 385 Very satisfying and the protien isolate digests easier than 100% protein so it stays with you longer!


I only make my own, using whatever fruit I have on hand (keep it frozen) with a lowfat plain yogurt and splenda



I use a cup of non-fat plain greek yogurt, a cup of skim milk, 3/4c frozen blueberries, and a splash of Mio water enhancer, or a little crystal light mix. 

total comes in just under 300 calories, with 23 grams of protein.

 

 



I make my own too! I've looked at the cost and calories of the store-bought mixes and been in schock. My recipe uses the following:

 non-fat plain yogurt

frozen fruit with the fruit as the only ingredient(my favorites are peaches with raspberries, or mixed berry)

banana with brown spots (best sweetener ever)

1/2 serving-scoop protein powder--strawberry

skim milk to thin

ice cubes

 

The amounts of each varies depending if I'm feeling thick texture or thin. But I always keep track of how much I put in to make sure I'm not overloading. I use the ice to add volume but no calories, so I feel like I'm really pigging-out but I'm not at all. One smoothie is about 250 calories, so I use it as a half-meal.



Make your own... and you can add spinach or other greens. My favorite green smoothie is simply spinach (about 4 cups) and a 1/4 of a lemon (rind and all) plus water as necessary to acheive appropriate thickness. Flax seed is a good addition, too.

It's not for the beginner, but it's amazing how quickly your tastes will adjust. Add fruit to start, bananas always take over in flavor and are good for starting out.

Drinking 4 cups of spinach can be a lot faster than eating it! This smoothie is good if you are looking to increase your veggies. You can use other greens, but may need other ingredients for some flavor. Apple is a good addition, but remember -- fruit adds calories!



Original Post by: kb55

Here is the best vanilla shake you will ever experience. The basics of my smoothy shake are:

  • Frozen pre-peeled* banana chunks (approx. 1 banana)
  • Frozen plain nonfat yogurt (1 single serving container)
  • Non-fat milk (1-1/2 cup)
  • Vanilla extract to taste (1/4 tsp)

Place all ingredients into a strong blender, let sit for 15 min to slightly thaw, then blend to the consistency of a shake.

Add other frozen fruits and blend as desired or enjoy as is.

* I peel ripe bananas and cut them into chunks then freeze in a plastic container. You cannot peel bananas that have been frozen in the skin. Ripe bananas are infinitely sweeter and you don't have to add sugar or honey to the shake.

Enjoy!

 


I learned the lesson of frozen bananas the hard way! I tried to slice the peel off and instead sliced my thumb open, in turn needing stitches. 

My two favorite smoothies are (and I don't measure ingredients really):

PUMPKIN PIE
- 8oz unsweetened almond milk
- 2 big spoonfuls of pumpkin puree
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1/2T honey (to sweeten the pumpkin)
- dash of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg
- ice to thicken

CHOCOLATE + STRAWBERRY + PEANUT BUTTER
- 8oz unsweetened almond milk
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1 glob of Walden Farms chocolate syrup
- 1T peanut butter 
- 4-5 frozen strawberries

I also sometimes just blend the protein powder, milk, and frozen fruit with a handful of spinach, because you can't taste it once it's blended. 



Original Post by: leslieleelaw

I love vegetable smoothies at home. They don't contain pureed sugar (fructose), and I know what is in them. I love carrot juice with some leafy greens. Yummy! Also, When thinking I am getting a meal when I drink a smoothie, NOT.  The glycemic index is way to high. My body needs foods that take a longer time to digest. It is better to eat a piece of fruit, a good fiber cereal or real oatmeal with raisins. than to DRINK a fruit smoothie. I was at the health club the other day, and ordered a green smoothie. I asked what kind of vegetables were in it. They told me it was all a powder supplement and they had no idea what was in it.


i can attest to avocado smoothies, they are the proverbial bomb.



1/2 cup pineapple, 1/2 serving protein shake, tsp ground flaxseed, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, water.



I think it's like ordering out at any restaurant or store: if you are particular and discerning about what you want, you can make the calories and nutrition that ARE there (although not necessarily readily advertised) work for you. 



I do a serving each of strawberries, banana, carrots, zucchini, spinach, and unsweetened vanilla almond milk. It's so tasty although the color can be disturbing for some. It baby poop green but it doesn't bother me. Lol.


I make my smoothies about once a week. Unsweetened apple or pear sauce or apple or pear butter that I can myself without any sweetener, unsweetened Greek yogurt, almond milk and whatever berries, almonds or unsalted pumpkin seeds or almond butter and if I am skipping the apples or pears I use one stevia.


Baby spinach, avocado, carrots, cucumber, apple, orange, grapes, and a frozen mango/pineapple combination here.  YUMMY for breakfast!



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