Smoothies, juices, and protein shakes are super popular, but sometimes they are just sugary drinks disguised as health food. And I'd rather have a real milk shake than fake health food because chocolate... #duh.
So how do you know what's good for you and what isn't? I'll teach you what to look for on a label if you are trying to choose a healthy option + give you tips on what to avoid.
First, what to look for if you are buying a juice or smoothie from the grocery store or at a juice bar or restaurant:
- Minimal (or NO) fruit juice. Fruit juices add extra sugar and carbs. Calories that will raise your blood sugar and make you hungry.
- Lots of veggies. Veggies are very low calorie and provide a lot of healthy fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Whole fruits. While fruits can add some sugar, if they are whole (i.e. not concentrated juice) they will add extra fiber and sweeten your drink naturally-- just make sure there is more than just fruit in it!
- Protein. If you are getting a shake or making one at home, aim for about 20g of protein. This will fill you up, stabilize blood sugars, and keep you full.
- Fats. Healthy fats from nut butters or coconut oil are amazing for keeping you full.
- If you are at a smoothie shop, beware of smoothies that contain sorbet or sherbet. Again, you might as well have an ice cream shake!!
Here are a few examples of juices and smoothies that are health food imposters.
**The photos on the right are the corresponding nutritional information to the pictures on the left**
Pair number 1: Kale-ribbean Breeze from Jamba Juice. This one is a very good imposter. It's on the "whole food nutrition" menu at Jamba. Plus it has kale, which is a trendy superfood. A small contains 320 calories, a medium 410, and a large is 500 calories! Just because it's green does not mean it's healthy! This one does have 10 grams of protein, which is good, but the first ingredient is a "mango juice blend" AKA lots of SUGAR.
Pair number 2: Suja Green Supreme. For the most part I do like Suja, but some of their juices are super high in sugar. This green juice looks like it would be a good option (I mean it's grean so...), but not so fast. The first ingredient is APPLE JUICE!! It's super sweet, and provides no fiber. Skip the $8 drink and just buy some apple juice if that's what you want.
Pair number 3: Banana Berry Smoothie from Jamba Juice. Since the name is banana berry we expect a good amount of sugar. But, the first ingredient is Apple-strawberry juice! Sugar sugar sugar. This one has a very low amount of fiber, and will basically just spike your blood sugar and leave you starving in no time. p.s. this is a size SMALL. a medium will set you back 390 calories, and a large a whopping 510!
**just as a comparison, a Snickers bar has 245 calories. 22g sugar and 5g of protein. While smoothies and juices do provide more vitamins and minerals, this example shows you just how much sugar is in these juices! Also, if you want a treat and have 200-300 calories to spend... just get something satisfying!**