The Truth About Smoothies

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Dear Andrew:
“Are all fruit smoothies good for me? I started drinking some and didn’t notice any weight loss even though I am working out? I have also been drinking them as a meal replacement thinking I would lose weight. Are they too good to be true?”
Deborah N., Seattle, WA

Dear Deborah:

If these drinks seemed too good to be true, it’s because they are. Fruit smoothies are marketed as a healthier alternative to soda. Companies claim because they contain fruit, they are rich in vitamins and anti-oxidants. Though this may be true, it says nothing about its caloric content.

What Geoff from the juice bar forgot to tell you is the amount of calories and fat that is in each of these shakes. Sure, though there may be some fruit and a scoop of protein powder, he didn’t mention the frozen yogurt, sugar, or whole milk put into these concoctions. Yes, they may taste good, but you are basically negating all the hard work done during your workout. It would be like dumping a can of paint on a finished canvas.

I have to admit that I too used to fall into this trap. I would get one of these post workout shakes and then wonder why I wasn’t looking better. I thought I wasn’t working hard enough but I had no idea about the calories hidden in these shakes. It’s hard to realize that some of these shakes have as much calories in them as a meal.

So what can we do? First of all realize the person behind the counter is there to sell you a shake and she or he is not a nutritionist. Remember to ask as many questions as possible to see if they really know what they are talking about.

Another good tip is to bring your own ingredient list. Instead of ordering from the menu, ask them to make you a personalized smoothie. I know it’s not Burger King but your order can still be your way, right away. Bring your own ingredient list to ensure that you get the best smoothie possible. When ordering, always remember to ask for skim milk and skip on the frozen yogurt and fruit concentrates. Most importantly make sure that a scoop of protein is added. Protein helps repair muscle tissue and makes you feel fuller longer.

I’ve found that making your own shakes is a great solution. First of all, you will know exactly what is in it, and also it will be cheaper then that marked up juice bar drink. Here is one of my favorite recipes:

  • Ice
  • 1 scoop of protein powder
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tbsp wheat germ
  • 1 tbsp flax seed mix
  • 2 cups chilled green tea or coffee (Add splenda if desired)
  • 1 glass of skim milk

Blend together and enjoy.

This recipe is not only low in calories, but has protein, essential fatty acids which are thought to fight cancer and aid in fat loss. Ceslie has a good recipe page here as well. Make sure your shake will replenish your energy levels and repair your muscles, but not load you down with unwanted calories. I cringe when I see members at my gym head right for the juice bar after a workout. Don’t let an hour of sweat and hard work be erased by a sugar and calorie laden drink!

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