Which smoothies will help with your weight loss? Beware of these drinks that promise to cleanse, detox, or slim but really pack on the calories and sugar
“Nothing to eat for me,” my friend Elise said last week. “I’m on a cleanse. I’ll just get a smoothie.” We were driving to a meeting and the closest quick bite was at Mickey D’s. She ordered the healthy-sounding Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie—the large. I ordered the Big Mac, a guilty pleasure.
“I haven’t had much success with my cleanse,” Elise continued. “I’m not losing weight and am exhausted. I guess I’m just not getting enough calories.”
“You’re getting plenty,” I said. “Problem is, you’re not getting the right kind!” Then I offered her a bite of my burger. (If only she’d enjoyed one of the 6 Best Slimming Smoothies on Eat This, Not That!.)
When it comes to weight loss, calories aren’t everything. A balanced diet means a solid mix of protein, fats, and carbohydrates—and a Big Mac is relatively balanced: 24 grams of protein, 27 grams of fat, and 9 grams of sugar for 530 calories. But look at the “healthy” smoothie she ordered: At 340 calories, it had 70 grams of sugar—the equivalent of more than 17 sugar packets—and very little fat or protein.
Even the healthiest smoothies at major chains contain a worrisome amount of sugar (P.S. If you're looking to cut out sweets completely, here's an Easy Guide to the Sugar Detox Diet). Starbucks, for example, offers one of the healthiest options, but their offerings contain 41 grams of sugar. Most of that sugar comes from real fruit, but be aware: The American Heart Association recommends that men eat no more than 38 grams of added sugars a day, and women no more than 25 grams. Keep an eye out for the smooth criminals on the slides ahead.
520 calories, 117g carbs, 85g sugar, 2g fiber, 2g protein
Sugar equivalent: 21.25 packets of sugar in one serving
Made with strawberries, mango juice, and their “Lifestyle smoothie mix,” which sounds suspiciously like sugar syrup, this is not the kind of lifestyle we’re aspiring to. With 85 grams of sugar, you’d be drinking the liquid equivalent of four Kit Kat bars. Instead order the Strawberry Raspberry flavor—or lose more weight with one of these 6 Best Fruits for Fat Loss.
Drink this instead: Strawberry Raspberry, Love It, 20 oz
390 calories, 85g carbs, 54g sugar, 5g fiber, 3g protein
590 calories, 125g carbs, 102g sugar, 5g fiber, 17g protein
Sugar equivalent: 25.5 packets of sugar in one serving
“Fat burner”? We’re assuming the task of fat-burning will be left up to you after you down the sugar equivalent of 14 Fudgsicles. While Red Mango has some of the most drinkable smoothies in the restaurant world, this catastrophe falls, oddly, on their “Body Balance” menu.
Drink this instead: The Strawberry Sonata, 24 oz
230 calories, 56g carbs, 28g sugar, 5g fiber, 3g protein
Or if you want to make your own, here are 4 Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss!
710 calories, 102g carbs, 64g sugar, 15g fiber, 18g protein
Sugar equivalent: 16 packets of sugar in one serving
The list of ingredients in this smoothie starts out well (peanut butter—we can get behind that for the protein) and turns sinister (frozen yogurt—what is this, a dessert?). The result is a caloric punch that’s nearly 200 calories more than a Big Mac—and nearly as much sugar as you’d find in two dozen Ginger Snap cookies. Ditch the froyo and go with the Planet Pro Banana & Cocoa. It might sound counterintuitive, but you’ll enjoy dessert flavors at a fraction of the calories and sugar if you choose this protein-packed smoothie instead. And if you love chocolate and the idea of losing weight while still enjoying it, consider trying this super-effective Chocolate Milk Diet.
Drink this instead: Planet Smoothie Planet Pro® Cocoa & Banana, 22 oz
350 calories, 52g carbs, 27g sugar, 8g fiber, 30g protein
Big fan of peanut butter? These 10 Healthy Peanut Butter Recipes are sure to satisfy!
801 calories, 108g carbs, 90g sugar, 6g fiber, 24g protein
Sugar equivalent: 22.5 packets of sugar in one serving
This shocking smoothie is from the Smoothie King’s “Fitness Blend” menu, which promises you’ll “get toned” and “put on quality weight.” But based on its butter pecan ice cream base, you’ll likely be choosing quantity over quality in the weight-gain arena. Even the “Make It Skinny” option, in the smallest size, gives you 169 more calories than a Big Mac. This Hulk is not-so-incredible.
Drink this instead: Smoothie King Vegan Dark Chocolate Banana, 20 oz
320 calories, 70g carbs, 35g sugar, 11g fiber, 11g protein
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