December 06, 2019 at 02:00PM by CWC
Chances are, if you’re hitting up a smoothie bar like Smoothie King, you have the best intentions of keeping your order healthy. The grab-and-go chain caters to health-minded eaters across the spectrum, with an extensive menu that includes 25 different “fitness blends,” 16 “wellness blends,” and 16 “take a break blends.”
It’s awesome Smoothie King has gone the extra mile to have so many choices, but it’s also…overwhelming. With so many drink options to choose from, it can be a challenge to know which ones are truly the healthiest. That’s where registered dietitian Carrie Dennett, RD comes in.
Here, she highlights the best menu choices for eaters (sippers?) prioritizing low-sugar, ketogenic, or vegan dietary habits. Consider it the unofficial Smoothie King cheat sheet for making your order as healthy as it can be. Keep reading to see her tips for each of the aforementioned eating plans.
Scroll down to see Smoothie King’s healthiest options, according to a dietitian.
What an RD says: The majority of Smoothie King’s offerings are high in sugar, reaching more than double what’s recommended for the entire day. (A lot of this is the nature of fruit-heavy smoothies, although many also have significant amounts of added sugar, too.) But Dennett has a smart cheat for keeping your order on the low end of the sugar spectrum: “If you choose one of the specially crafted ‘keto’ smoothies, you know it’s going to be low in sugar because it has to be,” she points out. A 20-ounce Keto Champ Coffee (made with cold brew, almond butter, almond milk, cacao, and a protein blend) only has one gram of sugar and a 20-ounce Keto Berry Champ (made with blueberries, raspberries, almond butter, and almond milk) clocks in at six grams of sugar.
Order tweak: None needed.
Protein enhancer recommendation: Both keto-labeled smoothies are made with a special keto protein enhancer (made with collagen peptides, oat fiber, stevia, and a few other key ingredients) unless specified otherwise. “All the protein enhancers look fine, but if you are okay with dairy, I would go for the whey protein because a lot of scientific research has been done on whey, and we know it absorbs and assimilates well,” Dennett says. But she was quick to add that the others look safe and healthy, too.
Looking for other healthy fast food orders? Here’s what an RD loves to get at Chipotle:
What an RD says: If you follow the ketogenic diet, finding a smoothie option that’s low in sugar and carbs can be tricky (not all fruits are keto-approved), but Smoothie King did the hard work for you by offering both the Keto Champ Coffee and the Keto Champ Berry smoothies, both of which have under 10 grams of net carbs and, as pointed out before, are low in sugar. Dennett points out that that both the cold brew and the berries are good sources of antioxidants, which help fight inflammation.
Order tweaks: None needed.
Protein enhancer recommendation: According to Dennett, it’s totally fine to stick with the keto protein enhancer, as collagen helps with muscle recovery and joint health, but also recommends the whey for keto followers since whey has long been studied.
What an RD says: The key, Dennett says, for building a healthy vegan beverage at Smoothie King, is picking one that uses almond milk as a base instead of a fruit juice, which many of the green- and fruit- based smoothies use. Both the Vegan Chocolate Banana and the Vegan Nutty Super Grain have good protein (11 grams and 19 grams, respectively), which can be tricky for vegans to hit if they aren’t intentional with their protein intake. The smoothies also have nine grams and eight grams (respectively) of fiber, which is a nice portion of the recommended daily intake of 25 grams.
Order tweaks: While both picks check the vegan off, they are still pretty high in sugar. To cut back, Dennett suggests ordering the Vegan Chocolate Smoothie without the vanilla flavoring and the Vegan Nutty Super Grain without the apple juice.
Protein enhancer recommendation: Smoothie King offers a vegan protein enhancer made with pea, goji berries, and hemp seeds, which Dennett says looks like a good pick. The ingredients list is simple and without it the smoothies would be pretty low in protein, she points out. All in all, it’s a win.