Smoothies are meant to be meals in a cup; filling, but also healthy to give you all the nutrients you need. However, when it comes to fast-food smoothies, it seems as if the nutritious part of the drink fades out and gets replaced by sugary, processed ingredients. While making smoothies at home can be a healthier option, especially when trying to watch your abdominal fat, it's not always convenient. Fast-food smoothies are a quick, easy option when you're on the run.
"Finding a great fast-food smoothie to support your weight loss efforts can be tough given that so many smoothies from restaurants are more like milkshakes," says Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD, a retail dietitian coordinator for Kroger and a member of our medical expert board. "Often these smoothies actually start with a sherbet, frozen yogurt, or ice cream and pack on extra added sugar."
Although this may seem discouraging, there happens to be one chain that hits the nail on the head when it comes to healthier ingredients that help to stimulate weight loss. According to Hembree, the best fast-food smoothie for abdominal weight loss comes from Tropical Smoothie Café.
This smoothie fast-food chain allows you to customize your smoothie, which is a great way to build a drink that will fit perfectly into an eating pattern for weight loss.
According to a study published in the journal Current Nutrition & Food Science, switching to a meal replacement beverage such as a nutritious smoothie can help lose weight and reduce your Body Mass Index (BMI).
In the study, the replacement beverage was a specially formulated powder consisting of a decadent flavor, texture, and mouthfeel that contained protein, fiber, and crystalline fructose along with more than 20 vitamins and minerals. Each subject was placed on an appropriate calorie-restricted diet during their individual diet counseling session.
It helped to measure changes in satiety (fullness) over time after consuming the meal replacement beverage, in which subjects reportedly said they went from feeling relatively hungry before drinking the beverage to feeling full 15 minutes following the beverage. That feeling of fullness lasted over two hours, which in term helped the participants to lose weight and shrink their BMI.
So what types of ingredients should you add to your smoothie? Hembree says to look for wholesome, unprocessed ingredients.
"Most of us do tend to pack extra weight around our midsection, however seeking out specific foods in the hopes of target-reducing fat around our abdomen is going to have you come up empty-handed," says Hembree. "Instead, seek out wholesome less processed foods that will keep you full and have an array of good nutrition that will provide energy, nourishment, and offset overeating."
One of Hembree's top recommendations is Tropical Smoothie Café's Chia Banana Boost with Strawberry. Its main ingredients contain roasted banana, chia seeds, almonds, whole-grain oats, cinnamon, dates, coconut, and strawberries.
"This smoothie 'as-is' contains turbinado sugar, but customizing it by removing the sugar (while still keeping it sweet with the fruit) deducts 235 calories from the smoothie recipe," says Hembree. "I then suggest adding in the 'spinach and kale super pack' to include veggies in this smoothie, and the pea protein powder to bring it all together."
When the final product is created, the smoothie will total 540 calories, 12 grams fat (2.5 grams saturated fat), 165 milligrams sodium, 74 grams carbohydrates (with 17 grams of fiber, 37 grams of sugar), and 33 grams of protein, making for a terrific balance of macronutrients and calories for a solid meal—while still containing a hearty amount of fiber.
If you're interested more in fast-food options for weight loss, try The #1 Best Fast-Food Order for Weight Loss, Says Dietitian.