Finding the Best Fast Food Smoothies
During my fitness “journey” I’ve struggled with keeping my protein up and my calories within range, but one thing that really helps is to grab a quick smoothie. There are a lot of options for smoothies but because I am strength training, I need to try to get as much protein as possible. I’ve been researching the healthiest and best fast food smoothies for a few months now, as I struggle to find healthier meals that are convenient. So far, the smoothies from Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Planet Smoothie are the tastiest, in my opinion. But below I’ll detail the best options at each chain and what the macros come out to be.
This weekend I tried a Starbucks Strawberry Smoothie with fat-free milk. Compared to many smoothies I’ve had, it’s very “milky”. The milk and the whey are what give you 16 grams of protein in the 16 ounce drink. They also throw in some fiber and a whole banana. Not too bad. 290 cals, 1g fat, 60g carbs, 7g fiber, 16g protein, 10% calcium and iron, 35% vitamin C. [full nutrition data here]
I will say I much enjoy the smoothies from Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Smoothie King. They have many more options, of course, and higher protein. I recommend the Island Green smoothie from Tropical Smoothie Cafe, but I’d probably add a whey protein boost to it. It has kale, spinach, mango, banana and pineapple and you can’t taste the greens at all.
Good choices for fast food smoothies
- Smoothie King: Good and they use premium quality protein. But watch the serving sizes! (And prices). I got a $8 medium smoothie there last month! Yikes. Order it “Skinny” for Splenda instead of sugar. I tried the Skinny Activator but the Slim-n-Trim is also a great way to go. Activator: 240 cals, 1 g fat, 44g carbs, 19g protein, 5g fiber. Smoothie King also just came out with three Veggie Blend smoothies that are all under 278 calories. The Carrot Kale Dream is only 222 calories, with 1g fat, 50g carbs, 4g protein and 3g fiber.
- Tropical Smoothie Cafe: Great smoothies and yummy flatbread sandwiches and salads too. Lots of appropriate choices. Island Green Smoothie (w Splenda): 223 cals, <1 g fat, 57g carbs, 6g fiber, 3g protein, 1000% Vit C, 100% Vit A. Whey supplement adds 100 calories, 21g protein and 2g fat.
- Panera Bread: Panera has a wealth of healthy options and I love that they display their calories prominently. The Fat Free Superfood Smoothie with Ginseng looks great and has fat free greek yogurt. 200 cals, 34g carbs, 4g fiber, 15g protein. [nutrition calculator]
- Orange Julius: Hello, my old friend. I was raised from pre-infancy on these as my mother had constant pregnant cravings for them. The original small orange julius is fine at 210 calories, but has no protein. The larger sizes can quickly add up to 600 ore more calories! Since the olden days of my gestation, they’ve started making premium smoothies. Try a light smoothie for a snack (Pina Colada Medium Light has 190 calories) or a “premium smoothie” with a whey boost for a meal. From what I can tell, the difference between light and regular smoothies is the removal of the banana and the milk. [full nutritionals]
- Jamba Juice: I don’t have one of these near me but I remember how obsessed people get with these smoothies. I’d choose one like the Protein Berry Workout Smoothie which weighs in at 290 cals, 0g fat, 54g carbs, 3g fiber and 17g protein in the 16 oz size.
- Planet Smoothie: In the 16oz size, the Chocolate Chimp Protein Blast looks excellent, with 220 cals, 0g fat, 44g carbs, 4g fiber, and 14g protein. However all of the Protein or Workout Blast smoothies are in range and have some protein to power your muscle recovery.
- McDonald’s Smoothies: Tasty, but only 2-3g of protein. Still a good quick snack at 210-220 calories in the small 12 oz size.
- Burger King Smoothies: The rumors on the Internets claim that BK actually has some of the best smoothies out of the fast food competition (that is, over McDonald’s). I’ll leave it to you to find out, I can’t bring myself to go there since working there when I was 15. But nutritionals are the same as McDonald’s smoothies. Yogurty taste.
What is your favorite smoothie? Aside from making your own, of course. That’s the healthiest and cheapest way.