Because of their ingredients -- usually fruits, juices and milk-based products -- all fruit smoothies contain a substantial amount of carbs. If you need to reduce your carbohydrate intake, replace your carb-containing foods with other foods that are nutrient-dense, low in fat and sugar and high in protein.
Carbohydrates are essential nutrients that provide your body with energy. They are especially necessary for children and adults who participate in regular physical activity and for those who have high energy needs. Because carbohydrates are primarily found in plant-based foods, carbohydrate-containing foods are usually high in other plant-based nutrients like vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
Most fruit smoothies are made with ingredients such as berries, bananas, pureed fruits and yogurt. To vary the flavor of your smoothies, add peanut or almond butter, flavored yogurts or spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. Alternatively, add small amounts of espresso to give your fruit smoothie a different kick and a jolt of caffeine.
Because most fruit smoothies are plant-based, their carbohydrate content is going to be higher than their protein or fat content. One cup of berries, half a banana and 1 cup of milk each contain about 15 grams of carbohydrates, so a smoothie with these three ingredients has a total of about 45 grams of carbohydrates, or approximately 35 percent of your minimum daily requirement for this nutrient. For every 1/2 cup of fruit juice you include, you add an additional 15 grams of carbohydrates. When you buy a 12-ounce fruit smoothie at a specialty shop, you can estimate that its carbohydrate content will be about 50 to 60 grams per drink.
Low Carb Alternatives
If you want to reduce the carbohydrate content of your fruit smoothie, use lower-carb ingredients. Instead of juice, try adding a low-carb liquid such as a sugar-free lemonade or fruit punch. Or, reduce the carbs by replacing regular, high-carb yogurt with a low-carb or Greek yogurt, which is also low in fat but high in protein. Peanut and almond butter are also good low-carb ingredients, but be cautious because they are high in calories.
Dr. Courtney Winston is a registered/licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator and public health educator. She holds a Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her doctoral degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center. Dr. Winston was recognized in 2012 with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Emerging Leader in Dietetics Award for the state of California.