The Skinny on Juice-Bar Smoothies

As the summer heat begins to settle in, more and more of us are passing up our favorite coffee-shop concoctions for frosty, fruity treats from the local juice joint. Although juice bars often make lofty promises about things like energy boosts, weight loss, and super health, that's not always what you get. Here's how to get the most from your smoothies, and how to make the best choices–and avoid the worst–at some of the juiciest chains.

The next time you step up to the counter at any juice bar, remember these three tips from University of Miami sports nutritionist Lisa Dorfman, RD:

  1. Downsize. Small is the new large! Although sizes vary from bar to bar, most "smalls" are at least 16 fluid ounces–that's 2 full cups!
  2. Up the protein. Make that full feeling last longer by adding fat-free or low-fat yogurt, milk, or soymilk. That added protein slows the drink's digestion, keeping you satisfied longer.
  3. Keep it real. Dorfman skips most of the additives, enhancers, blasters, and boosters, finding fruit smoothies plenty healthy without mystery mix-ins. "Besides, you could have a negative reaction to stimulants like ginseng or guarana, or get much more of a vitamin or mineral than you need."

The Payoff for Choosing Smart

The built-in reward for slurping up smarter smoothie selections? Most have at least a serving or two of fruit–and eating a diverse diet that includes four servings of fruit per day can make your RealAge as much as 4 years younger.

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