A Note On Calorie Counting: Smoothies
In general, I don’t spend my days counting exactly how many calories I’m consuming in a day or how many calories I’m burning through exercise. However, I am occasionally curious about “CICO” when I’m trying to consume as many healthy foods as possible for their micronutrient benefits. Am I eating more calories than I should in a day in order to lose the weight I want to lose? Am I eating sufficient calories to give me the energy I need for a day?
I’ve posted several times about smoothies on this site and started wondering if my assumptions about their calorie counts were accurate.
About three nights per week I have a smoothie for dinner, and 2-4 days per week I have a smoothie for lunch, and I have been assuming that each ~32oz smoothie is somewhere around 300 calories.
My fiance and I share one large smoothie because it is easier to blend a larger amount of stuff. Here is the breakdown of a typical smoothie with the approximate calories of each ingredient:
5 leaves of lacinato kale: 70 calories
2 cups fresh spinach: 20 calories
¼ c peanut butter: 376 calories
¼ c whey protein powder: 120 calories
1 cup frozen blueberries: 80 calories
1 medium avocado: 280 calories
1 stalk of celery: 10 calories
Total for the full blender: 956 calories; Total consumed by each of us (half each): 478 calories
The total is a little higher than I expected, but we don’t always use peanut butter in the smoothie. As much as I love peanut butter, it is not the calorie counter’s friend. Avocado can also be called calorically dense, but I think the health benefits outweigh the higher number of calories.
478 calories is a comfortable number for me as well because I know I’m eating something nutritionally dense and it’s a meal replacement item for me. I usually aim for something around 1800 calories a day when trying to lose weight, and about 2000 otherwise. This particular smoothie leaves me with 1322-1522 calories in the day for my remaining meals and snacks, not including calories lost in exercise.
Even if you’re not counting calories in everything you eat, it’s interesting to know where the bulk of your calories sit in a day. It’s also nice to have a visual representation of how many calories certain types of food have.
Try adding up your calories in a food journal for a day or two, and think about where you might want to adjust calories for the greatest benefit throughout the day. You probably will want to eat more when you’re going to spend the most energy early in the day, and fewer at night before you go to bed.
I got these numbers from my copy of The Calorie King and from reading nutrition labels. It’s difficult to get exact calorie counts in fresh fruits and vegetables, but an educated guess is better than nothing.
Let me know what you think about calorie counting, and if it has enlightened you to anything interesting in your diet!