Weight Watchers Smoothies: Blending 1 Smart Point into 4

This week I learned how to turn one Smart Point into four Smart Points through the magical power of blending. Yup, you heard me. My unblended smoothie was only one Smart Point and 30 seconds later it was four Smart Points. This lead me down the rabbit hole of researching Weight Watchers smoothies and trying to understand why.Weight Watchers smoothies

But, before I go off on my rant, I need to give credit where credit is due. If you follow the Weight Watchers program, you will lose weight. A recent study from the Annals of Internal Medicine shared that at 12 months Weight Watchers participants achieved at least 2.6% greater weight loss than those assigned to the control group who had no intervention, printed materials only, or three sessions or less with a provider. This means that structure combined with social support and accountability rule in weight loss.

If you can find a healthy program that gives all of what you need for free or at a lower cost, go for it. If not, try finding the right program for you and getting it cheaper through my referral link on Ebates. You’ll find discounts for Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Beachbody, Medifast, 24 Hour Fitness, P90X and more. If you’re new, you’ll also get a $10 gift card, and I’ll get a $5 referral credit, which is basically like buying me a smoothie. Thank you!

Why Do Weight Watchers Smoothies Increase Smart Points?

When you decide to turn your solid foods into liquids, Weight Watchers dramatically increases the Smart Points values. It’s not funny and it’s hard to swallow if you’re a Weight Watcher’s fan like me. To illustrate, I created a recipe that I call my Premier Protein Green Smoothie (recipe below) that started out as one Smart Point until I blended it into four Smart Points. So frustrating.

I asked my Weight Watchers personal coach to elaborate on why this happens, and she pointed me to an article on the Weight Watcher’s Website that explained their reasoning. I’ll sum it up next, but you can read it from the horse’s mouth here as well.

In short, the reason why you have to count your Smart Points when you blend them is because you won’t feel the same amount of fullness had you eaten them in their solid form. According to my coach, “the intent is to recognize how detrimental beverage consumption can be to a healthy diet and weight loss efforts.”

I think my Weight Watcher’s personal coach needs a bit more training because the Weight Watcher’s article specifically states that the smoothie will be gone in a few sips resulting in the feeling of being hungry much sooner. It’s not the beverage that’s detrimental; it’s the speed of eating or drinking that leads to the hunger. Except, Weight Watcher’s didn’t explain it that way. They alluded to it, so I’ll give them “points” (pun intended) for trying. Let’s continue.

Weight Watchers is Right – Sort of

When I asked my Weight Watcher’s chat coach to explain why a bowl of soup with the same ingredients of my smoothie would have fewer points, I was told that my body digests it differently. The article my coach referenced was the exact same one from Weight Watchers that I referenced at the beginning of this article. Unfortunately, it doesn’t explain why my body would digest it differently. The coach couldn’t find an alternative article, so I’m guessing that maybe she meant I’d have a quick insulin spike.

In the Weight Watcher’s article, they indicate that the research proves that liquids don’t match solids in satiety with the source as Cassady BA, Considine RV, Mattes RD. Beverage consumption, appetite, and energy intake: what did you expect? Am J Clin Nutr 2012;95:587-93. Weight Watchers didn’t include a link in their article, but I found the study here. I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, but I did wonder why would soup not be considered in the same category as a smoothie.

If you’re going to cite an article about liquids, then go all in. A liquid is a liquid regardless of whether or not it’s a smoothie or soup. So why do fruits and veggies get a pass when it comes to soup, salsa, sauce or stews but not when it’s in smoothie form?

The answer is time.

It’s More Important to Eat Slowly

As indicated in the Weight Watcher article, most people down smoothies and drinks like my ShihTzu gobbles down his treats. Drinks are convenient, easy to consume and are perfect for people on the go. But, it’s not the form of the food that matters, and that’s where I think Weight Watcher’s came up short in their explanation. They gave a one sentence explanation of this under the image in their article, but for the most part I felt they were explaining it the same way my high school teachers said to me back in the day: “because I said so”.

There’s a newer study out that found that it’s not the form of the fruits and vegetables, but rather the time that it takes to consume them that drives satiety. M J Martens, MS Westerterp-Plantenga. Mode of consumption plays a role in alleviating hunger and thirst. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2012 Mar;20(3):517-24.

Soups and salsa simply take more time to consume than a smoothie, so if you drink your smoothie slower the results should be the same. I did my non-scientific experiment and found that I didn’t get as hungry if I took 30 minutes to drink my smoothie. The very best researched illustration of this point is from Michael Greger, M.D. at Nutrition.org:

When you slow down, your brain recognizes that you’re full before you’ve had a chance to shove the entire plate in your mouth. When you’re drinking Weight Watchers smoothies fast, you don’t give your brain a chance to figure out if you’re full or not. Of course, there is some speculation that drinking a smoothie slower results in oxidation of some of the nutrients, but I was unable to find a scientific study to prove that.

Does Sugar Absorption Play a Role?

I pondered about what my coach said about the insulin spike and wondered if it’s rapid sugar absorption that causes the hunger? There was one study that demonstrated that downing an apple puree quickly, caused insulin spike.

Why does this matter? Well, your body prefers a steady stream of sugar so it uses insulin and glucagon to regulate itself. For a detailed explanation, see the article from Harvard School of Public Health. Otherwise, here’s the simple version of what happens:

Your digestive system has to break down whatever you eat.

  • Carbohydrates from your smoothie break down into sugar.
  • That sugar enters your blood stream.
  • Your pancreas responds by producing a hormone called insulin.
  • Insulin tells your body’s cells to absorb the blood sugar into energy or store it for later in your liver.
  • As the cells absorb the sugar, the levels of blood sugar start to fall.
  • Your pancreas responds again by producing a hormone called glucagon.
  • Glucagon tells your liver to release the stored sugar it didn’t use earlier.

When so much demand is placed on your cells, they get tired and eventually stop producing insulin. Enter type 2 diabetes.

Even if you don’t have diabetes, sometimes when you get a rush of sugar, your insulin and glucagon work hard enough and fast enough to reduce your blood sugar and you become hypoglycemic. In that case, you may feel tired or lethargic and reach for another carbohydrate to pick you back up. I know I do.

Even if you don’t become hypoglycemic, you may be come tired. When your body is tired the best thing to do is to rest. But, we don’t live in a society that values a nap in the middle of the work day. That’s why we grab coffee, energy drinks and food to bring up our energy levels. Maybe a short meditation or a quick break would do us some good?

The good news for smoothie drinkers is that studies have shown that smoothies don’t necessarily cause a mega spike in insulin. For example, this study: Bioactives in blueberries improve insulin sensitivity in obese, insulin-resistant men and women demonstrated the same insulin response to smoothie berries as it did to non-pureed blueberries.

So the answer is that sugar absorption probably doesn’t play a huge role as long as you’re using the right fruit. What’s the right fruit? Most studies are pointing to berries as being better than others.

Don’t Give Up on Smoothies

I believe that the right type of beverage consumption is healthy, and I’ve seen people do really well on liquid diets. Look at Joe Cross, who sold a ton of Breville juicers after he produced the documentary, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. A ton of people started consuming healthy beverages, and some of them were really successful at losing and keeping the weight off. On a side note, that movie was probably the best piece of content marketing I’ve ever seen.

I have juiced in the past, but honestly, I prefer smoothies. The truth is that you may actually get more nutrition from smoothies. In some studies, including this one, the particle size of the fruit or vegetable increased nutrition absorption significantly.

So, if you’re going to have a smoothie, drink it slowly. You can add some flaxseed to it to thicken it up and drink it through a straw over the span of 30 minutes. Then, your smoothie will act just like soup. But, you don’t get a pass from Weight Watchers on this theory. You’ll still need to count those points! Hey…if you’re going to be on Weight Watchers, you should at least play by the rules. Otherwise, you can’t blame them if it doesn’t work. A program is a program whether you like it or not.

Smoothies are a great way to get the nutrients you need. Not convinced? See this video:

Do What Works For You

My weight loss journey is not a temporary quick fix. I know this. I’ve tried everything to lose weight and some things have worked fabulously, while other things haven’t. My journey is long, but one day I’ll find the perfect combination of diet, exercise, mind and spirit that works for me.

In the meantime, I’ll keep with Weight Watchers and continue researching nutrition. Who knows? Maybe I’ll become a holistic nutritionist one day. Wouldn’t that be something? For now…I’m just a gal on a mission to get healthy and lose a few pounds in the process.

Here’s the Green Smoothies Recipe that I promised. It’s four smart points after you blend it, which as you’ve read so far is typical of Weight Watchers smoothies. I hope you like it!

  • Premier Protein Green Smoothie Recipe
  • ½ Premier Protein Vanilla Shake
  • 2 cups organic spring mix
  • ¼ cup strawberries
  • ½ banana

Add all of the ingredients in your blender in the order above. Blend until you can only see micro-sized green pieces. Drink and enjoy!

So there you have it, the somewhat researched reason why Weight Watchers smoothies increase Smart Points when you blend fruit and vegetables in a smoothie. Is it right? Well…it’s their program and they make the rules. So technically, it’s right. From a science perspective, they’re probably not right. Calories don’t increase just because you blend them (but apparently, Smart Points do).

I’d love to hear what you think. Do you think Weight Watchers smoothies should go up in Smart Points because you’re blending the fruits and vegetables? Leave your comment below or join the discussion on Facebook.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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12 thoughts on “Weight Watchers Smoothies: Blending 1 Smart Point into 4

  1. I think points should not change after blending a smoothie. I’m not on Weight Watchers at this time so I’m not real familiar with the program. If using smoothies as a way to get your fruits and veggies and you are loosing points (calorie intake), are you really doing what is right for your body and loosing weight corectly for long time success? Sounds like a little deception might be going on. Maybe W.W. needs to really teach about the point increase and/or add a side note to the recipe to drink it slowly so points aren’t increased. SO what is wrong with having a couple of more smoothies for 1 point though out the day for a fast pick me up instead of grabbing coffee or an energy drink. Hum….more fruits and veggies which leads to a healthier life style.
    Be completely honest Weight Watchers!!!

    • Right on Rhonda. I totally agree, which is why I had to do the research on this post. I think it took me about 8 hours of research just to come to the conclusion I did. OH…and my green smoothie tastes great today…lol.

  2. I don’t get hungry when I have smoothies. I get real hungry if I have any form of cereal or oatmeal. We juiced for three years, lost 35 lb each and kept it off. But then we started getting hungry quickly. So I switched to smoothies. I have celiac and actually the onslought of drinking a juice was the only time I had energy. My gut doesn’t use the nutrients due to the damage from gluten. PreWW I used a fruit yogurt and often fruit juice in each smoothie. Now I use almond milk or fat free plain yogurt but not daily. I don’t buy into the points are more. I think your point of soup liquid vs juice or smoothie liquid is a great one!

    • Thank you Michelle! Have you tried avocado in your smoothie? I was listening to a podcast this week and the doctor said that the healthy fat in the smoothie really makes her full up to 6 hours! I don’t last that long, but I still like the creamy texture

  3. I started WW a week ago. I do a premier protein smoothie too. I shake, 2 cups spinach and 1 cup fruit ( I mix frozen berries and frozen banana). This is my breakfast. I count it as 2 points for the premier. I don’t use my weekly or activity points so I’m not counting the fruit/veg. I don’t go for a snack until closer to lunch and it is usually a string cheese or egg. I’ll stick with my smoothly meal rather than 8 whole fruits a day! I keep fruits to 3/4 per day including my smoothie

  4. I’ve never been satisfied with the answer given as to why we have to point our smoothies. I don’t eat anything more until lunchtime wether I have a smoothie for breakfast or anything else, so I don’t think I am over consuming in any way, or having more calories. Like you say, go with what works for you. Thanks for this information.

  5. I had this same question, just upset the leader, but still thought about it. I’ve decided that for me, the problem is that smoothies can use up a lot of fruit at once, more calories than I would have eaten fresh and whole. I think I can use less fruit in my smoothie, say about 6 oz total, and be able to not count the fruit. I’ll let you know if I’m wrong.;)

  6. I have been on WW for around 5 weeks, and I have managed to loose around 8.5 Kg in these weeks. I did not know either about this difference in point scoring with blended fruits, as I use Nutribullet, which simply blends all fruits / vegetables and I normally add with water.

    I have been using it regularly, every day making blends of Oranges, Oranges and Bananas, Oranges and Carrots, Strawberries with water or Skimmed milk.
    It has given me tremendous amount of energy, and I have also been going regular to the gym in this same period.

    Now I saw this information, I checked with WW SmartPoints system, as an example 2 oranges + 2 bananas give you 18 points, while if I eat them as fruits they give you 0 points.
    I went on the chat, and the story there was that it was due to the fibre being broken down, however that is incorrect for Blending, it’s correct for juicing, but the fibres remain when blended, at least that’s what I am lead to believe from checking online articles on the issue.

    On the issue of fullness I can understand, however, the way I have used it, mostly been Oranges or Oranges and Carrots. One serving would be example 2 medium oranges , or 2 Oranges and 2 Carrots – added with loads of water, in total the whole Blended drink would be close to 1 litre. Drinking this is for me very filling, and has for me helped me fill gaps when I otherwise would have wanted something sweet.

    Now if I was going go by the Smart points given by WW for this drink, than this would quickly be 40 – 50 points a day. So there is something wrong with this equation in my opinion. As I would not have been able to loose this much is such short time, if this had been so many points.

    I will closely monitor this forward, but I believe this is not correct. In the Chat they said it would be easy to drink 12 Oranges if you make it liquid, that might be correct, however if you make it less fruit with water, I can’t see how a natural blended fruit can suddenly go from 0 points to 18 points just because it has been blended. (note not Juiced, this is a different matter)

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  8. This article was great and gave me some answers to my own questions about the point jump when making smoothies. I was adding a smoothie recipe which all ingredients except almonds was zero points—they were 1 point. The only thing that increased were the fruits!! The apple went from zero to five and a banana went from zero to four. But the almonds stayed one and the nonfat Greek yogurt and almond milk stayed the same. My—what I thought would be one point—smoothie turned into 9. That seemed like an awful big jump—I could see maybe 2 points because you are skipping the chewing process and blended food takes less work to digest but a four and five point jump seems too high. If I didn’t drink the smoothie I probably wouldn’t get in my daily fruit/veggie serving. I just count it as if I was eating it in a bowl since the smoothies keep me full until my next meal. I am losing and if I stop I guess I will reevaluate. Thank you again for a very informative article.

  9. Well…I have been on and of WW. It’s a great program. I was told the reason smoothies were more points is because when “eating” fruits your body uses energy to burn off the sugar because of the action of chewing. On the other hand if your using your smoothie as breakfast you just had a 4 point breakfast!! Thank you for the info. Very interesting read!!