A major reason for the popularity of smoothies is their chameleon-like ability to be transformed into whatever you need them to be. Whether you just want a sweet treat, a workout drink, a health-boost or want to lose weight – smoothies can do it all. It’s what makes them so great, well that and the fact that they are excessively delicious.
Smoothies & Weight Loss
Because smoothies are so adaptable and mouthwateringly yummy, it’s easy to get carried away and add ingredients that turn your smoothie into a sugar-loaded, super-sweet calorie bomb and to supersize your portion size.
But healthy foods have calories too, and when it comes down to basic math, they count just as much as any other calorie (calculate you daily calories needs with this calorie calculator)
All that to say this, you need to have a clear idea why you are making a smoothie in order to control what ingredients you’re adding and how much you’re making.
Furthermore, while a healthy low calorie smoothie can be a great addition to a weight loss diet, as done right it is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and even protein, it’s only one part of the whole (read ).
To lose weight healthily, you also need to consider the rest of your diet, incorporate a weight loss workout plan if you are able, and keep an eye on other areas such as your sleeping habits and stress levels. This holistic approach is key to achieving healthy and sustainable weight loss results.
Read more: How to lose weight
Healthy Weight Loss Smoothies
An oft cited rule of weight loss is to avoid drinking your calories. Therefore, it is important that a weight loss smoothie isn’t simply a drink, but more of a filling meal or snack.
A nutrient-rich smoothie allows you to cut back on calories to lose weight, but provides your body with sufficient vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients important for good health.
This will help the weight loss process too. If you are nutritionally deficient, you’re more likely to be tired, struggle with food cravings, feel sluggish, or suffer outright ill health.
Goal: A healthy weight loss smoothie should be low in calories, high in nutrients, and filling.
Read more: 18 Healthy smoothie recipes
So, let’s get into how to make a weight loss smoothie in detail.
How to Make a Weight Loss Smoothie
1 Choose Your Base Liquid
Water has, of course, zero calories, and will be the lowest calorie liquid, along with tea, that you can add to your smoothie.
Milk will add micronutrients and protein to your smoothie. Coconut water is rich in electrolytes, making it hydrating and a natural energy drink.
As a rule of thumb, don’t add fruit juices to a weight loss smoothie. First of all, you’re adding whole fruit to your smoothie, so you don’t have to add fruit juice too. It’s overkill. Furthermore, in fruit juice the fiber has been removed from the fruit, leaving it high in sugar and calories. Adding green juices is fine – in fact great!
Below, you’ll find a list of different liquids to add to your smoothie:
- Cow’s Milk
- Vegan milk
- Coconut water
- Tea (herbal, green, black)
- Black coffee
- Kombucha (unflavored)
Whole (cow’s) milk may be higher in calories than skim milk. However, dietary fat is important in helping you feel satiated. Indeed, research suggests that high-fat dairy products (e.g. milk, yogurt), may help prevent weight gain.123
Use water, tea, coconut water, or milk as your smoothie base to make it a low-calorie smoothie. Skip the juices – they’ll increase the calorie content of the smoothie, and you’ll probably be adding fruit anyway.
2 Add Fruit & Veggies
Fruit and vegetables will make up most of the carbohydrate and fiber content, and much of the nutrients in your smoothie. Fruit makes smoothies tasty, but tends to be higher in calories than vegetables.
Read more: How to make a smoothie without banana
Watch your portion sizes when adding fruit. Aim for no more than 2 cups of fruit per serving.
If you can, try to add leafy greens to your smoothie. If you’ve never had a green smoothie, start by adding a ½ cup of raw baby spinach (check out health benefits of green smoothies). You wont taste it!
Watch your portions of fruit, keep to about 2 cups per serving. There’s no limit on leafy greens.
Read more: How to make a green smoothie
3 Add Protein
Weight loss smoothies that serve a meal replacement shake (e.g. instead of breakfast) should ideally include protein. Protein helps you feel full, and helps make your smoothie more of a meal.
Protein is also important to maintain muscle mass. During weight loss, you tend to lose some muscle along with body fat. How much muscle you lose will depend to some degree on how much protein you’re consuming.
Furthermore, if you’re exercising, fuelling your muscles with protein will aid recovery from your workout and maximize your results. So any post-workout smoothie should include protein.
Good protein sources include the following:
- Greek yogurt (twice as much protein as regular yogurt)
- Silken tofu
- Cottage cheese
- Ricotta cheese
- Protein powder (e.g. whey, hemp, pea, or brown rice protein)
Add protein to make your smoothie filling, feed your muscles and to make it more of a meal.
Read more: Best vegan protein sources
4 Add Healthy Fat
Fat really has got a bad rap. Yes, fat is high in calories, but fat in moderation has it’s place in good health and even weight loss.
Fat helps your body to absorb certain vitamins and is vital for proper growth, development and general good health.
Fat is also important because it provides taste to foods, smoothness to smoothies, and, significantly, helps you feel full and less hungry. Just think about, when was the last time you ate a no-fat diet-food and felt happy about it and satisfied? Likely, never. Furthermore, some healthy fats (e.g. in olive oil, avocado) can actually help you lose belly fat!45
Adding a little fat to your weight loss smoothie will make it more effective in warding off hunger and keeping you healthy. Just be sure to add healthy (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fats.
If your smoothie doesn’t have any ingredients that contain fat already (e.g. whole milk), add 1 tablespoon of healthy fat per serving:
- Nuts/ nut butters/ seeds (also doubles as a protein source)
- Avocado (great alternative to bananas for adding thickness and smoothness)
- Coconut oil
- Flaxseeds/ flaxseed oil
- Chia seeds
- Tahini (sesame paste)
Add 1 tablespoon of healthy fats such as avocado, nut butters, and flaxseeds. Healthy fats are important for optimal health, help your body absorb nutrients, and make weight loss smoothies more satisfying.
5 Make it Thick
Make your smoothie filling by adding ingredients that thicken the smoothie, if you haven’t already. Great smoothie-thickening ingredients include:
- Chia seeds
- Frozen fruit
Read more: How to make a smoothie thick and creamy
6 How to Sweeten
Unbelievably, this is the reason it is vital you whip up your own smoothies. Bought smoothies often contain a huge amount of added sugar, with some popular smoothies containing several times the entire recommended daily amount of sugar in one smoothie! Even “light” smoothies easily exceed the daily-recommended amount, and add artificial sweeteners on top of that to boot.
Ripe fruit: Generally, use ripe fruits in your smoothies. They give you the most bang for your buck, in terms of sweetness, making it less likely that you’ll need to sweeten your smoothie further.
Spices: Add spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, and extracts such as vanilla and almond, which sweeten without adding calories.
Natural sweeteners: If you do need a little extra sweetness, use natural sweeteners like stevia (no calories) or xylitol (tastes almost like sugar and has health benefits) to sweeten your smoothie.
You can also use honey, molasses or maple syrup, which, unlike stevia and xylitol, contain nutrients, but are higher in calories. However, beware that some sweeteners like xylitol can cause bloating. Below, you’ll find the calorie content of 2 teaspoons of sweetener.
Go easy on the sweeteners. Try to use only fruit to sweeten your smoothie. But if you need a little more stick to natural sweeteners such as molasses, xylitol and honey.
7 How to Boost Flavor
Boost the flavor and nutritional power of your smoothie without adding calories by adding spices, extracts or fresh herbs.
- Herbs: Mint, basil, lemongrass, lavender, cilantro/coriander (green smoothies), parsley (green smoothies)
- Spices: Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, clove, cardamom, cayenne pepper
- Extracts: vanilla, almond, coconut, peppermint / mint extract
- Fruit: Lemon/ lime juice
Increase flavor without adding calories by adding spices or fresh herbs.
8 Weight Loss Smoothie Add-Ins
If you haven’t added any of these ingredients already, try adding one to your smoothie:
- Green tea. This makes a great low-calorie liquid base for any smoothie and has the extra benefit of being chock full of antioxidants and other healthy plant compounds.
While more research is needed, studies suggest that antioxidants called catechins in green tea can trigger the release of fat from your cells, boost fat burning (particularly during exercise), elevate metabolism, and may help reduce belly fat.6789 Extra health bonus? Green tea may also decrease (bad) LDL cholesterol.10
- Cinnamon. This spice is a tasty way of boosting the flavor and sweetness of a smoothie without adding calories. But that’s not all.
Research shows that cinnamon slows the rate at which the stomach empties after meals, which keeps blood sugar levels more steady and also leaves you feeling fuller for longer.11 It may also have beneficial effects on hormone insulin, which plays a role in losing weight and type 2 diabetes.12
- Dark chocolate. Studies shows that dark chocolate may improve insulin sensitivity and decrease appetite.1314 One study found that frequent chocolate consumption may be associated with a lower body mass index (though that is not the same as proving eating chocolate causes a lower body mass index).15 It may also boost mood and reduce the levels of stress.16
Chocolate is high in calories and may contain added sugar depending on the brand. Therefore, opt for unsweetened cocoa power or cocoa nibs.
- Beans. Rich in nutrients, fiber and protein, but low in calories, evidence suggests that beans are highly satiating. Beans also appear to keep blood sugar levels steady. In other words, beans help suppress appetite and stave off hunger for longer. 1718
- Ginger. Ginger contains active ingredients that are structurally similar to capsaicin, a compound found in hot peppers, that increase metabolism. Ginger is linked to reduced feelings of hunger, but also improves digestion.192021
Add a tablespoon of fresh grated ginger to your smoothie for a little kick.
- Vinegar. Vinegar helps you feel fuller for longer by slowing the passage of food from the stomach into the small intestine, which reduces the blood sugar spike after a high carb meal and decreases calorie intake for the rest of the day.2223 Research shows that regularly consuming 1 or 2 tablespoons of vinegar is associated with lowered body weight and belly fat.24
Adding vinegar adds a little acidic flavor to a smoothie. It’s a bit like adding a squeeze of lemon; it adds a bit of oomph.
- Yogurt. Yogurt is associated with lower body weight, weight gain, belly fat, and body fat.25 Research suggests that yogurt can help increase weight loss during a calorie-controlled diet, especially from around the tummy area. Research also shows that it not only increases fat loss, but also helps prevent the loss of muscle that occurs during weight loss.26
What are your favorite weight loss smoothie ingredients? Did we miss anything? Do you use smoothies to help you lose weight? Let us know!
Read more: How to make a smoothie
Great information on many things I didn’t know before. Thanks!
Does anyone know a good book for Smoothie Receipes? I came across some but my biggest issue is that most of them do not give you the calories. Even worse: Most ebooks I bought (yes, I was so stupid!) where titled “Best Smoothies for Weight Loss” or similar, pretending to being a milestone for your diet, and yet do not give any idea of how much calories you consume. Anyone out there with a good idea?
Maybe I missed it, but how many ounces of a smoothie should you drink per meal?
Hi! Thanks so much for the great info! I’ve started adding almond milk and chia gel to my smoothies and it’s great! One very detailed question–do you know how many calories would be in 1T of chia seeds gel? I’m assuming once you add the water and soak them the volume changes, so 1T gel does not equal 1T raw seeds right?
And if you add greens in your smoothie, such as kale or spinach, you will be adding a lot more nutrition to it without changing the flavor much. You have to experiment with how much you put in. Spinach doesn’t add much flavor, but kale can overpower the flavor if you put too much in.
Great informative article! I have been making protein smoothies for weightloss for about a year now. For thickening and “filling (the stomach) properties”, I use Glucommanan powder and sometimes guar gum. Makes me feel full for much longer than if I didn’t use anything else. Recently I started using chia seeds in addition to the flax seeds that I already was using. I feel full for hours after drinking one of my loaded smoothies. Have used psyllium husk powder as well. I will have to try some of your suggestions now! Thanks for the info!
This was a great article! I think I struggle with portion control with my smoothies. If I am trying to loose weight what should my portion be?
Best advice would be to count the calories in the smoothie. And decide if it’s a “snack” or a replacement meal in your daily diet and how many calories that should be. 🙂
I would love to have a weight loss smoothie recipe
Hey I want to get something straight. I want to loose weight but I hear about the green smoothies diet,I am doing research and I come across your site. For example: 1 cup red grapes, 1 orange, 1 pear, 2stalk celery, 2 cups of spinach, 1/2 cup water if I drink that as a meal for breakfast and lunch as a meal replacement and a healthy dinner like 1 cup of plain rice, 4oz chicken breast along with lettuce, cucumber and salad with a glass of water will I loose weight? Next question can I used spinach for 7 days to make my smoothie, the next 7 days I can used romain lettuce, and another 7 days I used kale is that a good way to rotate my green? Urgently want answer.
Can I make 2 of these a day ?
This is GREAT information for making smoothies!!! ANY smoothie!!! THANK YOU!!!!!
Im gonna try this weight loss smoothy, will get back to you after a month hopefully with good results.
Thanks Pauline! Hope you enjoy it! 🙂
What kind of vinigar? Will any kind work?
Nice and awesome article, love it and I love smoothies! Thanks for sharing! Keep posting
Hello! Should I use raw almonds or roasted almonds? Because I’m planning to buy a big bunch and don’t know which one to buy. Thanks!
Raw almonds! 🙂
I cannot eat seeds.. Will the chia gel have the same effect on my stomach as if I ate the seed??
The chia gel will thicken the smoothie and make it more filling. However, when you add chia seeds to a smoothie and drink it immediately, it wont make the smoothie thick, but they will expand in your stomach and make the smoothie filling. So in terms of making the smoothie filling, the main difference is simply that the gel makes the smoothie thick, while the chia seeds don’t (unless you let it sit a while) make the smoothie thick until it’s in your tummy.
Love this info,..
Just wanted to know, What are the pro’s and con’s for U.C.(ulcerative colitis) patients on juicing?
I understand I must talk to my Dr. before starting. Thanks so much.
Lisa Beau 🙂
This is a great article, loving it and I love smoothies! Thanks for sharing!
I really love this article, but I read some where years ago that mixing all these great things actually counteracts their nurtional value in a smoothie. I can’t remember the exact wording, but it was basically saying that mixing fruits and veggies inhabits the amount of nutrients you’re getting from the veggies.
Any truth to this? You seem like the experts. Either way I’m still gonna make some super shakes like y’all suggest. Thanks for the inspiration.
I’ve heard the same thing, but never really found any solid scientific research to back that up. I think this statement sums it up rather nicely:
“Undoubtedly, the theory originated from someone who experienced digestive and other health problems after combining fruits and vegetables in the same meal. The observation may have been accurate for that particular individual, but the assumption that everyone is the same and reacts the same to a specific food combination is well, nutty.
Dr. Collin makes the same error in judgment when he assumes that because combining fruits and vegetables in the same meal works for him it will work for anyone; implying that the theory about not combining these two food groups in the same meal is therefore invalid. There is no reason to assume this is true because what works well for one person may not work well for another. We do not all look identical, why should we assume our nutritional needs are the same? I have had clients who could not eat raw fruits or vegetables; they had to cook them. Who am I to tell them they’re wrong? Organic tomatoes are good, but some people break out in hives when they eat them. Does this mean we should all avoid organic tomatoes? Of course not.
Health is a state of balance, and that balance is often unique to the individual. Finding the right nutritional balance is a self-discovery process. It is the job of the nutritionist and other health professionals to help guide and support the patient through this discovery process; giving advice and building strategies to find what works best for the patient while maintaining a general state of nutritional balance and sufficiency.”
John W. Cartmell, MS
Hi, I really liket the smoothie, article that I’ve got the urge to go and make one right away 🙂
But what about a glass of red wine? I know it’s best to stay away from alcohol. But I can’t do without my 1 glass of red wine a day. red wine have great health benefits and if staying to one glass a day it won’t hurt.
You’re right some studies do show that red wine does have health benefits (read this interesting article on Wikipedia on how wine affects the body).
Here are some tips:
1. When drinking wine, remember that it’s best consumed with meals – not on an empty stomach.
2. Also, portion control is important here. Wine glasses are getting bigger and bigger, so be sure you know how much wine you’re actually drinking, otherwise the health risks start to outweigh the benefits. For example, one large glass of wine a day may increase the risk of breast cancer, high blood pressure, liver disease and other problems. Moderate alcohol intake is considered one 5 oz glass of wine per day for women, two for men. However, most people overpour. So next time, first grab a measuring cup and fill it with 5 oz of wine, then pour it into your usual wine glass and mark how high the wine reaches. Also, watch portion size when dining out.
3. One standard serving of red wine (5 fl oz) tallies up to 120 calories, so take that into consideration when adding up your total calorie requirements for the day.
4. Moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. So if you’re drinking one glass of wine a day, cut out other forms of alcohol.
Like you said, wine in moderation is okay. Most of the problems stem from excessive drinking. But as you can see, it’s pretty easy to drink excessively, without even knowing. So the main thing is to key a strict eye on how much you’re drinking.
Hope this answers your question! Happy smoothie making! 🙂