Low-Calorie Smoothie Ideas

woman drinking green smoothie

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Despite their healthy reputation, smoothies are often high in sugar. Some store-bought versions pack as much as 64 grams of this sweetener per bottle. That's more than two times the amount of sugar found in many candy bars.

Additionally, some of these blended beverages are intended to be meal replacements, yet people drink them the same as ordinary thirst quenchers like water or iced tea. Over time, this can easily increase your daily calorie intake—and your waistline.

Luckily, it's easy to whip up a sippable snack that won't derail your diet. If you have a blender and some ice, you can make a tasty frozen drink. Start with one of the low-calorie bases below, add a mix-in or two, throw in an extra, and you'll have a delicious smoothie that still allows you to maintain a healthy weight. 

A Low-Calorie Smoothie Base

The base is the foundation of your smoothie. It's where your ice-cold sweet drink begins to take shape. One option is to use one of many different types of milk. A few that are healthy, low in calories, and low in sugar or sugar-free are:

  • Unsweetened almond milk:  Almond milk is sugar-free and available both refrigerated and in shelf-stable cartons. At about 30 calories a cup, it is great for creamy drinks. It comes in a variety of flavors, though since it is unsweetened, you might want to add a no-calorie sweetener (more on that below).
  • Unsweetened coconut milk: Another sugar-free starter for creamy blended drinks that offers roughly the same amount of calories is coconut milk. It has a hint of coconut flavoring and a mild creaminess. Like almond milk, it also comes in shelf-stable packs and the refrigerator, and can benefit from a no-calorie sweetener.
  • Light soymilk: The stats for soymilk are a little higher than the others at around 105 calories per cup and up to six grams of sugar, but it is also higher in protein, which is good for feeling full. It's also already sweetened, which is an added bonus.

You don't have to use milk as your base, though. You can also use reduced-calorie fruit juice drinks. These come in many flavors (orange, pineapple, apple, etc.), with natural ones containing half the sugar and calories of standard juice.   

Another coconutty option that is refreshing without the creaminess is coconut water. One cup has about 44 calories and it's high in both potassium and electrolytes. It pairs really well with cherries, pineapple, and other sweet, yet tart fruit flavors.

Healthy and Nutritious Smoothie Mix-Ins

Here's where your smoothie can get an extra kick of flavor and nutrients for a satisfying, but still nutritious drink. Good mix-ins to try include:

  • Frozen fruit: Fruit that's been frozen is ideal for blended beverages because it makes them thick and flavorful. You can freeze your own or hit the freezer aisle for mango chunks, cherries, peaches, mixed berries, and more. Pick unsweetened versions to keep the sugar content low. Partially thawing the fruit before adding it to your smoothie helps it blend better. 
  • Vegetables: Feeling adventurous? Veggies give smoothies a huge nutrient boost. Kale and spinach are popular add-ins. Cucumbers are too. The trick is to mix veggies with sweet fruit to balance out the flavor. Try combining cucumber and kale with a chopped apple and grapes, for instance. Add a splash of lemon juice and blend with a little water and ice.
  • Light yogurt: For even more creaminess, add in a fat-free yogurt that offers no more than 100 calories per serving. There are countless flavors out there, from classic strawberry to decadent apple pie. Greek yogurt creates creamy smoothies with a touch of tartness. It also adds a lot of protein. 

No-Calorie Smoothie Extras

You've already got the base and a mix-in or two. The right extras can heighten the flavor and texture of your smoothie even more. Which ones are low in calories or calorie-free?

  • Ice: Try one to two cups of crushed ice or five to eight cubes if you like a smoothie with a lot of ice shavings. Crushed ice is best, since it blends more evenly.
  • No-calorie sweetener: If you're using an unsweetened base, tart fruit, or veggies and you're looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, adding a no-calorie sweetener can help. There are plenty of natural options made from stevia or monk fruit. Compare them and see which one you like best.
  • Lemon or lime juice: Add a splash of one of these citrus fruits to bring another dimension to your blended drinks. Both lemon and lime juice can wake up your taste buds. 
  • Flavor extract: A drop or two of vanilla or coconut extract is all you need for a tasty smoothie. This extra can really heighten the flavor, though, so use it very sparingly.

Low-Calorie Smoothie Recipes

Not sure how to put all of your options together to make a delicious low calorie smoothie? Try one of these suggestions.

Berry Mango Smoothie

In a blender, combine:

  • 3/4 cup frozen unsweetened mango chunks
  • 1/2 cup seedless cucumber
  • 5 frozen unsweetened strawberries
  • 12 mint leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 no-calorie sweetener packet
  • 1 cup crushed ice

You'll get a jumbo serving of blended deliciousness for around 120 calories.

Tropical Morning Smoothie

For this smoothie, blend:

  • 3/4 cup light peach yogurt
  • 1/4 cup canned crushed pineapple in juice (not drained)
  • 1/2 banana, sliced and frozen
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 cup crushed ice

Blend and sip for a 185-calorie drink.

Coconut Berry Smoothie

Combine:

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla coconut milk beverage
  • 3/4 cup frozen unsweetened raspberries
  • 1/8 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 no-calorie sweetener packets
  • 1 cup crushed ice

Blend away and enjoy for just 105 calories. 

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  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central: Smoothie.