Weight Loss Smoothies 101: The Best Ingredients

Healthy weight loss smoothies will only help you lose weight if they are: 1) low in calories, 2) packed with essential nutrition to fuel an active day, and 3) satisfying enough to curb cravings for more food. Weight loss smoothies are also more likely to be effective if they are easy to make. They should include ingredients that are easy to find in any grocery store and that you are likely to keep at home. Use this guide to help you to stock your kitchen with essential ingredients so you can whip up a meal replacement drink with less effort.

The Best Weight Loss Smoothie Ingredients

Some of the best smoothie ingredients are items you can buy in bulk. It’s helpful to have these items on hand:

  • Vanilla-flavored whey protein isolate is my favorite go-to protein source. There are many different brands available. I like to find one with little or no added sugar. Vanilla is the most versatile flavor. Simply add cocoa powder for nutty or chocolatey recipes. A full scoop provides about 120-130 calories. You can also use a half scoop if you don’t need the extra grams of protein or calories.

  • Chia seeds add fiber, polyunsaturated fat, and protein to your smoothie without changing the taste. They also thicken your smoothie to make if feel more filling. I usually add a tablespoon to every recipe. One tablespoon provides 70 calories.

  • Frozen bananas make smoothies creamy and provide a boost of fiber and potassium. Once every few weeks, I buy a big batch of bananas, peel them, halve them and “flash freeze” them so they don’t stick together when I toss them into a freezer bag. One half banana provides 50 calories

  • Frozen fruit keeps longer than fresh fruit and fresh fruit is such a delicious healthy treat that I don’t like to throw it in the blender. I buy large bags of frozen strawberries, raspberries, peaches, mango, or pineapple with no added sweeteners.

  • Fresh spinach or kale are both great sources of nutrients, including calcium. They also help to balance out the sweetness from sugar in fruit smoothies. One cup of spinach or kale provides 10-30 calories.

Optional ingredients include:

  • Greek yogurt or nonfat milk are both good sources of calcium, but I don’t always add them to smoothies. In fact, to keep calories in check, I often use water as my base. Almond milk is another popular base, but many brands provide added sugar or other artificial ingredients so I generally skip it.

  • Peanut butter is delicious in smoothies, but it is very high in calories and can be high in sugar. I usually skip it or simply add whole nuts like almonds.

  • Coffee powder is a yummy ingredient that provides a boost of caffeine if you like to replace your morning meal with a smoothie.

Smoothie ingredients that I avoid include juice, frozen yogurt, and sweeteners like dates, honey, or sugar as these add excess calories and sugar. Usually if you make a smoothie with fresh or frozen fruit, you don’t need added sweeteners. Vanilla protein powder will also add a boost of sweetness.

How to Make a Weight Loss Smoothie

So how do you blend the perfect smoothie for weight loss? For a sweet smoothie, simply blend fruit, fiber ( banana, chia seeds, or both) and vanilla protein powder with a cup of water and ice. If you prefer a chocolate drink, choose a dairy base (like milk or yogurt) and add cocoa powder, and vanilla protein powder to your blender. Add extra flavor with nuts or coffee powder.

Need more ideas? I often use the recipes at Blendtec and at GetHealthyU for inspiration. Got a great recipe? Share it below and I’ll try it out. I’ll be posting some of my favorite smoothie recipes in the weeks and months to come. And be sure to sign up for my newsletter if you haven't already to get diet, exercise and lifestyle tips every day.

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