How to Make a Balanced Smoothie
diet-guide

How to Make a Balanced Smoothie

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Smoothies are such a quick and easy way to prepare a healthy breakfast or post-workout snack to enjoy at home or on-the-go.

Even if preparing a smoothie is super simple, knowing how to make a balanced one is not that straightforward.

So, we are here to help you with essential tips on how make your next smoothie super nutritious thanks to a balanced combination of healthy fats, proteins, and fibre-rich carbohydrates.

Moreover, we'll see how using certain ingredients over others or adding superfoods to you smoothie can increase your intake of vitamins, minerals and trace elements and boost your overall wellbeing.

How to Make a Balanced Smoothie

Making a balanced smoothie is just like making a healthy meal.

So, when your smoothie is prepared with the right combination of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and provides a source of essential vitamins and minerals, it can really be considered as a healthy snack or a meal replacement.

A healthy and balanced smoothie recipe should have the following components:

  1. Liquid Base

  2. Fibre-rich Carbohydrates

    • Fruits

    • Vegetables

    • Low GI Carbohydrates Boosters

  3. Lean Proteins

  4. Healthy Fats

  5. Health Boosters

1. Liquid Base

First thing when preparing your smoothie is to choose the liquid base. Different ingredients affect the texture and consistency of the drink but also its flavour and nutritional profile.

By changing the amount used you can make the smoothie runnier or thicker according to taste.

Water & Brewed Tea

Choose water or brewed tea if you prefer keeping the calories intake low or if you don’t want to affect the overall taste of your smoothie.

By adding brewed tea like green tea or white tea in your smoothie you can benefit from the detoxifying properties of these plants and also boost your metabolism.

Coconut Water

Coconut water is a classic choice in many smoothies as:

  • It is low in calories, fats, and sugars

  • Adds a light texture and it’s perfect for tropically flavoured smoothies

  • Promotes hydration and restores electrolytes after exercise as it’s rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sodium.

Cow Milk

If you want to give more richness and add nutrients to your smoothie you can choose milk as a liquid base. Compared to plant-based milk, cow milk has more fats but also more proteins. Moreover, milk is:

  • A source of calcium and vitamin D, essential for strong bones and teeth

  • Contain all the essential amino acids

If possible, prefer semi-skimmed milk to skimmed milk as it is higher in fat soluble vitamins.

Plant-Based Milk

Plant-based milks are a great alternative to cow milk and are suitable for lactose intolerants and vegans.

There are different drinks and they vary in their properties:

  1. Almond Milk

    • Low in calories, fats and carbs compared to the other milks

    • Adds a nutty flavour and creaminess

  2. Oat Milk

    • Higher in carbohydrates but very low in fats

    • Adds a very creamy and thick texture without affecting the flavour

  3. Soy Milk

    • Protein content similar to cow milk

    • Doesn’t affect flavour

In the chart below, you can the different nutrient profile for the liquid base ingredients and make a choice that meets your needs and preferences.

best base for smoothies

2. High-Fibre Carbohydrates

After choosing the liquid base, it’s time to move onto the bulk of your smoothie, namely the carbohydrates.

A balanced smoothie should have a combination of quality carbohydrates to make you feel satiated for longer reducing the need for snacking during the day.

These include fruit, vegetables, and whole grains as they contain both simple carbohydrates - known as sugars - and complex carbohydrates - which include starches and fibres.

Fruits are higher in sugars and grains are higher in fibres, while vegetables are in between.

A common mistake is to prepare a fruit-only smoothie which leads to an unwanted sugar overload in your meal which is not really healthy.

How Many Carbs

Now that you know which types of carbohydrates to use in your smoothie, it’s important to use the right amount.

As carbohydrates should make up one-third of your food intake and provide from 40% to 60% of the calories in a meal, when preparing your smoothie aim to use:

  1. Fruit

    • 1 serving of fruit

      80g or 1 medium-sized fruit, two small fruits or a handful of berries

  2. Vegetables

    • 2 servings of vegetables

      80g or 1 salad cup of raw vegetables

  3. Whole Grains

    • 1 serving of whole grains

      30g of oat, bran, or muesli

Fruits

With fruit, really anything would do for a smoothie.

You can pick your favourite fruit and experiment with tasty combinations, but we also recommend you go with what’s in season as it will taste better and be more nutritious (and cheaper!).

To make it easier for you to choose here is a list of fruits according to their main properties, such as sugar content, fibres and vitamins.

Low sugar fruits

If you are following a low-sugar diet, then the following fruits are excellent choices to keep your blood sugar levels smooth:

  • Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries

  • Kiwi

  • Watermelon and cantaloupe

  • Citrus fruits like orange, lemon, and grapefruit

  • Peach

  • Pineapple

High-fibre fruits

If you want to prepare a balanced smoothie that increases satiety and prevents constipation then choose the following high-fibre fruits:

  • Apples and Pears

  • Bananas

  • Raspberries and Blackberries

  • Oranges

  • Strawberries

which is the best fruit for smoothies

High Vitamin C fruit

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a powerful antioxidant that helps to fight and resist infection.

So choose the following vitamin C-rich fruits if you are feeling weak and want to boost your immune system:

  • Citrus fruit like orange, lemon, and grapefruit

  • Kiwi

  • Strawberries and blackcurrant

  • Cantaloupe

Mango and Chocolate Protein Smoothie

Mango and Chocolate Protein Smoothie Thumbnail

High Vitamin A fruit

If you want to support your eye health and maintain healthy skin and hair choose deep yellow fruits as they are rich in antioxidant vitamin A.

  • Cantaloupe

  • Mango and papaya

  • Grapefruit

  • Peach and apricot

which the best fruit for smoothies

Vegetables

Vegetables are a very low-calorie ingredient to add to weight loss smoothies and they contain fewer sugars than fruits. Also, they are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and trace elements.

Unlike fruits though, not all vegetables are suitable for a smoothie as some blenders cannot process very hard vegetables. Also, some veggies don’t taste as good when eaten raw or they might affect the flavour of your smoothie.

Here is a list of the best vegetables and herbs to use in your smoothie blend:

  • Carrots

  • Cucumber and Celery

  • Kale and Spinach

  • Beetroot

  • Watercress

  • Mint, Basil, Parsley

  • Sprouts

  • Collards and Swiss chards

  • Zucchini

  • Green cabbage

Low GI Carbs Boosters

Add a portion of whole grains to the smoothie blend to balance your carbohydrates intake, for example, when you are preparing one as a meal replacement.

The extra carbs will make you feel satiated for longer without the need to snack during the day.

Also, if you want to have your smoothie as a post-workout snack, added carbs will help during the recovery. Here, aim for a carb to protein ratio of 3:1 - for example 30g of carbs and 10g of proteins.

Whole wheat and oats are great carbs choices as they have a low glycemic index (GI) and provide many health benefits thanks to their high-fibre content.

low GI carbs for smoothies

Rolled Oat

Oat is a great choice if you are looking for a gluten-free grain. It’s easy to find at the supermarket, but make sure you choose old-fashioned rolled oat as the instant one is heavily processed and causes a quick spike of sugars.

A 30g serving of oat provides 12% of the RDA of dietary fibres which include beta-glucan, a soluble fibre which help to reduce cholesterol and control blood sugar levels.

Sugar-free Muesli

Muesli is a mix of toasted whole oats and wheat flakes with added nuts, such as almond and hazelnuts, and dried fruit like raisins.

Make sure you choose sugar-free brands and keep in mind there is a higher content of sugars compared to that found in plain oat or bran because of the added dried fruit.

However, using a serving of 30g of muesli add a rich flavour to your smoothie thanks to nuts and dried fruit which also provide important minerals and trace elements.

Bran

Bran is the outer layer of whole cereals and although there are many varieties, oat bran and wheat bran are the easiest to find.

Add one or two tablespoons of bran to your smoothie blend if you want to give a real fibre boost to your drink.

Bran provides B vitamins which help your body to get more energy from the food you eat and it’s also a source of iron with 17% of your RDA in one 30g serving.

3. Lean Proteins

Adding a source of protein to your smoothie is a real game changer in making a balanced smoothie recipe.

They help you to feel satiated and also support the immune system and metabolism and maintain muscles.

protein sources for smoothies

It’s important that you choose a healthy source of proteins, like low-fat dairy products and soy products. Also, you can easily add protein powders to your smoothie.

How many proteins you should have per meal depends on your weight, but on average one should aim to 15g of proteins, while for those practicing intense physical activity the target can be up to 30g per meal.

To help you choose the protein source to add to your smoothie, here is a useful list:

Yogurt

Yogurt is packed with probiotic and healthy bacteria that boost your immune system and keep a healthy digestive system.

It also adds a great texture and consistency to the smoothie.

We recommend using a serving of one 150g pot and you can choose between:

  1. Greek Yogurt

    Provides 10 grams of proteins in 100g.

    It’s a source of calcium, potassium, iodine, and vitamin B12.

  2. Soy Yogurt

    Plant-based alternative for vegans or lactose intolerants and source of omega-3

    Provides 5 g of proteins in 100g.

Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese provides 12g of proteins per serving and a serving consists of 200g.

Like other dairy products, it’s a source of B vitamins, calcium, phosphorous, and selenium.

It also adds rich and dense texture, perfect if you are using fruit and vegetables with high water content.

Protein Powder

You can add protein powder as a supplement to your smoothie to reach your daily target of proteins or you can use it on its own.

Good examples of protein powders are:

  • Brown Rice Protein

  • Hemp Protein

  • Soy Protein

  • Pea Protein

  • Whey Proteins

When preparing your balanced smoothie, add 2 tablespoons of whey, soy or hemp protein powder or 3-4 tablespoons of vegetarian protein powder, like pea and rice proteins, to reach 15g of proteins per serving.

Other Sources

Keep in mind that other ingredients in your smoothie mix might contain proteins too. For example, the milk in the liquid base or the fat sources - that we’ll see in the chapter - like seeds and nuts.

As a piece of advice, avoid getting over 30 g of proteins per serving and try to balance the ingredients in your smoothie formula to get the desired amount of proteins.

4. Healthy Fats

You may want to skip adding fats to your smoothie thinking you’ll get a healthier snack. However, when consumed in moderation, fats are great for you.

In fact, fats deliver essential vitamins to our system, act a reserve of energy, and help the metabolic processes.

When it comes to choosing fats, you should opt for those low in saturated fats, like the avocado, nuts, and seeds.

To prepare a balanced smoothie, we recommend you aim for 10g of fats per serving.

Avocado

Unlike other fruits, it’s low in carbs and high in healthy fats and provides many vitamins including C, E, and B group.

Use 1/3 or half of avocado per serving to get the recommended amount of healthy fats.

Nuts & Nut Butter

Add a handful of nuts (about 25g or 1 oz) or 1-2 tablespoons of nut butter to boost your smoothie with healthy unsaturated fats like omega-3 and omega-6 which help to regulate cholesterol levels. They also provide fibres, vitamin E and proteins.

Good choices include:

  • Almonds, high in vitamin E

  • Walnuts, high in magnesium and omega-3

  • Cashews, high in magnesium

  • Brazil nuts, a source of selenium

  • Hazelnuts, high in vitamin E and magnesium

If you prefer, you can soak the nuts in water before adding them to the blender.

Seeds

Seeds have many important nutrients including healthy fats, fibres, and vitamins.

There are many seeds you can choose from:

  • Soaked Chia Seeds, also high in fibres

  • Hemp Seeds, also high in proteins

  • Ground Flaxseeds, the best source of omega-3 fatty acids

  • Pumpkin Seeds, a great source of omega-6 fatty acids

  • Sesame Seeds, also high in iron and calcium

Add a handful (about 25g or 1 oz) or 1-2 tablespoons of seed butters.

healthy fats in balanced smoothie

Other Sources

If you have included dairy products in your smoothie blend, like yogurt and milk, you already have a source of fats and you can use the above ingredients just to top up your intake of healthy fats.

Compared to plant-based alternatives, dairy products are higher in saturated fats, so make sure you choose low-fat versions.

5. Health Boosters

Now that you've learnt how to make a balanced smoothie, it's time to take your smoothie to the next level! You can do so by adding health boosters, namely those ingredients which are effective in promoting wellbeing.

superfoods to add to smoothie

We recommend using 1 to 2 teaspoons per serving and you can add as many superfoods as you like.

To help you choose the best boosters in your balanced smoothie here is a useful list:

  • Cacao Powder or Cacao Nibs: to naturally improve your mood and get antioxidants

  • Vanilla: to add a sweet aroma to your smoothie

  • Cinnamon: for a pungent aroma and to help controlling blood sugar levels

  • Turmeric: a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant (remember to add black pepper to enhance its effects) that gives a beautiful yellow colour to your smoothie

  • Ginger:  for a zesty and biting flavour and to aid digestion

  • Matcha: for a bright green colour and to boost your metabolism and memory

  • Bee Pollen: to give a floral taste and boost your immune system

  • Acai Berry: for a purple colour and source of vitamin C and antioxidants

  • Baobab Powder: for a boost of nutrients and to improve digestive health

  • Spirulina: this deep blue-green alga helps to control cholesterol and gives a rich green colour

  • Goji Berries: deliciously sweet and rich in vitamin A and C and other benefits

  • Fish Oil: to supplement your intake of omega-3 fatty acids

Banana Almond Milk Smoothie with Immune Boosting Goji Berry

Banana Almond Milk Smoothie with Immune Boosting Goji Berry Thumbnail

6. To Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Even if your smoothie is already balanced in its sugar content thanks to the fruit, we know there are days when you are really craving a sweeter treat.

One solution is to use very ripe fruit as it has a higher sugar content or you could opt for a natural sweetener.

Compared to white confectioner sugar, the following alternatives have:

  • Maple Syrup: almost half of the sugars and provides many antioxidants

  • Agave Nectar: almost half of the sugars and a low GI

  • Raw Honey: a similar content of sugars but it is rich in minerals and vitamins

  • Stevia: no calories and sugars

  • Xylitol: it doesn’t spike blood sugars and insulin

  • Dates: have almost half of the sugar and they provide fibres

Always use sweeteners in moderation to control blood sugars and keep a healthy weight.

To Sum Up

We hope that you have learned more about how to make your smoothie more balanced and healthy by choosing the right ingredients in the right amount.

Here are some of our delicious balanced smoothie recipes:

Thanks for reading, now it’s time to get your blender ready!

Have fun!