Do you wonder what liquids to use in your smoothies? You might be wondering if your go-to liquid is the best one for your goals. Or maybe you’re tired of the same old thing and want to try something new?
You have a lot of options when it comes to liquids to use in smoothies. Some of them straight forward – and you’ve probably heard about them – and others are a little more creative.
When it comes to smoothie liquid bases, though, some are better for you than others. I’ll walk you through each one describing the benefits and negatives, the texture it will add to your smoothie, and my recommendation.
Ok, here we go!
18 Liquids to Use in Smoothies
Filtered water: Plain old water. Filtered from the tap or buy it in bottles. Water is as basic as it gets for smoothie liquid bases and it’s really all you need. Adding it to your smoothie will get you the consistency you’re looking for without changing the flavor or adding calories. It’s also super convenient – you can get it practically anywhere you are. Personally, this is what I use in most of my smoothies and I highly recommend it.
Coconut water: Coconut water is naturally fat and cholesterol free, low in calories and sugar, and rich in potassium. It also has five essential electrolytes (calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, and sodium), making it a great choice to quench your thirst or add to smoothies. Its sweet flavor makes it a great liquid base for smoothies.
Maple water: Maple water is new on the market and is made from the sap tapped from maple trees for making maple syrup. It is being advertised as a healthful drink that is low in calories and loaded with health benefits. There hasn’t been much research on maple water, though, to help back up these claims. It’s low in calories and contains about 40 percent of the daily recommended value of manganese – but most people do not lack that mineral at all. Maple water is a sweet drink and contains three to four grams of sugar per serving (about 8.5 oz). Because of the lack of research in its health benefits and the quantity of sugar, I do not recommend using this in smoothies.
Dairy milk: Milk is a classic liquid in smoothies, like water. Unlike water, though, milk will add a creamy texture to your smoothie. Milk will also add protein, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals to your smoothies. On the negative side, it will also add calories and fat (unless it’s skim) to your smoothie. The calories in smoothies can add up quickly, so be mindful of where you are getting them from. You can use any type of milk in a smoothie: skim, low-fat (1%), reduced fat (2%), whole milk, or chocolate milk.
Almond milk: Almond milk is another option, and a good one if you are lactose intolerant. Made from ground almonds, it is cholesterol and lactose-free and will add plant protein and a mild, warm flavor. It is also very low in calories. You can buy it flavored but keep in mind that will add more calories and sugar to your smoothie, so you might want to stay with the unsweetened kind. Similar to dairy milk, almond milk will add a creaminess to your smoothie.
Soy milk: Soy milk is made from soybeans and is popular with people who are vegetarian or are lactose intolerant. It is a good source of protein and other nutrients like calcium and iron. It’s low fat and low in calories. On the flip side, soy does come with some health risks. It is often high in sugar (even plain types) and genetically modified. There’s some controversy about whether getting too much soy is dangerous. Also, some people are allergic to soy. Like the other kinds of milk, soy milk will add creaminess to your smoothie.
Coconut milk: Coconut milk is extracted from the meat of the coconut and is thicker, sweeter, and more dense than coconut water. It is high in protein, fiber, potassium, manganese, magnesium, folate, calcium and selenium. It is also high in fat, although it is healthy saturated fat (medium-chain fatty acids, or MCFAs). Coconut milk is very high in calories, though, so I do not recommend it for smoothies unless you are actually trying to make high calories smoothies. In comparison, coconut water has 46 calories per cup, while coconut milk has 552 calories per cup. Big difference! Coconut milk will make your smoothie creamier in texture.
Rice milk: Rice milk is a grain milk processed from rice and is a good alternative for people who do not or cannot have milk. It’s usually made from brown rice and is naturally unsweetened, although there are sweetened varieties. Rice milk is rich in calcium and phosphorous – both are necessary for building and maintaining strong teeth and bones. It does not contain protein, however, so be sure to supplement your smoothie with either protein powder or other ingredients that are high in protein to be sure you are creating a nutritionally balanced smoothie. Rice milk will add creaminess to your smoothie.
Green tea: Green tea is loaded with polyphenol antioxidants, which are thought to have many health benefits. Be mindful that it also contains caffeine. Green tea will help to thin out a thick smoothie – much like water. Unlike water, though, green tea will add a nice flavor to your smoothie.
Matcha: Matcha is powdered green tea leaves and may contain three times more caffeine than a cup of steeped tea. It is very popular now and is rich in polyphenol antioxidants. When making tea with this, ad 1 – 2 tsp of matcha into a cup of 2oz hot water. Or, just add water and the matcha directly into your smoothie blender. When adding this to a smoothie, the consistency and flavor will be similar to adding green tea.
Herbal tea: This is a great way to add different flavors to your smoothies. Ginger, citrus, lavender, rose, sage, mint… the list goes on and on. Like green tea and matcha, herbal tea will have a consistency similar to water and will add a nice flavor to your smoothie.
Fresh squeezed fruit juice: This isn’t the kind of juice that you buy in cartons or in the freezer section of your grocery store. Although it is slightly higher in nutritional content than conventional fruit juice, freshly squeezed juice still contains a high amount of sugar. Using it can cause your blood sugar to spike, followed by a sugar crash causing you to be tired, hungry, and probably headachy. Because of this, I do not recommend using fresh squeezed juice in smoothies. Many people will use juice in their smoothies to add flavor, but just adding in the whole fruit is so much better. Adding freshly squeezed juice to your smoothie will have a similar consistency as adding water.
Conventional fruit juice: Conventional fruit juice you buy in cartons, bottles, or in the freezer section of your grocery store contains nothing more than water, sugar, and artificial ingredients. It has practically no nutritional content worth putting into your smoothie and comes with a high calorie cost. Like fresh squeezed juice, it is likely to cause your blood sugar to spike, followed by a sugar crash causing you to be tired, hungry, and probably headachy. I do not recommend using conventional fruit juice in smoothies. Ever. Many people will use juice in their smoothies to add flavor, but just adding in the whole fruit is so much better. Adding fruit juice to your smoothie will have a similar consistency as adding water.
Fresh vegetable juice: Similar to fresh squeezed fruit juice, fresh vegetable juice does not contain the same amount of nutrition as the whole food. While is does contain beneficial vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, it does not contain fiber. Fiber is important in a diet because it helps to regulate blood sugar and slows down the digestion of food – helping you stay fuller longer. I do not recommend adding fresh vegetable juice to smoothies. Adding the whole vegetable is so much better. Adding fresh vegetable juice to your smoothie will have a similar consistency as adding water.
Conventional vegetable juice: Like conventional fruit juice, conventional vegetable juice should be avoided in smoothies. It contains high amounts of water and usually has sugar or salt (or both) added. The nutritional content from conventional vegetable juice is not worth the calories it will add to your smoothie. Use the whole vegetable instead. Adding vegetable juice to your smoothie will have a similar consistency as adding water.
Kefir: Kefir is a cultured dairy product that contains high amounts of probiotics, vitamins B12 and K2, calcium, magnesium, biotin, folate, and enzymes. It’s a fermented milk product that tastes like drinkable yogurt, adding richness to your smoothie. For people who cannot tolerate having any dairy, there are types of kefir that are rich in antibiotics and other kefir health benefits but are completely dairy and lactose-free. There are two types of kefir: milk kefir (made from cow, sheep, goat, or coconut milk) and water kefir (made from sugar water or coconut water – both do not contain any dairy). With about 100 calories in 6 oz, it’s a healthier option than yogurt.
Yogurt: While many people hail yogurt as a very healthful food, I am not one of them. Most yogurt in the grocery store is loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients. While it will give you a small boost of protein and some probiotics, there are better options for adding those and other nutrients into your smoothies that don’t include the sugar, calories, and artificial ingredients. If you love the creamy texture yogurt gives to smoothies, try using kefir instead. I do not recommend using yogurt in smoothies.
Pre-mixed smoothies: These are the smoothies you find in bottles, cartons, and other packaging in stores. Most of them contain high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and ingredients – with low nutritional benefit. Making fresh smoothies is so much better for you and you can control exactly what goes into them. I do not recommend adding pre-mixed smoothie blends into your smoothie.
Try a new liquid in your smoothie today!
As you can see, you have a lot of options for liquids to use in smoothies. Based on your health and weight loss goals, try using a liquid that will give you the consistency you want without too many added calories.
Keep in mind that fruit contains a lot of water itself. For some recipes, you may need only a little – if any – liquid. Using the whole fruit (or vegetable) instead of juice will maximize the nutritional content of your smoothies. Most of the good nutritional content in fruits and vegetables is found in the skin and flesh so be sure to include them in your smoothies.
What’s your favorite liquid to use in smoothies? Leave it in the comments below!
If you’d like to learn more about how to create nutritionally balanced smoothies, download my free guide:
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