You don't need to hire a personal chef to eat better. All you need is a blender.

By Juno DeMelo, Lindsay Funston, and Beth Blair
Updated September 11, 2019
Valeriia Sviridova/EyeEm/Getty Images

Where were you before you knew smoothies existed? These meals in a cup can get a bad rap for their high sugar content and weak macros, but when blended right, you can make your smoothie work for whatever your health goal.

"Blending is one of the quickest, easiest ways to prep healthy foods, especially fresh fruits and veggies," says Harley Pasternak, trainer, nutrition expert, and author of the book The Body Reset Diet.

Keep reading for some of his favorite weight-loss smoothie recipes and other protein shake recipes for weight loss, plus details on how all of the above can kick-start your metabolism and keep it fired up for hours.

How to Make the Best Weight-Loss Smoothie

Here are the four things you need to create your own tasty, healthy weight-loss smoothies. (Visual learner? See our infographic formula for how to build a stellar smoothie.)

  1. Liquid Base: Pasternak favors dairy milk (1 percent or nonfat) because it's rich in vitamin D and calcium, which can help your body break down fat. But non-dairy alternative milk, like soy and almond, are fine too, he says, as is flavored water.
  2. Lean Protein: Getting protein at every meal helps you maintain lean muscle mass, which means you burn more calories throughout the day. (Here’s how to determine how much protein your body needs every day.) Your best bets: plain nonfat yogurt, silken tofu, or unflavored protein powder.
  3. Healthy Fats: These give you energy, make your protein shake for weight loss actually satisfying, plus help your body absorb vitamins. Use up to two tablespoons of an ingredient that contains the good—that is, monounsaturated—kind, like avocado, seeds, or nuts. (Related: Healthy Green Smoothies That Taste Amazing and Will Save You $$$)
  4. High-Fiber Carbs: Any fruit will do, but raspberries and blueberries deliver the most fiber and the least amount of sugar. As for veggies, spinach and cucumber have the mildest, easiest-to-mask flavors.

Put the liquid in first, then add the solid ingredients, and blend until smooth. Depending on how thick you like your weight-loss smoothies—and how powerful your blender or food processor is—you may need to thin these out with a little liquid, such as nonfat milk. (Need a blender? Try one of the best blenders for every budget.)

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The Best Smoothies and Protein Shake Recipes for Weight Loss

PB&J Weight-Loss Smoothie

Like the brown bag sandwich? Then you’ll love this Greek yogurt-boosted peanut butter and jelly weight-loss smoothie.

Makes 1 serving

  • 4 ounces plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups chopped fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1 frozen banana, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup ice

Tropical Morning Smoothie

Good morning, sunshine! A sweet mix of mangoes, pineapple, and banana will surely pep you up for the day ahead.

Makes 1 serving

  • 6 ounces plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango chunks
  • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple chunks
  • 1 frozen banana, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

Sweet Spinach Weight-Loss Smoothie

Grapes, spinach, pear, and avocado? Sounds like a crazy flavor combo for a weight-loss smoothie, but we promise all you’ll taste is the fruit. The avocado lends luxurious texture and the spinach offers an undetectable dose of vitamins. (Related: 12 Smoothie Ingredient Swaps For People Who Hate Bananas)

Makes 1 serving

  • 6 ounces plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups spinach leaves, packed
  • 1 ripe pear, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 15 green or red grapes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped avocado
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Banana Cream Pie Smoothie

This weight-loss smoothie from Cassie Johnston, author of Chia, Quinoa, Kale, Oh My!, might taste like dessert—but with a half a cup of Greek yogurt in each serving, it's a much better alternative to doughnuts and coffee cake.

Makes 2 servings

  • 1 large ripe banana, frozen
  • 1 cup plain, low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened nut, soy, or dairy milk
  • Handful of ice cubes
  • Graham cracker crumbs, crushed, for garnish

Chocolate Chia Cherry Smoothie

Johnston put together this amazing antioxidant duo of dark chocolate and cherries to make this weight-loss smoothie taste like dessert. But chia seeds turn it into a nutritional powerhouse—just a tablespoon packs two grams of protein and more than five grams of fiber to keep you full till lunch.

Makes 2 servings

  • 1 cup unsweetened nut, soy, or dairy milk
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups pitted, halved cherries
  • 1 medium-size ripe banana
  • 4 to 5 ice cubes

Mixed Berry Cobbler Smoothie

Opt for coconut milk in this antioxidant-rich mixed berry weight-loss smoothie by Mimi Kirk, author of The Ultimate Cookbook of Modern Juicing, for plenty of healthy fats to keep you satisfied.

Makes 1 serving

  • 1/2 cup almond, hemp seed, or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 2 to 3 Medjool dates

Peach Milkshake

Research hints that adding 2 tablespoons of coconut oil—made up of medium-chain fatty acids that may help speed up your metabolism—to your daily regimen will help you burn more calories. In this weight-loss smoothie recipe, Kirk adds one teaspoon of the oil to boost the filling factor.

Makes 1 serving

  • 1 cup almond or hemp seed milk
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peaches
  • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple juice
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

Nut Butter Smoothie

Almond butter and protein powder give this protein shake for weight loss some real staying power.

Makes 1 serving

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter or other nut butter
  • 1 scoop whey protein powder
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 7 to 8 ice cubes

Berry, Flaxseed, and Pomegranate Smoothie

This weight-loss smoothie from Christine Bailey, author of Supercharged Juice & Smoothie Recipes, offers healthy fats, protein—and a big brain-boosting benefit. It’s spiked with the ancient Chinese herb gingko, which may help improve cognitive function and prevent memory loss.

Makes 1 serving

  • 1 small handful fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 3 strawberries, stemmed and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons shelled hemp seeds
  • 1 teaspoon acai berry powder
  • 1 tablespoon goji berries
  • 1/4 teaspoon gingko powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaxseed oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
  • Scant 1/2 cup pomegranate juice, coconut water, or green tea

Mellow Yellow Protein Shake

This protein shake for weight loss, designed by Stephanie Tourles, author of Raw Energy in a Glass, is a tropical treat thanks to almond, mango, banana, and vanilla.

Makes 2 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups purified water
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen mango, pitted, cut into chunks
  • 2 medium or 3 small frozen bananas, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup raw hulled hemp seeds
  • 2 tablespoons raw almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1 teaspoon natural vanilla

Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake for Weight Loss

This creamy, healthy weight-loss smoothie relies on canned pumpkin, which adds fiber and flavor. (Related: 10 Creative Ways to Use Canned Pumpkin In All Your Recipes)

Makes 1 serving

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 scoop whey vanilla protein powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon flaxseed
  • 1 packet Stevia or 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 7 to 8 ice cubes

Berry Weight-Loss Smoothie

Blueberries, strawberries, and more make this fruit smoothie nice and sweet, without any added sugar. For even more vitamins, toss in a handful of leafy greens (like spinach or kale) too.

Makes 1 serving

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 scoop whey protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds

Basic Fruit Weight-Loss Smoothie

You can use any fruit in this weight-loss smoothie. Experiment with frozen peaches, tropical fruit mixes, or anything you have handy.

Makes 1 serving

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup frozen mixed fruit
  • 1 scoop whey protein powder
  • 4 to 5 ice cubes
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