How to Make a Muscle-Building Smoothie vs. a Weight Loss Smoothie
Blending your smoothies can be quick and easy—but knowing which ingredients to use and how much—can make or break your diet.
Making your own smoothie may seem simple, but it can actually get tricky; adding too much of a healthy ingredient or adding ingredients that you think are healthy but actually aren't can lead to calorie overload or a messed up macro ratio. (Also read: How to Build a Perfect Smoothie Every Single Time)
Smoothies should fall around 150 to 250 calories for a snack and up to 400 for a meal. You should use ingredients that contribute nutrients your body needs to stay healthy and meet your goals, not just add empty calories, like fruit juices or sorbet. Some smoothies can get rack up the calories quickly—up to 1,000 calories for a single drink!
Here, two smoothies you can make at home that can help with weight loss or muscle building—whatever your goal. (Plus, tips on how to tweak them or build your own healthy smoothies.)
For a muscle-building smoothie, aim for a 40:30:30 ratio of macros, 40 percent carbs, 30 percent fat, and 30 percent protein. (Confused about macros? This guide to counting your macros will help.)
The 30 grams of protein in this smoothie helps build muscle mass. (FYI, here's how much protein you should eat per day.) Carbs in the form of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables also play an important role in the muscle-building process and keeping your body fed with the nutrients it needs.
This smoothie, in particular, provides four food groups: vegetables, fruit, dairy, and protein. The milk and protein powder provide the majority of the protein while the blueberries, milk, spinach, and maple syrup contribute the carbs. The sunflower butter adds both protein and fat, which also helps keep you feeling full. The spinach adds numerous vitamins including the antioxidants A and C, while the milk also provides bone-building nutrients calcium and vitamin D (which are also under-consumed nutrients by most Americans).
Blueberry Spinach Protein Smoothie
- 1 cup chopped baby spinach
- 1 cup fresh or frozen and thawed blueberries
- 3/4 cup low fat (1%) milk
- 1/4 cup whey protein powder (such as, Bob's Red Mill)
- 1 tsp 100-percent maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon sunflower butter
Nutrition: 384 calories, 43g carbs, 12g fat, 26g protein
Here are some ways to individualize this smoothie and make it your own:
- Opt for nonfat milk to cut back on some unnecessary saturated fat and calories. (The protein, calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients are similar to the 1% milk.)
- Use frozen wild blueberries that are sweeter than fresh blueberries varieties and cut out the maple syrup completely.
- Swap the blueberries for frozen strawberries, with no added sugar. (Check that the only ingredient listed in "strawberries.")
- Swap the sunflower butter for peanut butter, or other nut butter of choice.
Weight Loss Smoothie
For a weight loss smoothie, aim for a 45:25:30 ratio of macros, 45 percent carbs, 25 percent fat and 30 percent protein.
This smoothie has the same amount of protein as the muscle-building smoothie, which helps preserve muscle mass. However, the fat content is slightly lower, while fiber-filled carbs can help keep you satisfied and hold you over until your next wholesome meal.
It also provides three food groups: fruit, dairy, and protein. Cherries pair beautifully with bananas, and both fruits complement each other's nutrients. Cherries provide antioxidant vitamins A and C, and are high in anthocyanins and quercetin, two inflammation-fighting antioxidants. Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. The dairy, milk, and yogurt provide nine essential nutrients including protein, calcium, and vitamin D. With all these superfoods, you're nourishing your body while staying within healthy portions.
Cherry Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie
- 1 medium banana
- 1/2 cup frozen pitted sweet cherries
- 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup nonfat milk
- 3 tbsp whey protein powder (I used Bob's Red Mill)
- 1 tbsp smoothie peanut butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Nutrition: 394 calories, 48g carbs, 10g fat, 28g protein
A few easy swaps you can make in this smoothie:
- Swap the banana for 1 cup of your favorite frozen berries. (It will slightly cut back on the natural sugar.)
- Swap the peanut butter for almond butter, or your favorite nut butter.
- Add 1 tsp flax or chia seed for a small boost in fat.
- Swap the nonfat milk to soy milk, which has a similar nutrient composition to cow's milk (unlike many of the other plant beverages).