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Low-Calorie Smoothies for Weight Loss

By Carly Schuna ; Updated July 18, 2017

Smoothies, a fixture of juice bars and cafes around the country, are made with fresh ingredients and taste great. But can they help you lose weight? That depends on what goes into them and how you use them, but it’s definitely possible to gradually and healthfully shed pounds with the aid of low-calorie smoothies.

Cutting Calories

Adding smoothies to your diet can be a healthy move, but it won’t necessarily help you lose weight unless you use those smoothies to replace higher-calorie foods. You need to consistently burn more calories than you eat to lose weight over time, so try drinking a low-cal smoothie when you’d usually have dessert or using it as a daily meal replacement.

Using Protein

To make a filling smoothie that’s still relatively low in calories, start with a high-protein base. According to a research review published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” in 2008, protein is more filling than either carbohydrates or fats, making it a smart choice for weight loss. A 6-ounce container of nonfat, plain Greek yogurt makes a neutral base and has only 100 calories with 18 grams of protein. Soft, silken tofu will make a thicker smoothie. A generous 200-gram slice has 110 calories and nearly 10 grams of protein.

Fruits to Use

When building your smoothie, use fresh or frozen fruits. Canned fruit and fruit juices often contain added sugar, which contributes calories and raises your risk of several chronic health conditions. For a thick smoothie, throw in a small frozen banana, which adds just 90 calories and blends up to a consistency like that of soft serve. To boost fiber content, add berries. One cup of raspberries has just 65 calories and 8 grams of fiber, and the same amount of blackberries has 60 calories and 7.5 grams of fiber. According to a research review published in 2005 in the journal “Nutrition,” dietary fiber consumption has an inverse association with body weight and body fat mass.

Veggies to Use

Blending veggies into your smoothie may sound odd, but it’s a great way to ramp up the nutrient content of your drink and keep the calorie count low. Nonstarchy vegetables have about one-third the calories of fruit, and they’re packed with filling fiber. Dr. Ben Kim recommends using a ratio of 40 percent fruits and 60 percent leafy greens, but if the taste is too bitter for you, you can start with just a small handful of greens and gradually increase the amounts until you’re more accustomed to including them. One cup of fresh spinach has just 7 calories, and the same amount of kale has 30 calories.

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