Building a Balanced Smoothie

By: Laura Maydak
Reviewed by: Heather Mangieri, RDN

Smoothies are delicious, fast, and nutritious meals on the go – when made correctly.  It’s important to remember that meals, whether served on a plate or in a glass, should be nutritionally balanced.  So, while an all-fruit smoothie may make your taste buds happy, the lack of protein and fat will leave your stomach unsatisfied.

Luckily, making a nutritionally balanced smoothie is simple – just follow these six steps, and you’ll have a healthy and satisfying meal on the go:


1. Choose a Base (1/2 – 1 cup):

100% Fruit juice, almond milk, brewed tea, coconut water, milk, rice beverage, soymilk, water

2. Choose a Fruit (1 – 1 1/2 cups):

Apple, banana, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, grapes, kiwi, mango, melon, oranges, papaya, peach, pear, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries

3. Choose a Vegetable (1 – 2 cups):

Beet greens, butternut squash, carrots, celery, collard greens, cucumbers, kale, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato

4. Choose a Protein (Amount varies):

Cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, protein powder, silken tofu

5. Choose a Healthy Fat (Amount varies):

Avocado (¼ avocado), chia seeds (1–2 Tbsp), chopped nuts (1/8 cup), ground flax seeds (1–2 Tbsp), hemp seeds (1–2 Tbsp), nut butter (1 Tbsp)

6. Give it a Boost (Amount varies):

Cocoa powder, fish oil, flavor extracts (vanilla, almond, mint, etc), herbs and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, mint, etc.), ice, wheat germ

Extra Tips:

  • If you’re making a post-workout smoothie, aim for a ratio of 3:1 to 4:1 carbohydrates to protein – this is optimal for recovery.
  • If you use frozen fruit, purchase varieties with no added sugar.
  • Be aware of the fat content of your liquid base and protein – try to choose low fat or fat free varieties.
  • You can adjust the consistency of the smoothie by adding more liquid or using less dense fruits and vegetables.
  • Be creative!  This formula guarantees a nutritionally balanced smoothie – so throw your taste buds some (delicious) curve balls!