We’ve gotten a lot of questions lately about what liquids to use with our smoothies. And since we are the all-encompassing smoothie experts, we decided to lay it down for you. Whether you are blending The Good Stuff or making your own concoction, this is our first guide for choosing liquids for smoothies.
We’ve divided the liquids into three sections, based on your goals:
It’s a no brainer that water is the only calorie-free, sugar-free, money-free liquid option for your smoothie. If you’re drinking smoothies for weight loss, water should always be your number one because drinking water helps you burn calories and stay hydrated.
One study showed that participants who drank one extra liter of water per day burned 46 more calories. Which may not seem like much. But over the span of a year, that is equivalent to 5 pounds of fat.
But if you’re gunning for flavour or texture, like me, water may not be your best choice in a smoothie. With water, your smoothie will be less creamy and the flavour of your individual ingredients will be more evident (this could be a good or bad thing depending on if you’ve blended a greener or fruitier smoothie).
Goes best with: Wise Ninja
2. Almond Milk
Almond milk is definitely a crowd-pleaser. It has the same consistency of milk and half the calories. What else does almond milk have going for it? It is naturally lactose-free, and free of cholesterol and saturated fat - so it keeps your heart happy and healthy.
Although almond milk is slim pickings when it comes to calcium and protein compared to regular milk, it is a significant source of Vitamins A and D, filling roughly 20% of your daily recommended amount respectively.
Overall - killer texture, killer taste, killer nutrients. Almond milk is a win-win-win for most smoothie combos. Go for the unsweetened versions when picking it up to avoid extra sugar and calories.
For best results, we recommend Unsweetened almond milk on Amazon.
Goes best with: Thunderbird
Liquids for Training
1. Coconut Water
Coconut water is often referred to as “nature’s energy drink”. Why’s that? Well for one, it’s good marketing by the big coconut corps, but it's also backed by solid facts. Coconut water is rich in electrolytes, potassium, fiber, and sodium. Here’s the funnest fact: coconut water has 15 times the potassium than equivalent measurements of processed sports drinks.
Alright, so why are these components so crucial for your post-workout recovery? Because you’re sweating out all that good sodium, potassium, and water that need to be replaced after your workout. Refuelling your electrolytes keeps you hydrated and helps prevent muscle cramping and fatigue.
All these facts aside, coconut water is probably my favourite liquid to use in smoothies because of the extra added sweetness and spot-on texture. Again, make sure you pick up the unsweetened and unflavoured variety.
I will first clarify that coconut milk is made by blending the coconut meat and draining the liquid out, versus coconut water which is the liquid you get when you crack open a coconut.
Coconut milk is much higher in saturated fatty acids and calories than coconut water. BUT! As we’ve said before: a calorie isn’t a calorie isn’t a calorie. Calories simply represent units of energy, and the type of fat present in coconut milk is easily burned as fuel in the body. This means it’s a great liquid for athletes looking to fuel up pre- or post-workout.
If you like creamier smoothies, this is a good option. Coconut milk is extremely thick with a highly creamy consistency, maybe even too much. I personally like to cut it half and half with water to make it a little lighter both in texture, and calorie.
When you’re buying, make sure that the ingredients are 100% coconut milk (and maybe coconut water).
Liquids for Taste Alone
A lot of folks are looking for a great-tasting smoothie, while still fueling their body with all the good nutrients found in veggies. The best way to kick your green smoothie’s taste into high gear is with juice. It will give your smoothie that fruity punch, while still getting the fibre in whole fruits and vegetables.
The only thing to watch with juice is the extra sugar and calories. One serving of orange juice has 21 grams of sugar (equivalent to 5 teaspoons of sugar), whereas one serving of milk only has 13 grams.
“Got Milk?” did a fantastic job of educating the general public on the undeniable benefits of drinking milk, so I won’t reiterate them now.
What I will say, though, is calcium, calcium, calcium (also protein and Vitamin D). Good for your teeth, good for your bones, good for your smoothies!
Dairy milk also has a surprisingly strong taste that will effectively mask the taste of any greens in your smoothie. And if you snag the right blend of ingredients, you might even be able to fool yourself into thinking your green smoothie is actually a milkshake.
I like to stick with 1% or skim milk (on Amazon) to keep the calories and fat lower.
Goes best with: Kitsilano Sunrise
If you’re a smoothie regular like us, you might be ready to try a few crazier combinations. Try these liquids to shake your smoothie routine up a bit:
Not willing to give up your morning coffee? Try building a super smoothie-coffee combo. Just remember to make your coffee the night before and refrigerate it overnight to keep your smoothie cool and refreshing.
2. Chocolate milk
Give your smoothie an extra boost of protein with chocolate milk for muscle repair and carbs to replenish energy stores. Plus chocolate to amp up your smoothie flavour!
Kombucha is fermented sweetened green or black tea that supports your digestive system and counteracts liver toxicity. It has quite a vinegary taste, so try cutting it by adding a teaspoon of maple syrup or honey to your smoothie.
Ginger Kombucha is definitely a great choice!
Meal kit companies also provide great options - check out this review of Fresh Prep for more.
These are our favourite liquids to use in smoothies, but there are plenty more to try out. Soy milk? Maple water? Kefir? What's your favourite? Try them all and let us know!