Smoothies have become a breakfast and post-workout default, especially for those in need of a quick and healthy option on busy mornings. But these fruity drinks can also be packed with sugar and carbohydrates, sometimes making them a not-so-healthy choice after all. This is especially true if you have diabetes, and thus, need to monitor your blood sugar levels more carefully. But for folks who just want to cut down on carbs and sugar, the key difference between an unhealthy smoothie and a healthy one is that the latter only has naturally occurring carbs, which are an important part of a balanced diet and regular metabolism.
And if you make your smoothies at home, it's a lot easier to avoid added sugar and refined carbs since you're controlling what goes into the blender. So with the right ingredients, your smoothie can be packed with energizing nutrients and be lower in carbs—but what should you avoid? Well, first of all, consider ditching the sherbets and juice blends for more greens. Also, knowing the nutrition contents of different fruits can help you make a low-carb smoothie even lighter. For example, according to Michigan State University Extension, bananas, pineapples, pears, and cherries are higher in carbs than berries, while peaches, kiwis, and citrus fruits are somewhere in between.
Scroll through the 10 low-carb smoothie options below to try for breakfast or a snack, and tailor the recipes to fit your personal dietary needs.
Blackberry, Kale, and Coconut Smoothie
Full of nutrient-rich greens, silky dairy-free vanilla yogurt, unsweetened coconut milk, and vibrant blackberries, this low-carb smoothie recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon will become a staple in your morning routine the second you take a sip of it. Add a banana to thicken it up if you don't mind the extra natural carbs, and then top it off with chia seeds and shaved coconut flakes.
The Fruit Breakdown: 1 cup of blackberries contains 14.7 grams of carbohydrates, which is 5% of your recommended daily value (DV).
Chocolate Cherry Smoothie
While cherries are slightly higher in carbs than other fruits, this smoothie recipe from Root and Revel doesn't call for a banana, which is known for containing a lot of carbs. Instead, it's loaded up with spinach, vanilla nut milk, chia seeds, and collagen protein. Plus, cherries also have a ton of fiber, which is essential for a healthy digestive system. The cacao power also brings in a rich chocolatey flavor for those sweet tooths out there.
The Fruit Breakdown: 1 cup of cherries contains 22 grams of carbohydrates, which is 7% of your DV.
Kale and Strawberry
Green smoothies are always a good call when you're trying to cut back on carbs, and this one from Salt and Wind is filling and delicious since it also calls for naturally sweet fruit. With a freshly squeezed orange, strawberries, half of a banana, and chilled almond milk, it's naturally sweet. But go ahead and add a little bit of honey if you want to make it less tart.
The Fruit Breakdown: 1 cup of strawberries contains 11.7 grams of carbohydrates, which is 4% of your DV.
Pear and Almond Butter Smoothie
Complete with almond butter, cinnamon, ground cloves, a pear, and ginger powder, this smoothie is the perfect start to a crisp fall morning. While this Food Faith Fitness recipe doesn't call for a banana, pears are higher in carbs than most fruit, and almond butter contains some saturated fats. That being said, it's also a great source of protein, which is essential to a healthy diet.
The Fruit Breakdown: 1 pear is 22.9 grams of carbohydrates, which is 8% of your DV.
Blood Orange and Spinach Smoothie
This blend of blood orange, spinach, almonds, banana, milk, and yogurt was specifically created by Hello Glow to balance hormones and help combat PMS, cramps, and other common (and unpleasant) period symptoms. Each natural ingredient offers essential nutrients to keep your endocrine system in balance. For example, though bananas are super high in carbs, they also deliver potassium to help with muscle function and hydration, while yogurt delivers pH-balancing probiotics, as well as calcium, and the spinach is a source of iron.
Simply top your smoothie with chia seeds and cacao nibs for added nutrients and taste.
The Fruit Breakdown: 1 cup of orange with juice contains 21.1 grams of carbohydrates, which is 7% of your DV.
Peppermint Mocha Smoothie
Decadent drinks and healthy breakfast recipes don't have to be mutually exclusive, thanks to Root and Revel. With plenty of spinach balanced naturally with raw cacao nibs and powder, peppermint extract, and unsweetened coconut milk, you can have your cake (read: smoothie) and eat it too. And if you're hands are too full to carry two mugs on the go, simply add cold brew coffee to your smoothie. The flavors complement each other perfectly. Dates are also a good sweetening addition, though they aren't necessary.
Other than that, this recipe is fruit-free.
The Fruit Breakdown: 1 date contains 18 grams of carbohydrates, which is 6% of your DV.
Pineapple-Tumeric Spice Smoothie
This pineapple smoothie from The First Mess is a unique blend of flavors and warm spices that will set the mood and provide comfort during the chillier seasons. While the pineapple adds a tropical tang, the sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon and splash of vanilla extract give it a cozy twist. It also calls for turmeric, which is full of anti-inflammatory properties.
The Fruit Breakdown: 1 cup of pineapple chunks contains 21.6 grams of carbohydrates, which is 7% of your DV.
Brought to us by Chelsea's Messy Apron, this smoothie recipe was created with metabolism-boosting ingredients like blueberries, almonds, banana, limes, and Greek yogurt. Packed with healthy protein and fiber, it's the perfect way to wake your digestive system up in the morning without having to make an elaborate egg-centric breakfast.
The Fruit Breakdown: 1 cup of blueberries contains 21.4 grams of carbohydrates, which is 7% of your DV.
This matcha smoothie recipe from Half Baked Harvest is a great option when you're looking to combine your breakfast smoothie with your morning cup of coffee or green tea. It calls for unsweetened almond milk, baby kale, almond butter, pineapple, and banana. You can also add some spirulina, which is great for detoxing heavy metals from your body, as well as a dash of vanilla for sweetness. Considering all of these protein-rich ingredients and matcha powder, it's super energizing, so it'll make those sleepy mornings a little more bearable.
For fewer carbs, just use less banana.
The Fruit Breakdown: 1 cup of mashed banana contains 51.4 grams of carbohydrates, which is 17% of your DV.
This citrusy smoothie from Mitzy at Home is the perfect thing to make when you're fighting a cold since it's packed with vitamin C. With freshly squeezed pink grapefruit and orange juice, banana, and unsweetened almond milk, it's also low-touch and easy, making it ideal for a busy morning. Since it's only naturally sweetened, you can add honey, agave nectar, or cinnamon to balance out the tanginess.
The Fruit Breakdown: 1 cup of pink grapefruit contains 24.5 grams of carbohydrates, which is 8% of your DV.
Which low-carb smoothie are you to try first? Let us know your favorite one, and share your carb-cutting tricks in the comments below.