Many people think that following a keto diet means your day is full of meat, cheese, and butter. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
As long as you keep your total carbs low, you can create a ton of variety in your diet.
In fact, one of the best ways to get a boost in nutrition without doing too much work is making a low-carb smoothie. Prep time on most smoothies is less than five minutes, and they can keep you satisfied for hours.
Choosing the right ingredients, however, is crucial if you want your smoothie to keep you in ketosis and provide you with an array of nutrients.
That means you have to pass on the high sugar fruit found in most smoothies like bananas, mangoes, and pineapple. You also want to avoid low-quality protein powders that add in high-carb ingredients.
Once you become aware of those two potential keto destroyers, the possibilities for keto smoothies are endless.
No matter what you throw into your blender, the perfect keto smoothie recipe needs to taste great, have the right consistency, and, of course, have an optimal nutrition profile.
How do you achieve this feat? By choosing one or two options from the following categories:
- Dark leafy greens
- Fat boost
There are so many different ways to mix and match — you never have to worry about getting sick of your keto smoothie.
Here are some of the healthiest options for each category, so have fun with it:
One thing that sets a keto smoothie apart from a regular smoothie is the macronutrient profile.
Most smoothie recipes are loaded with carbs, but a keto smoothie is going to be rich in fat and protein, and have a minimal carb count.
You also want your smoothie to feel like a complete meal, so getting enough protein is essential to keeping you full for hours.
Protein serves a number of functions in your body. The structure, function, and regulation of all your body’s organs and tissues depend on protein. And amino acids from protein serve as messengers and enzymes for every system in your body[*].
Protein is also essential for stimulating your satiety hormones, which lets you know that you’re full and don’t need more food[*]. If you want your smoothie to leave you full and satisfied for hours, adequate protein is a must.
The type of protein you choose depends on your goals. Here are some top picks and the benefits of each.
Whey Protein Powder
Whey is an excellent choice if you want to gain muscle and/or lose weight.
Protein is made up of smaller units called amino acids. Whey happens to be a rich source of all your essential amino acids, including branched-chain amino acids, which are essential for muscle growth and maintenance[*].
Whey protein has also been linked to reductions in body fat, especially around your abdomen, making it a great choice for weight loss[*].
Whey protein often comes in a variety of flavors, and quality levels. Look for grass-fed whey protein isolate for the highest-quality, best absorbed whey protein powder.
Collagen protein is a fantastic option if you’re focusing on joint health or skin health. Collagen is the main structural protein in your connective tissue, and it helps create elasticity in your skin.
Adding collagen protein to your shake may enhance the elasticity of your skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles. It may also help relieve joint pain and could even serve as a potential treatment for osteoarthritis[*][*].
Collagen, however, doesn’t have a full array of amino acids like whey protein does. So, make sure to get both whey and collagen daily.
Vegan Protein Powder
If you’re following a plant-based ketogenic diet, then the protein category is doubly important for you. It can be hard to find quality sources of protein when you’re not eating animal products, but it certainly isn’t impossible.
In fact, getting a boost of protein with a smoothie is one of the easiest ways for vegans and plant-based folks to make sure they’re getting their protein needs met.
The trick here is to make sure you’re getting a full amino acid profile, without too many extra carbs. Some examples of plant-based protein are pea protein, hemp protein, and pumpkin seed protein.
A smoothie isn’t a smoothie without a little burst of fruit. Yes, even a keto smoothie.
Instead of including high-sugar fruits like bananas, mangoes, and other tropical fruits, include a small handful of berries. Berries like strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries provide a huge amount of antioxidants and other nutrients, while staying low in new carbs.
The berries in your smoothie serve a few purposes:
- Add a sweet flavor
- Bulk it up a bit for a richer consistency
- Enhance the nutrient quality with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
Berries are one of the richest sources of antioxidants in the plant world. They’re low in calories, rich in fiber, and bursting with beneficial phytonutrients like anthocyanins, ellagitannins, and zeaxanthin. All of which can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress[*][*][*].
Frozen berries add an icy texture and make more sense when berries aren’t in seasons. Fresh berries are fantastic during spring and summer when they’re fresh off the vine.
If all you have is fresh berries, but you’re craving a cold smoothie just add some ice cubes and enjoy.
Here are your top choices for low-carb berries:
- Acai berries
Adding dark leafy greens to your smoothie is a wonderful way to sneak these powerhouse foods into your diet. No, they aren’t always the most exciting item on the menu, nor do they add the best taste, but their nutrient profile is worth it.
Green leafy vegetables are a fantastic source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Some top picks for your daily greens are:
This one should come as no surprise. Kale has become the poster child for healthy vegetables with its dark green leaves full of fiber and nutrients. Kale is especially rich in vitamin K, with one cup supplying 81 mcg, which almost satisfies your total daily needs[*].
If you don’t like fibrous kale and collards, then spinach makes an excellent leafy green choice.
Collard greens are a fantastic source of calcium, with 268 mg per cup. That’s about 25% of your daily calcium needs. The best part — you can easily throw a cup of chopped collards into your smoothie without even noticing[*].
Microgreens are the seedlings of mature green leafy vegetables, picked just after the first leaves have developed. You can typically find microgreen assortments in grocery stores with spinach, kale, and arugula and others all mixed in together.
You can also easily sprout your own microgreens at home.
Their leaves may be small, but they pack a significant amount of nutrients. You can find vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients in varying amounts in your microgreens blend[*].
If one of your goals is to support liver detox, dandelion greens are the vegetable for you.
Along with its vitamins and minerals, dandelion is a wonderful source of antioxidants. While you need a variety of antioxidants in your diet, the antioxidants in dandelion have an affinity for your liver.
In one study, mice with liver damage experienced a hepatoprotective effect (liver protective) when given extracts of dandelion[*].
If you want to give your smoothie a real fiber boost, throw some swiss chard in and blend. Almost half of the carb content of swiss chard comes from fiber, making it an excellent fiber-boosting ingredient[*].
You can always choose to add water to your smoothie if you don’t have any milk handy, but for a creamier shake, milk is the way to go.
If you’re a dairy drinker, make sure to choose full fat, organic milk — grass-fed is even better.
If you’re not a dairy drinker there are plenty of options out there for you. Hemp, cashew, almond, macadamia, coconut, and flax milk are all excellent choices.
One note — when choosing a non-dairy milk make sure to check the ingredients to make sure they don’t add sugar or that it’s not too high in carbs.
It wouldn’t be a keto smoothie without a little extra fat.
Keeping that macronutrient profile heavier on the fat and protein, and lighter on the carbs means you get to add in some delicious high-fat ingredients.
Here are some high-fat options to choose from:
MCT Oil or Powder
MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) are a great way to add quick fuel to your smoothie. Unlike long-chain fatty acids that have to travel through your lymph, MCTs get sent directly to your liver to be used as fuel.
This makes MCTs a perfect addition if you’re drinking your smoothie before a workout[*].
MCTs come in liquid form and powder form. But both make great smoothie ingredients. If you’re not used to MCTs, start with ¼ or ½ a serving and work your way up over about two weeks.
If you like your smoothie to taste extra rich, throw in some nut butter. You can choose almond, cashew, hazelnut, or a keto nut butter blend to enhance the fat and protein content of your smoothie.
Coconut oil is loaded with health benefits. If you want to keep the flavor neutral, coconut oil makes an excellent choice to boost the fat content.
It not only contains MCTs, but it also contains a fatty acid not found in MCT blends called lauric acid.
Lauric acid has immune-boosting properties, so if you’re feeling like you’re coming down with something throw a tablespoon of coconut oil into your smoothie[*].
If you like your smoothies extra creamy then you’ll love the texture from avocado. It can really thicken things up, so you only need ¼- ½ of a medium or large avocado.
Avocados are naturally rich in monounsaturated fats, which can help balance your cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease[*].
Now that you’ve got your basics covered, here are some extras that you may want to add it in for a twist on taste, texture, and nutrition.
If you like your smoothies really sweet, the berries may not do the trick. Monk fruit serves as an excellent sugar-free alternative that won’t spike your blood sugar.
That’s right, the whole peel. Many of the nutrients from lemon are actually found in its peel. A smoothie is a fantastic way to get the nutrients from the peel without having to chomp it down.
Go with organic or home-grown lemons to avoid any spray residues.
It seems like turmeric is everywhere these days. This ancient herb has been used for thousands of years in Indian culture as a healing plant. And its benefits are backed by science.
One of the most well-known benefits of turmeric is its anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric may even be as effective as pharmaceuticals for treating inflammation.
Adding a teaspoon of turmeric to your smoothie is a great way to get this superfood into your diet[*].
Coming up quick behind turmeric in the health-boosting food trends are medicinal mushrooms. These have also been around for thousands of years, but mainstream nutrition is just scratching the surface of what they may do for your health.
Many medicinal mushrooms like chaga, reishi, cordyceps, and lion’s mane come in powdered forms, making them the perfect addition to your smoothie.
Chia seeds make a great addition if you want to add some dietary fiber to your smoothie without the ultra-creaminess of the avocado. One word of caution, however; if you leave them too long they will absorb the liquid in your smoothie, and you may end up with a solid blob.
If you’re a fan of the minty flavor, adding some mint leaves to your smoothie can give you that fresh taste you’re looking for. Pair your mint leaves with some chocolate whey protein, and you’ll have something similar to a thin mint girl scout cookie.
A few sprigs of basil, rosemary, or lemon balm can also boost the flavor and polyphenol content of any smoothie.
Here’s a quick recap of your low-carb green smoothie formula, choose one or two options from each category and enjoy!
- Acai berries
Green Leafy Vegetables
- Dandelion greens
- Swiss chard
- Full fat, grass-fed organic milk
- Almond milk
- Cashew milk
- Macadamia nut milk
- Coconut milk
- Hemp milk
- Flax milk
- Monk fruit
- Lemon peel
- Medicinal mushrooms
- Chia seeds
- Mint leaves
Example Green Keto Smoothie
½ cup blueberries
2 cups chopped kale
½ cup unsweetened hemp milk
1 scoop Perfect Keto MCT Oil Powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
If you thought following a keto diet meant you had to skip out on all the smoothie fun, don’t worry — this article has you covered.
Smoothies are an excellent way to replace breakfast or lunch and get a huge array of nutrients into your diet.
As a keto-dieter, your main goal is to keep your total carbs low and balance your smoothie with protein and fat.
There are lots of ingredients to play with that are keto-friendly, so have fun with your smoothie recipes, mix and match, and try new things.
What’s your favorite green smoothie combination? We’d love to hear in the comments. Want some more ideas? Check out dozens of keto recipes, including new keto smoothie recipes weekly here.