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Mastering Green Smoothies: Low-Cal Recipes for Health and Fitness

Consuming freshly made green smoothies daily from low-calorie recipes is potentially life-changing – helping you become leaner, stronger, and more energetic.

When appropriately made, green smoothies are a thick, blended beverage comprised primarily of vegetables.

Though green smoothies are typically low in calories – how low they are depends on the recipe.

Two recipes within this article serve as examples. The video below should prove helpful.

The Purpose Behind Your Green Smoothie Recipes

The leafy green vegetables used in a typical green smoothie are very low in calories.

Of course, a nutritionally dense green smoothie can also benefit from various other raw food ingredients.

I suggest letting the purpose of the green smoothie determine the calorie count:

  • is the smoothie a meal or just a snack?
  • did you exercise vigorously yesterday?
  • are you hoping to reduce body fat, build muscle, or maintain weight?

Answering these questions will determine what kind of green smoothie you prepare.

How Many Calories in a Green Smoothie?

If you want to improve your health and lose waistline blubber, you must find clever ways to sneak more vegetables into your daily diet.

Healthy green juice smoothie in glass bottle sitting on yellow napkin with fresh strawberries and kale

If someone does not have a positive response from drinking freshly made green smoothies, it’s often because their smoothies do not have enough calories or are being made with too much fruit or sugar.

A good green smoothie must have some clean fat and protein (by strategically using the right seeds and nuts). Otherwise, it becomes “too carby” and can create blood sugar spikes. For this reason, I caution you not to try to “shave” calories by removing too much coconut, seeds, or nuts from a recipe.

When you reduce any ingredient in a smoothie, it should probably be dairy, fruit – or any ingredient that is refined or processed.

The fun part of entering the transformative world of freshly made green smoothies is discovering what flavors enhance each other and what particular food combinations you prefer.

For example, after years of experimenting, I’ve found that the spinach-and-mango flavor combination seems to work together beautifully, as do kale-and-pineapple. 

When I first started making green smoothies, I used a lot of (peeled) frozen bananas. Frozen bananas make smoothies taste like milkshakes.

Eventually, I found that my taste buds changed, and I gradually lessened my use of bananas because I started to want less sweet smoothies.

two mature adults over fifty and fit and firm
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However, to this day, I still recommend that beginners use frozen bananas as an ingredient in their smoothies to get the ball rolling – and with the intention of one day reducing their banana intake after they’ve become accustomed to the smoothie lifestyle. This way, they will eventually decrease the amount of sugar within each smoothie.

Here are two of my green smoothie recipes. Take a look at the calorie breakdown.

Less-Calories Recipe 1: Tropical Green Smoothie

  • 1/2 cup or more of raw kale ~ 16 cals
  • 1 stalk of celery ~ 7 cals
  • 1/8 cup of raw sprouted pumpkin seeds ~ 90 cals
  • 1/2 cup pineapple ~ 45 cals
  • One heaping tablespoon of plant-based protein “powder” (optional, for athletes) ~ 55 cals
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut flour ~ 10 cals
  • 1/2 teaspoon of bee pollen ~ 8 cals
  • 3 dashes of ginger and 1 dash of turmeric ~ 2 cals
  • pure water and ice

Total Calories: 278

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“for every extra 100 calories a person eats (or drinks) each day, that adds up to 10 pounds at the end of a year. Just 100 calories! You know how easy that is?” ~ Dr. Chris Mohr

Less-Calories Recipe 2: Spinach Mango Smoothie

  • 1 1/2 cups of frozen organic spinach ~ 38 cals
  • 1 cup of other raw organic vegetables (e.g. parsley, cucumber) ~ 25 cals
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of raw organic macadamia nut butter ~ 54 cals
  • 14 small cubes of mango (about 1 1/2 cups) ~ 90 cals
  • One heaping tablespoon of plant-based protein “powder” (optional) ~ 55 cals

Total Calories: 262

I know of some Paleo athletes who – for a bit of additional protein – will add one raw (washed) organic farmer’s market egg; bringing the grand total to 325 calories.

“…if you saw my driver’s license photo, you wouldn’t recognize me in it — I barely recognize myself! The photo was taken before I discovered freshly made green smoothies, back when I was, well, fatter. After making and drinking smoothies for a year, all of that weight came off, plus my face looks less puffy and more youthful. I eventually had to get new clothes because even my ‘skinny clothes’ were too chubby.

Of course, it wasn’t all smooth-sailing: in the beginning, I made some mistakes (pretty much the same mistakes everyone makes). For instance, when I first started, I put milk and banana in a blender and then added some powder I got from a can at the grocery store. Wrong. That is not a freshly made green smoothie. Also, at first, smoothies made me light-headed and wouldn’t sustain my energy, but Dane showed me on to use the right ingredients and the right ratios. It turns out, I needed to add more ‘clean’ dietary fat, such as raw, sprouted seeds. Thanks to Dane, I feel better now than I ever have before. Freshly made green smoothies ROCK!”

–– David, Age 67

Caloric Intake: Doing the Nutritional Math in Recipes

What’s interesting about this is that (for the typically sedentary modern person) it’s believed by some that the body can process approximately 600 to 800 calories at a time and that when you exceed that amount, the body then has to store some of that macronutrient energy as fat.

woman holding green smoothie

So, suppose we use that 600-calorie mark as a barometer. In that case, we can see that these green smoothie recipes are providing us with a nutrient-rich meal packed with dietary fiber and low enough in calories to potentially prevent an unnecessary increase in body fat (depending on the day’s overall caloric intake).

Tip: some people are sensitive to kale and spinach when they consume them in their raw form in high amounts. If that’s you, then have your dark leafy greens with dinner instead – lightly cooking or steaming them (for your green smoothies, you can try cucumber, celery, cilantro, and broccoli).

I encourage you to experiment with these two simple green smoothie recipes.

Use them as a jumping-off point, adding or subtracting other ingredients and calories based on your unique needs for any given day.

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