The keto diet, which encourages high intake of fats and very low carb intake, has amassed a devoted following due to its results-driven formals: quick and relatively painless weight loss. The keto diet is all about eliminating carbs, to drive the body to a state of ketosis, during which it begins to burn more fat for energy instead. When most people think of carbs, they think of the obvious ones: bread, potatoes, cookies, and cake. But some of the healthy foods we enjoy are also carb-heavy! Fruit, for example, also tends to be high in carbs, which means bananas, apples, and much of your other favorite produce is no longer an option while on keto. This can be especially hard in the summer, when very little is more satisfying and refreshing than a healthful smoothie. The good news, though, is that while you might not be able to enjoy a traditional fruit smoothie if you’re giving keto a go, you still have options. Here’s how to make a delicious keto-friendly smoothie.
The Keto Smoothie Ratio
There are a few general ingredient categories that almost all smoothies include, and the key to making a great one is getting the ratio of those ingredients just right. Most smoothie recipes consist of fruit, liquid (like milk, water, fruit juice, or yogurt), and often fat and/or other mix-ins (including nut butters, avocado, seeds, and more). Generally, a ratio of about three parts fruit to two parts liquid with a few ice cubes creates the desired consistently. If you use frozen fruit, you’d skip the ice cubes and add one more part liquid. Then, a few teaspoons of add-ins finish off the drink. When you’re on the keto diet, though, consuming that much fruit isn’t generally an option. Luckily, the solution is pretty easy: Just swap in non-starchy greens for all or some of the fruit.
Fruits & Veggies for Keto Smoothies
Most fruit smoothies start with a banana for a base, but since one medium banana is likely going to push your daily carb allowance while on keto, you’ll need to find an alternative. Other traditional smoothie fruits like mango and pineapple are also too high in carbs for a keto smoothie. The solution? Berries! With just five to six net grams of carbs per hundred grams, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries are great (and delicious) options. Blueberries are a little higher in carbs than other berries, so use them sparingly. To make sure you stay under your carb limit, start with half a cup of berries instead of the full cup you might use for a traditional smoothie.
To fill out your smoothie, turn to non-starchy greens. While it might sound a little strange, cauliflower and zucchini are great places to start as they have creamy textures that turn out pretty similar to fruit when put through a blender. Cucumber, spinach, bell peppers, and broccoli are also great choices. Kale is also an option but be careful that you don’t over-use sweetening agents to mask its bitter taste. If you need some help helping you figure out how many carbs are in your chosen smoothie ingredients and if you’re doing your math right, but don’t have the time or patience to Google each ingredent, we suggest tapping an expert for an assist. A program such as Noom offers, among other services, on-call nutritionists who users can consult with just a tap of a screen.
Liquid for Keto Smoothies
Full-fat coconut milk is a natural choice for keto smoothies. Almond milk, hemp milk, and other plant-based milks that are lower in fat are also good choices, though if you go in that direction, definitely add some nut butter or avocado for extra fat. If you can tolerate it, whole milk Greek yogurt is another option. Skip traditional milk, which contains sugar (aka carbs). Any sort of sweetened milk is also a no-no, as is, of course, any sort of fruit juice.
Mix-Ins for Keto Smoothies
With smoothies, add-ins are where the real fun comes — especially on the keto diet. Fats like avocado and nut and seed butters are great choices, as they create thick and creamy smoothies that are incredibly keto-friendly. Whole nuts and seeds can also be delicious in smoothies. For flavor, try mix-ins like herbs (mint or basil), spices (cinnamon or ginger), and oils (hazelnut or walnut). Coconut flakes, vanilla extract, and cacao are other delicious additions that do a great job balancing out the savory taste of veggies in your smoothie. If you want a little bit of protein, go for a powder that isn’t sweetened. Without fruit as a base, it can be tempting to add sweeteners. If you go this route, you might choose one that’s carb-free like stevia, monk fruit, or erythritol. Noom can help you out with these tricky recipe decisions — and help keep you on track with resources such as calorie and food tracking right in the app. Happy sipping!