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Low-sugar smoothies you’ll love

image of smoothies with strawberries and hemp seeds
Low sugar smoothies you'll love

Low-sugar smoothies are a balanced way to get your day off to the right start or to tide you over between meals. They supply the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and basic materials your body needs to manage stress, elevate your mood, and stay focused and productive. However, it’s easy to go overboard with sugar in smoothies, so it’s helpful to learn the dos (and don’ts) to create a low-sugar healthy smoothie that tastes sweet.

Before we get to the low-sugar smoothie how-tos and ideas, we’ll cover a few things you need to know about fruit sugar. I’ll also share some of my favorite protein options that will make your low-sugar smoothie filling, too!

What is fruit sugar?

Let’s clear up some confusion around the difference between fruit sugar and added sugar. Fruit sugar is the sugar that naturally occurs in fruit, and it comes with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other bioactive health-supporting substances.

Added sugar is the sugar that you (or a manufacturer) add to food to make it taste better. Examples of added sugar include less refined sweeteners, like honey and maple syrup, and more refined sweeteners, like white table sugar. Added sugars are anything except the natural sugars in fruit (more on this below) and dairy foods (though plenty of dairy foods have added sugars, too).

Is fruit sugar bad?

No! People often think fruit sugar is bad, but that’s not true. Fruit is a whole food that supplies healthful vitamins, minerals, and compounds in a matrix that includes some naturally occurring sugar. You don’t have to worry about the sugar in fresh fruit. I promise!

And the truth is that most people get too little fruit and too much added sugar in their diet. According to the latest stats, US adults consume an average of 17 teaspoons of added sugars compared to the 6 to 9 teaspoons (max) recommended for women and men, respectively. On the other hand, 88% of adults don’t get enough fruit in their diet, according to the CDC. So, in reality, it’s likely that you’d benefit from fruit.

Is fruit sugar bad for type 2 diabetes?

Again, the answer is no. The American Diabetes Association gives fruit the green light, so you know fruit sugar isn’t bad for people with type 2 diabetes. Instead, fruit is counted as a carbohydrate, and it’s usually recommended with other foods, so a smoothie is a wonderful way to consume fruit as long as the amount of fruit and other add-ins are within your carbohydrate allotment for the meal.

Additionally, researchers analyzed 23 studies that tracked people’s eating habits and health over time, concluding that most fruits are associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. This lines up with other research on the topic, indicating that having a low-sugar smoothie made with fruit is a healthy meal or snack option that may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes as part of a balanced, nutritious eating pattern.

Is fruit sugar bad for weight loss?

Nope! Not in the least. In fact, a 2020 analysis crunched data from numerous studies involving clinical trials and large population studies. The beauty of this research is that it included different ethnicities and women at different life stages, including postmenopausal women.

The scientists found that increased fruit consumption was strongly linked with weight stability or weight loss in women. This is because fruit is filling yet fairly low in calories, so your brain gets the signal that you’re full before you’ve exceeded your body’s needs. So go ahead and enjoy your fruit–in a smoothie or as part of a meal or snack.

How to make low-sugar healthy smoothies

Here comes the fun part. Here are the ingredients to mix and match to make smoothie magic. When adding ingredients to your blender, start with the liquid, then add your protein source, frozen or fresh fruit, greens, healthy fat, seasonings, and ice. This will help it blend more easily. If you find your smoothie isn’t blending well, add more liquid and give it a good stir.

graphic showing fruits and vegetables to add to a low-sugar smoothie
How to make a low-sugar healthy smoothie

  • Fruit. Start with 1 cup of fresh or frozen fruit. Some of the sweetest fruits for smoothies include strawberries, blueberries, mangoes, bananas, pineapple, cherries, and peaches. If you start with frozen fruit, you’ll get a thicker, creamier smoothie, which is tastier and more filling. Also, if you want to add a date or a prune or two, go for it. These dried fruits are especially sweet, so they’ll naturally sweeten your smoothie without adding sugar.

  • Veggies. Add 2 cups (or two fistfuls) of fresh greens or 1 cup of frozen greens, frozen cauliflower, raw carrots, or fresh or frozen zucchini. Note that zucchini is very watery, so cut down on the liquid if you’re using zucchini. Feel free to experiment with other veggies, too. These are my favorites, but you might like something else!

  • Protein. Add ¾ c. plain Greek yogurt (or choose a low-sugar yogurt in vanilla or another flavor) or a clean protein powder (with no artificial flavors, preservatives, or sweeteners). See my recs for low-sugar yogurt and clean protein powder below!

  • Plant-based fat. Toss in ½ to 2 tablespoons nut or nutless butters, chia, hemp, or ground flaxseeds, or 1/3-1/2 avocado. You can also use a combo of these ingredients, such as ½ tablespoon of peanut butter and ½ tablespoon of ground flaxseeds.

  • Liquid. Use ½ -1 cup unsweetened low-sugar plant-based milk or dairy milk or the same amount of coconut water, pre-steeped tea (such as green tea or chai), cold or room temperature coffee. I always start with the lower amount of liquid and add more until I reach a creamy, thick consistency.

  • Seasonings. Experiment with cocoa or cacao powder, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, ginger, unsweetened matcha powder (sourced from Japan), and vanilla extract. Use these to taste. I tend to go heavy on seasonings!

  • Ice. Toss a handful or two of ice cubes in the blender because ice adds more volume (read: bigger smoothie), and because it’s really cold, it takes longer to sip. That helps you drink more slowly and mindfully, making your smoothie more satisfying on every level. I tend to add lots of ice.

Graphic showing protein, milk, and fats to add to a low-sugar healthy smoothie
Ingredients to add to a low-sugar healthy smoothie


Using a powerful blender will help you get the perfect smoothie texture. I’ve sampled numerous blenders. Here are a few blenders at different price points that work well.

Protein to add to low-sugar smoothies

Infographic showing protein options to add to low-sugar smoothies
Protein to add to low-sugar smoothies

Low-sugar yogurt

My favorite low-sugar yogurt is siggi’s because all of their flavored varieties are very tame in added sugars, and I can’t say that about any other mainstream brand. I’ve been working with siggi’s for the past two years, and I’m so excited because they completely align with my values.

All of their flavors are truly delicious, but for the sake of making a low-sugar smoothie, you can explore their coconut, cherry, mixed berry acai, and peach varieties. Siggi’s also makes my favorite plant-based yogurt because it has 10 grams of protein and a reasonable amount of added sugar.

Low-sugar protein powder

If you’re looking for a clean, low-sugar protein powder, I recommend Noosh Almond Protein for a flavorless, vegan option. Naked Rice and Simply Fuel Chickpea Protein Powder are two excellent choices if you're allergic to nuts and want a vegan option.

If you’re shopping for a low-sugar protein powder, choose one with minimal ingredients, fillers, manufactured fibers, and sweeteners. Some of my favorites include Naked Whey Vanilla and Naked Whey Chocolate. The ingredients in Vega Protein Made Simple Dark Chocolate and Vanilla are also really clean. All of these varieties are low in added sugars. (If you're interested, learn about the benefits of collagen.)

If you want a flavored version made with no added sugar, I’d suggest Tera’s Whey, made with stevia. However, if you’re eating this regularly, watch other sources of stevia since it’s best not to overdo sugar or stevia.

Additional sources of protein for smoothies

Here are some other sources of protein that work well in smoothies. (If you're not in the mood for a smoothie, check out my high-protein baked oat breakfast.)

  • Tofu

  • Beans

  • Cottage cheese (my fave is Good culture because it doesn’t have any gums or fillers, and it has gut-healthy probiotics)

3 Low-sugar smoothies that taste deliciously sweet

Here are a few of my favorite low-sugar smoothie recipes that I make on repeat! Feel free to swap out ingredients to make them your own.

Chocolate-Cherry Smoothie

3/4 cup frozen cherries, ¼ frozen banana, 2 handfuls fresh, pre-washed kale, 3/4 c. plain Greek yogurt, 1 Tbsp. chia seeds, ½ cup brewed coffee (cold or room temp), ½ cup almond milk, 2 tsp. cocoa powder.

Matcha-Mango-Ginger Green Smoothie

1 cup frozen mangoes, 3/4 c. plain Greek yogurt, 1/3 avocado, 2 cups baby spinach, ½ to 1 c. almond milk, ½ tsp. ground ginger, ½ tsp. matcha powder.

Blueberry Tahini Smoothie

1 c. frozen blueberries, 3/4 c. plain Greek yogurt, 2 handfuls baby spinach 1 Tbsp. tahini, 1 c. almond milk, ½ tsp. Cinnamon.

The bottom line on low-sugar smoothies

Packed with protein, fruits, veggies, and healthful fats, low-sugar smoothies are the perfect meal or snack for your body and mind. They help you get more fruits and veggies into your diet, taste delicious, and fill you up in a balanced way.

If you like these recipes and want to eat more plant foods and less added sugar in your life without giving up foods you love, you might like my 4 week meal plan! It’s bundled with a crash course in mindful eating lite (because I eat in front of a screen sometimes, and I bet you do, too), and it’s packed with 60+ recipes, including more low-sugar smoothie ideas!

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