Best Liquid for Smoothies – 11 Popular Options Compared

Do you love smoothies but struggle with choosing the the best liquid to use? Or maybe you want to broaden your smoothie horizons by using new ingredients. Look no further! We’ve got you covered with a comprehensive guide on the best liquid for smoothies based on your goals.

Also, don’t forget that if you need a blender, check out our rankings for the best smoothie blenders!

Here is a chart that shows how each liquid compares relative to each other. The chart shows how many total calories are in the liquid with the red portion being the calories attributed to protein. The more red you have relative to the entire length of the bar, the more protein-dense the liquid is.

Smoothie Liquids Compared

Whole Milk

carton of whole milk
Whole Milk
ProteinCaloriesProtein Density
Values per 1 cup
SourceFlavor Profile
cowSlightly sweet, creamy

Good ol’ fashioned milk. Not the best liquid for smoothies for those looking to gain weight, but it’s not far from the top.

Whole milk adds 8 grams of protein to your shake per cup used. Most people love the taste of milk and milky smoothies are very popular.

149 calories per cup isn’t nearly as much found in coconut milk, but it is still pretty high compared to milks that are lower in fat.

If you want to add muscle definition without gaining much fat, milk may be a good option if you are very active. If you’re looking to lose weight in general, choosing 2%, 1%, or skim milk may be a better choice since they contain the same amount of protein with less calories. No matter what dairy milk you choose, you’ll get a decent amount of Vitamins A & D.

If you are lactose intolerant, no dairy milk will work unless it’s labeled “lactose-free”. Lactose-free milk has had the enzyme lactase added to it that digests lactose for you.You can also consider non-dairy milks like soy milk.

2% Reduced Fat Milk

carton of 2%, reduced fat milk
ProteinCaloriesProtein Density
Values per 1 cup of 2% Milk
SourceFlavor Profile
cowSlightly sweet, slightly creamy

2% milk contains the same 8 grams of protein as whole milk. But it saves you 27 calories that comes from the additional fat found in whole milk.

It’s an easy way to save a bit of calories while still maintaining the flavor of whole milk.

2% is a popular dairy milk because it contains enough milk fat to almost have the same taste and texture of whole milk. But it saves considerable calories.

1% Low Fat Milk

1 percent milk
ProteinCaloriesProtein Density
Values per 1 cup
SourceFlavor Profile
cowSlightly sweet, thin texture

1% milk still contains the 8 grams of protein found in whole milk. But is contains 47 fewer calories per cup.

This option has half the fat and half the saturated fat found in 2% milk. If you like a little bit of fat in your milk but you don’t like the calories that comes with it, 1% is a great option.

Your smoothie liquid will be a bit more watered down relative to whole milk. But it still has that dairy milk flavor that most of us love.

Fat Free (Skim) Milk

👍 Highest Protein Density

carton of fat free milk
ProteinCaloriesProtein Density
Values per 1 cup
SourceFlavor Profile
cowSlightly sweet, watery texture

Skim milk is an incredibly great choice for those wanting to add muscle definition while minimizing fat gain. It contains the same 8 grams of protein found in whole milk but at almost half the calories.

Zero Fat But All The Vitamins

As it contains no fat, it has the same consistency of water. But it is much more nutritious. Like other dairy milks, it has very similar amounts of Vitamins A & D.

Soy Milk

👍 Best Vegan & Lactose-Free Choice for Building Muscle

carton of soy milk
ProteinCaloriesProtein Density
Values per 1 cup of unsweetened soy milk
SourceFlavor Profile
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is plant.pngMild, “beany” flavor that varies between brands

Soy milk has been on the market for a while. It is very similar to Skim Milk in terms of the amount of protein and calories found in it.

If you are lactose intolerant, you are likely already familiar with soy milk. The amount of calories and protein found in soy milk can differ slightly based on the brand. It’s often fortified with healthy nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and calcium.

Coconut Water

coconut water
ProteinCaloriesProtein Density
Values per 1 cup of coconut water
SourceFlavor Profile
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is palm-tree.pngSweet, nutty

Coconut water is one of those things that comes in several different brands. It has exploded in popularity relatively recently so there are more choices than there used to be.

It is low in calories, containing only 45 per 1 cup. It does have about 9% of the daily value of Vitamin C. Regular dairy milk has no Vitamin C.

It is much lower in fat that most options found on this page. Raw coconut water contains only 0.5 grams of fat per cup. Compare that to 2.4 grams found in 1% milk.

Oat Milk

Carton of Chobani Oat Milk
ProteinCaloriesProtein Density
Values per 1 cup of unsweetened oat milk
SourceFlavor Profile
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is plant.pngSweet, nutty, creamy

Oat milk is a relative newcomer to the mass market. Oat milk contains 90 calories and just 3 grams of protein per cup.

What it lacks for in protein relative to dairy milk, it makes up in other ways. It often has more Vitamin A, more Vitamin D, and more calcium than what is found in either whole, 2%, 1%, or fat-free dairy milk, as long as it has been fortified with these nutrients It also contains slightly more iron than dairy milk.

Almond Milk

👍 Popular Low-Calorie Option👍

1 quart of Simply Almond brand almond milk
ProteinCaloriesProtein Density
Values per 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
SourceFlavor Profile
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is almond-tree.pngNutty, hint of sweetness

Almond milk is one of those non-dairy “milks” that are found in abundance in the dairy section of your grocery store. Many people have developed a taste for it and its low-calorie nature makes it a great option.

Almond milk has just 1 gram of protein. But of every option on this page, it contains the most calcium. 1 cup of almond milk has 37% of your daily value of calcium.

When choosing an almond milk, always go with an unsweetened option. Else you’ll just pack on the calories!

Cashew Milk

👍 Leanest Nut Milk

Carton of Elmhurst Cashew Milk
ProteinCaloriesProtein Density
Values per 1 cup of unsweetened cashew milk
SourceFlavor Profile
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is almond-tree.pngMild, sweet, creamy

Cashew milk is a relative newcomer to the mass-market. However, it seems to have found a foothold.

It only contains 1 gram of protein per cup. But it also only has 25 calories per cup.

If you want the slimmest protein shake you can make, but don’t want to use water, then opt for cashew milk.

Stay Slim With Cashew Milk

If you want a lean nut milk for smoothies, consider cashew milk. It has the least amount of calories of any nut milk or dairy milk. Unlike whole dairy milk, you can consume a lot of cashew milk and not consume a lot of calories.

Cashew milk contains the same amount of Vitamin A as dairy milk but has more Calcium. This makes cashew milk a great, nutritious option for smoothies!

Coconut Milk

👍 Best for Gaining Weight

lass pitcher of coconut milk
ProteinCaloriesProtein Density
Values per 1 cup of coconut milk
SourceFlavor Profile
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is palm-tree.pngNutty, salty, sweet

While it has 5.5 grams of protein, raw coconut milk has a whopping 552 calories total. Most of the calories come from fat. Coconut milk contains 57.1 grams of fat. 51 grams of that total is saturated fat!

If you are underweight and are need to gain weight as fast as possible, coconut milk is a great liquid to use in your smoothies. You most likely will want to pick up coconut milk at your grovery store but you can make your own.

steph well small
Stephanie Wells, RD

Dietician’s Note

Keep in mind that this information applies to canned coconut milk, which is much thicker and higher in fat than coconut milk bought in cartons that are found with other non-dairy milk in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Coconut milk in cartons contains closer to 0 grams of protein and 40 calories in one cup.

Canned “lite” coconut milk also exists and falls in between regular canned coconut milk and coconut milk in cartons in terms of its fat, protein, and calorie content.

Fresh Juice

👍 Nutrient Rich

Freshly-squeezed orange juice in bottles
ProteinCaloriesProtein Density
SourceFlavor Profile
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is plant.pngVaries, tends towards acidic

Fresh juice can be a great addition to your smoothies! It is healthy, nutrient dense, and the possibilities are almost endless.

Try to avoid store-bought juice! Unless you buy 100% juice, the juice you find in stores tends to have added sugars, dyes, perfumes, and other chemicals to prevent decay. Fresh juice is the way to go!

Pro Tip: If you want to store fresh juice for later use in smoothies, you should consider masticating or press juicers. Those produce the most shelf-stable juicers that last up to 3 days in a refrigerator.


👍 Best Choice if You Want to Lose Weight

A person's hand holding a pitcher of water, pouring it into a clear glass
ProteinCaloriesProtein Density
SourceFlavor Profile

Water has no protein and zero calories. It doesn’t add anything taste-wise to your smoothie either.

Most people do not care much for smoothies where water is used as the liquid. However, there are some recipes out there that it works better with. Try using carbonated water or throwing in mint leaves for a touch of flavor.

If you want the lowest calorie smoothie you can whip up, this is your choice!

The Best Liquid for You Depends Upon Your Goals

We looked at almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, every type of dairy milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, and coconut water to help you find the best liquid for smoothies.
We analyzed every one of these products to help you pick the best liquid for smoothies.

Are you wanting to lose weight? Bulk up? Or maintain muscle definition?

Best Smoothie Liquid for Losing Weight

Water is the best option for shedding pounds. But if you’re looking for more flavor, try adding a splash of fresh fruit juice or infusing your water with herbs like mint or basil. You can also experiment with flavored sparkling water for a fizzy twist on your smoothies.

Want a liquid that provides a more milky flavor and texture? Then opt for cashew milk or almond milk. Either option is low in calories.

woman pouring water in glass

If you can drink a smoothie mixed with water, great! But if you can’t, the smoothie won’t do you any good since you won’t drink it. If you can’t do water-based smoothies, try out other low-calorie options like cashew or almond milk.

Best Liquid for Smoothies For Muscle Definition

The best smoothie liquid for building muscle without gaining much fat is skim milk, followed by soy milk and 2%, reduced-fat milk. Skim milk and soy milk are both high in protein relative to the number of calories in each. I and others refer to this as protein density. These two liquids are the most protein dense options you’ll find.

Remember that building muscle requires a combination of diet and resistance exercise.

pouring milk

Adding protein to your diet but not getting proper exercise will just add pounds, but not muscle, to your body. In addition to getting more protein, you’ll need to regularly engage in resistance exercises like weight-lifting, Pilates, using resistance bands, and calisthenics. And don’t forget to add in some nutrient-dense ingredients like spinach or chia seeds to fuel your workouts.

Best Smoothie Liquid for Gaining Weight

If you’re looking to bulk up, canned coconut milk is your best bet with its high calorie and fat content. Keep in mind that canned coconut milk is extremely high in saturated fat, so don’t forget to alternate it with some healthier fats like avocado or nut butter for a well-rounded smoothie routine.

Keep in mind that canned coconut milk is extremely calorie-dense. So it is ideal for those that struggle to gain or maintain weight. Most people will not want to regularly consume smoothies made with canned coconut milk. You can also consider coconut milk sold in cartons, which tends to be much lower in calories and fat.

Liquids for Smoothies With the Most Calories

From the highest amount of calories to the lowest

Canned Coconut Milk552 kCal
Whole Milk149 kCal
2% Milk122 kCal
1% Milk102 kCal
Skim Milk 83 kCal
Oat Milk90 kCal
Soy Milk 80 kCal
Coconut Water45 kCal
Almond Milk37 kCal
Cashew Milk25 kCal
Water0 kCal

In Conclusion

Now that you have all the information, it’s time to whip up your own perfect smoothie! Share your favorite recipes and liquid choices in the comments below. If you need to store your smoothies, check out these 5 simple ways to do so.

madison wilfred

Nutritionist’s Tip

Want to know what some of the best smoothie supplements are? Madison Wilfred, our resident nutrition expert weighs in.

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