Meal Replacement Smoothies: Tailor Your Shake To Your Body’s Needs

Meal replacement smoothies
Cleanse Joy Research TeamMeal Replacement
Smoothies Research
Editorial Team

Green recipe | Cacao recipe | Coffee | Superfoods | Weight loss | Benefits | Side effectsMake you own | Shakes vs. meals | References
Meal replacement smoothies are becoming very popular, but, can they truly replace solid meals? Are they healthy? Just like any diet or eating plan, smoothies have pros and cons. There are times where they can benefit an individual, there are scenarios where they cause problems.

Also, there’s no one size fit all smoothie recipe. You have to ask yourself what are you optimize for, and tailor the smoothie to your needs. For example, are you looking to lose weight, gain weight, or give your digestion a break?

In this guide, we’ll cover all these basics, including the top meal replacement smoothies you can start with, and how to tailor them to your needs. We’ll also review common warning signs that may indicate your smoothie do not agree with your body.

Green Meal Replacement Smoothies

Green Meal Replacement Smoothie

A great recipe you can get started with and use as a baseline, is the green meal replacement smoothie.

This recipe is very well balanced. This means both in terms of taste and function. It’s not too high in sugars, fats or calories, yet you still get enough nutrients to support your day. The ingredients can help nourish, gently detox and cleanse your body, support gut health, and promote natural energy, mood and focus.

Many people like to make this green smoothie in the morning, place in a glass bottle and sip through the day. Don’t be surprised if you find that you are not hungry by lunch.

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Green Meal Replacement Smoothie

The green meal replacement smoothie is a well balanced tasty recipe that help nourish, gently detox and cleanse your body, support gut health, and promote natural energy, mood and focus.
Prep Time5 minutes
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American, Indian, Mediterranean
Keyword: Green Meal Replacement Smoothie
Servings: 1
Author: Cleanse Joy Editorial Team


  • 1 cup spring water
  • 1-4 cups spinach, lettuce, or your favorite mixed greens Fiber, gut health, satiation, detox
  • 2 stalks celery  Electrolytes, minerals, fiber
  • 1 medium cucumber Hydration
  • 1-2 scoop BrainOn Brain function, focus, mood, chlorophyll, detox
  • 1 medium banana Electrolytes, minerals, fiber, improves taste, thickens the smoothie
  • 20-35 grams plant based protein powder Build and repair
  • 1 oz almonds (unroasted, unsalted) Essential fats, vitamin E, minerals, fiber, improves taste and consistency


  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (natural non-alcoholic ) improves taste
  • dash Stevia or monkfruit natural sweeteners


  • If you use unpasteurized almonds, soak the almonds in water for 8 hours or overnight
  • Drain and rinse the almonds
  • Add one cup of water and almonds to the blender, and blend until smooth
  • Add the greens, celery, cucumber, and banana and blend
  • Add the protein powder and BrainOn
  • Add dash of salt, stevia or monkfruit to taste and blend
  • Add a little vanilla and blend
  • Pour into a glass bottle, mason jar, or a cup, and enjoy!
  • If you take the bottle with you to work, keep refrigerated

How to Tailor Your Meal Replacement Smoothies

3 steps: make the smoothie base, add superfoods and herbs, and fine tune flavor.

1. Make the smoothie base

With the smoothie base, you cover the basic foundation of a meal, in particular, calories, protein, and fiber.

Fiber & Greens

Fiber promotes satiation and gut health. As a rule of thumb, start with the greens that you enjoy eating and go from there.

Spinach and romaine lettuce have more neutral mild sweet taste. Mixed greens are also a great option.

On the other hand, some greens can completely ruin your smoothie, and are a much better options for juices. In particular: bitter greens such as arugula, dandelion greens, kale, parsley, and cilantro. Nobody gets extra points for drinking healthy smoothies that don’t taste good. Meal replacement smoothies should taste wonderful.


Just like you approach a meal, you want to make sure you have enough calories in your smoothie to support your energy. In particular, ask yourself if you are going with fats or sugars. This need to match your diet plan, especially if you follow a low carb or a low fat diet.

What works well for most people is to start with a balanced approach. So, you mix moderate amount of whole fruits, nuts or seeds, and fine tune from there. Just like we have done with the green smoothie.

  • Other options: 
  • Nuts: 1 oz of raw natural nuts, such as almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts or cashews. Start with one type of nuts.
  • Fruits: 1 apple instead of the banana.
  • Protein. 1 scoop of plant based protein powder, or, 1 oz of hemp seeds.

2. Add medicinal herbs and superfoods to the smoothie

Certain herbs and foods have medicinal properties that can further support your goals. While this step is optional, it is actually where smoothies shine, as they act as a great “vehicle” that can help deliver these herbs.

Alcohol free liquid tinctures extracts or powders are ideal for smoothies or juices, compared to unprocessed raw herbs. They are easily to use, and usually do not alter the taste.

While you can consider many foods as superfoods, in this section, we focused in those natural ingredients that have unique nutrients most people don’t get in their diet.

Here are some of the top options of superfoods to add to your smoothie:


In the green smoothie above, we used BrainOn, which is a green blue algae extract that is high in Phenylethylamine (PEA), a natural component that can help support focus, brain function, and mood.

Other options for algae include:

  • E3Live® is a fresh blue-green algae that is very high in chlorophyll, the dark green pigment of plants. It is the only option in north america that comes fresh. This is a not powder! It is delivered frozen.
    Due to its superior nutritional profile with unique nutrients we rarely get from the western diet, E3Live® can help support multiple body systems.
    So, if you live in areas that it is shipped to, it is one of the best option for algae for overall support.
  • Bluemajik. (for inflammation, pain, migraines)
    Phycocyanin is one of the main active components in the blue green algae spirulina that give its blue color. Research has shown that phycocyanin has natural anti-inflammatory (cox-2 inhibitor) properties.[1].
  • Other great options for algae in smoothies: spirulina (energy, although it may affect the taste), chlorella (detox).

Stress & energy (caffeine free)

  • Tulsi (holy basil), calm stress, 1 dropperful
    One of Ayurvedic medicine most studied herb known for its ability to support the adrenal glands, calm stress, balance mood, and naturally boost physical and mental energy.[2]
  • Ginseng Fuzion, calm stress and promote energy, 1 dropperful
    Certified organic herbal blend of the five most studied types of ginseng: Korean Ginseng (Panax ginseng, root), Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus, root), Indian Ginseng/Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera, root), Peruvian Ginseng/Maca (Lepidium meyenii, root), Five Leaf Ginseng/Jiao Gu Lan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum, leaf). Note that each type may work a little different, so this formula is a great place to start.

Other super foods mentioned in this guide: cacao, matcha green tea and coffee. We’ll discuss these in the cacao – coffee – weight loss sections below.

3. Fine tune taste

Finally! This is the step where you get to optimize the taste of your smoothie.

On that note, the goal is not to completely mask the flavor, but to enhance the natural flavor with small changes. So, before you add sweeteners, check the overall taste of the smoothie. If it doesn’t taste good, it is best to go back and change the ingredients. (Rather than “dumping” the smoothie with sugary fruits or sweeteners).

  • Stevia or monkfruit. Little goes a long way! Balance with a little sea salt.
    A popular options most of our testers love, is sweet leaf Vanilla Crème or English Toffee liquid stevia.
  • Vanilla extract. A very pleasant flavor most people like which is a great starting point.
  • A few drops of lemon juice can help to neutralize the taste of greens
  • Cinnamon

If you use liquid extracts, make sure there’s no alcohol. Many people can still feel the aftertaste of the alcohol in the smoothie.

Happy Healthy Meal Replacement Smoothie

Happy Healthy Meal replacement smoothies

The Happy Healthy Smoothie Recipe
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Happy Healthy Meal Replacement Smoothie

Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American, Mediterranean
Keyword: Meal replacement smoothies, Raw cacao smoothie, The Happy Healthy Smoothie
Servings: 1 people
Author: Cleanse Joy Editorial Team


  • Blender


  • 1 cup spring water you can use less or more to adjust the consistency and texture
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder or cacao nibs organic
  • 1 oz almonds unsalted, unroasted, preferably unpasteurized
  • 1 oz hemp seeds
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup blueberries organic or wild
  • 2-4 oz raw spinach organic
  • 1 tbsp raw coconut butter
  • 1 scoop BrainOn
  • sea salt to taste (optional)
  • stevia or monk fruit to taste optional for natural healthy sweeteners, little goes a long way

Optional ingredients to play with based on your personal preferences, each can create a totally different experience!

  • 1 tbsp Lucuma  add more sweetness
  • 1 tbsp mesquite powder add more sweetness & earthy taste
  • 1 tbsp acai a meal replacement option for an acai bowl
  • dash vanilla powder or non alcoholic vanilla extract
  • dash cinnamon
  • dash cayenne pepper


  • If you use unpasteurized almonds, soak the almonds in water for 8 hours or overnight
  • Drain and rinse the almonds
  • Add one cup of water and almonds to the blender, and blend until smooth
  • Add the coconut butter and cacao and blend until smooth
  • Add the spinach, banana, blueberries, hemp seeds, and BrainON, and blend
  • Add dash of salt, stevia or monkfruit to taste and blend
  • Pour into a glass bottle, mason jar, or a cup, and enjoy! If you take the bottle with you to work, keep refrigerated

Tailor The Happy Healthy Meal Replacement Smoothie

  • Serving size. For most people, the quantities above provide 1-3 serving sizes.
  • Nuts. You can use hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts or macadamia nuts instead of the almonds.
  • Greens. Always rotate your greens. Instead of spinach, you can also use romaine lettuce which has a very neutral flavor. Mixed greens usually work as well.
  • Keto diet or other low carb diets. The recipe still tastes great without the banana and blueberries. For added flavor and calories, you can add more nuts.
  • Don’t like coconuts? You may want to try peanut butter instead. Most of our testers really loved the peanut butter in this recipe. Chocolate and peanuts, what can get wrong, right? Keep in mind, though, a lot of the peanut butter products our there have a lot of added sugars and salt. So, look for the ones that are 100% pure and organic.
  • Make protein shake or protein pudding.
    Depending on the desired consistent, mix one scoop of protein powder with the smoothie. Hemp protein works very well with this recipe.
    And the beauty here, is that you don’t have to use a blender to do that.
    Just place the smoothie in a glass bottle, and when its time to eat or drink, mix with the protein using a separate bowl later. We highly recommend to try the pudding consistency.
  • Turn into acai bowl. Similar idea to the protein pudding, just add one tablespoon of acai powder and mix.

Meal replacement smoothies for weight loss

Meal replacement smoothies for weight loss are popular yet controversial. Solid meals still have a big advantage over smoothies, when it comes to the satiation and slow release of nutrients. Thus, you are likely to consume less calories when you eat solid meals.

On the other hand, many people respond very well to smoothies. And, due to their schedule, struggle with eating healthy foods. For example, at the office, or while on the go. So, meal replacement smoothies still offer a practical way to get healthy nutrients and avoid snacking, sugary beverages and other problematic eating patterns. These, as we all know, often lead to weight gain.

Here are a few suggestions for meal replacement smoothies for weight loss. Keep in mind, there’s much more to weight loss than just calories or nutrients. For example, hormones, stress levels, sleep, exercise, and many other factors can play a role and affect your ability to lose or gain weight.

Meal replacement smoothies with coffee

Meal replacement smoothies with coffee

Bulletproof coffee smoothie

In case this is the first time you hear about the bulletproof coffee, here’s a quick recap. It’s a high-fat very low carb coffee meal replacement smoothie, usually for breakfast.

With the original recipe, you make a smoothie with:

  • 1 cup of brewed coffee
  • 1-2 teaspoon of C8 Caprylic Acid Triglycerides MCT oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons of grass-fed, unsalted butter

The recipe truly complement the keto diet, which is one of the most popular diets for weight loss. The biggest advantages of the bulletproof coffee is that it can help to suppress hunger and maintain energy for many hours. Thus, when combined with a low carb diet such as the keto diet, it can help with weight loss despite being high in calories.

At the same time, the biggest critique come from the fact that besides fats, the majority of these calories (about 440) are very low in other nutrients. Think about vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein. There are not a lot in this recipe. In fact, one may argue that most of the minerals in this recipe come from the coffee, which has zero calories.

The upgraded vegan bulletproof coffee smoothie

An alternative approach to the recipe that attempt to solve the concerns of the original recipe, is the vegan bulletproof coffee smoothie recipe:

  • 1 cup of brewed coffee
  • 1-2 teaspoon of coconut butter. Also called coconut paste, this is simply the coconut flesh that’s been ground into a paste. Coconuts are naturally high in MCT oils, but, you also get the other minerals and fiber from the coconut.

Matcha green tea meal replacement smoothie

Matcha Latte Smoothie

The best way to describe matcha green tea when it comes to smoothies is that it tastes more like green powder than green tea. Matcha is special stone-ground powdered green tea, so unlike a tea bag which you just dip into the water, you are getting a lot more nutrients here. In fact, a study that compared matcha to regular green tea found matcha had 137 times more antioxidants.[3].

Matcha can help suppress hunger, increase energy and promote a sense of well-being. The combination of the naturally occurring caffeine and theanine in matcha can have a longer effect compared to coffee. So, while you may feel less energized compared to coffee, you may avoid the coffee-caffeine crashes.

A simple meal replacement smoothie with matcha:

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1-2 teaspoons matcha green tea powder. Keep in mind, 1 teaspoon of matcha still has 60 mg of caffeine, so if you are sensitive to caffeine, start low and slow.
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup spinach or your favorite greens
  • Ice cubes (optional)
  • Stevia or monkfruit to taste (optional)

Other Smoothies Recipes:

Meal replacement smoothies vs. solid meals

Smoothies work by breaking down the fiber in plants. So, you get a concentrated source of nutrients in a liquid form that the body can digest quickly and easily, compared to solid food.

While there are scenarios that this is exactly what you need, the quick release of nutrients is not always ideal. For example, when you get too much sugar too quickly. In fact, some people benefit much more from the gradual slow release of nutrients and do not do so well with smoothies.

So, it is important to ask yourself:

  1. Why smoothies? what are you optimize for?
  2. Pay attention to how you feel after drinking the smoothies.

Here’s a brief summary of the benefits of smoothies along with warning signs to watch for:

4 meal replacement smoothies benefits

Meal replacement smoothies may shine in the following scenarios:

1. You have gut health of digestive issues, or want to give your digestion a break

In particular, because smoothies are easier to digest compared to solid meals

The liquid form of meal replacement smoothies allow your body to better digest and utilize the nutrients. This can help your gut to rest more and heal.  Plus, your body also get the fiber from the smoothies to further support healthy bacteria growth in the gut.

2. You need quick energy and nutrients, but can’t eat a heavy meal

This is a known need of athletes and people with active jobs, but, can  lot of people don’t always have time to eat during the day. For example, students, or people with crazy work schedules.

This distinction is important, because you will need to tailor your smoothies to your activity and ideally, improve your performance. This goes beyond just energy. Think about a pre-workout vs. post workout smoothies that can support your recovery from the exercise, or, a smoothie before a test that can help you stay focus longer.

3. You are trying to gain weight

While meal replacement smoothies for weight loss may work for some people, they are far a better option to gain weight.

Simply put, it is usually easier to drink more calories compared to eating solid foods. This is especially true for people with very fast metabolism or that are very active. Sure, there’a always the fast junk food option which is very high in calories, but, we are taking here about healthy weight gain.

4. You don’t eat enough green, vegetables or fruits

Speaking of health, some people just don’t like to eat vegetables, greens or fruits. So, if this sounds like you, smoothies may become your best friends. Especially, when it comes to greens. While everyone is different, most people will find a green smoothie much more appealing than eating the greens by themselves.

Also, smoothies can also be a good way to introduce healthy foods you rarely eat. Thus, provide your body a higher variety of nutrients.

Meal replacement smoothies cons & problems

Below are some of the most common issues people experience with smoothies, and ways to solve them. Keep in mind, not all people respond well to smoothies. So, it is important to look for these warning signs. You can then decide if you want to try to tailor your smoothies or switch to solid meals.

1. Smoothies cause digestive issues

Meal replacement smoothies often cause digestive issues such as:

  • Bloating
  • Excess gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain and cramps
  • Unusual bowel movements

Symptoms may appear minutes to hours after drinking the smoothie.

Possible causes. Too many sugars, too many ingredients, or problematic food combination. For example, smoothies that contain watery fruits such as melon or watermelon with “heavy” slower foods such as nuts, oils or protein. Each of these foods require a completely different environment in your digestive tract in order to be properly digested.

A few suggestions to prevent these issues:

  • Simple is better. Reduce the number of ingredients. Especially, if you suspect your body may be sensitive to certain foods in your smoothie.
  • Speaking of food sensitivities, grains, gluten and dairy are the biggest offenders. So, instead of whey protein, try hemp protein. Replace the Greek yogurt with coconut yogurt, or the milk/oat milk with nut milk.
  • Watch for the sugar content. A great free online tool to calculate:  cronometer.
  • Do not mix different types of fruits. It is ok however, to mix different berries, or fruits with similar characteristic (sweet).
  • Do not use high water content fruits such as watermelon or melons. You should eat these by themselves. A few drops of lemon to neutralize the taste of greens is ok, though.
  • Be mindful about combining high sugars with high fats.
  • Drink on an empty stomach.
  • Drink smaller amounts over time.

Lastly, it is always better to go organic when it comes to smoothies

To avoid a reaction to pesticides in your produce. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has published a list of twelve fruits and vegetables that are exposed to the most pesticides. Also called “dirty dozen”, if you can’t find these organic, it is better to avoid them altogether.

So, it is best to educate yourself about pesticides in foods, and shop wisely. See the EWG’s complete report: Dirty dozen list.

2. Smoothies make you feel tired with low energy

If you feel sleepy or tired after you drink the smoothie, chances are you experience blood sugar fluctuations, or insulin resistance issues.

While many people ignore these signs, they can be important red flags for type II diabetes or pre diabetes.

Things you can do:

  • Reduce sugar content
  • Drink smaller amounts over time
  • Practice intermittent fasting and drink the smoothie to break the fast
  • Switch to a whole solid meal


  1. Antiinflammatory and Antihyperalgesic Activity of C-phycocyanin
  2. Tulsi – Ocimum sanctum: A herb for all reasons
  3. Determination of Catechins in Matcha Green Tea by Micellar Electrokinetic Chromatography.