Smoothie vs. Shake: What’s The Difference?

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“What would you like to have?”

“Well, a smoothie would be nice!”

“We currently only have shakes.”

“That works too. They are the same things with different ingredients.”

Let us stop you right there. Smoothies and Shakes have been battling a lifelong battle to prove their identity for years. Despite their “similar” appearance, shakes and smoothies are very different. They vary in terms of their composition, their taste, and also their nutrient value.

Smoothies and shakes are often used interchangeably, but they differ in quite some ways. Not just from the texture point of view, smoothies are denser since they contain a lot more fruits and have a thicker texture compared to shakes.

We will discuss the difference (and similarities) between smoothies and shakes that you probably didn’t know of.

About Smoothies

Healthy Smoothies

Smoothies are “drinks” made out of fruits and vegetables (fresh and frozen) and often have very little to no amount of milk and yogurt in them. They are all chucked into a blender and mixed into a fine paste until all the ingredients are blended and mixed well.

Compared to shakes, smoothies are thick and sometimes can even be eaten out of a bowl like ice cream if frozen ingredients are used. Some of the common fruits and vegetables that make a good addition to smoothies include:

  • Banana
  • Strawberry
  • Blueberry
  • Kiwi
  • Green vegetables
  • Frozen cauliflower
  • Nuts
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Spinach, etc.

Remember that the best thing about making a smoothie is the flexibility to choose your ingredients. You can pick whatever you want to add to the blender.

About Shakes

Often more commonly known as Milkshakes, these are more in the “dessert” category since they have milk, yogurt, and even sugary ingredients added to them.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t healthy shakes on the market. Again, like smoothies, the ingredients completely depend on the person’s choice. The ingredients decide whether or not the shake is healthy or not.

It is a healthy shake if you add minimal ingredients like protein powder, milk, frozen fruits, etc. However, if you add fruits, cream, milk, ice cream, or whipped cream, chances are it won’t hold the same nutritional value.

The dessert-like milkshakes are high in protein but also high in calories due to their sugar, whipped cream, and other dairy products. So, the choice of ingredients makes all the difference in the long run.

Smoothie vs. Shake: Similarities

When it comes to the battle of smoothies vs. shakes, the most common confusion lies in the similarities. Aren’t they the same thing?

Technically, yes and no. But why?

The similarities between these two drinks depend on the ingredients you add. If you make a smoothie with fresh fruits but want it to be more liquid-y, adding more milk or water should turn it into a shake instead of a smoothie. No wonder their names are used interchangeably.

That said, let us walk you through some of the similarities:

Both smoothies and shakes can be made using fruits, vegetables, and trace amounts of dairy products. The ingredients can either be frozen or fresh, depending on the drinker’s consistency.

Both smoothies and shakes are “sweet” drinks or variant of food. Even if you don’t add sugar, honey, or agave to sweeten your smoothie, the fruits are sweet enough to categorize the smoothie under a sweet food item.

Both smoothies and shakes are liquid. To be fair, shakes are normally a viscous liquid texture. Smoothies, on the other hand, have a slightly thicker and more dense texture due to the fruits and the vegetables and the less liquid in them.

Not just the similarities, you need to familiarize yourself with the differences as well.

Smoothie vs. Shake: Factors to Compare

Smoothie vs. Shake

This is where you learn why smoothies and shakes aren’t the same. We will explore the texture, history, nutritional value, and much more to draw a proper conclusion to the debate.

Overall Nutrition

When it comes to calorie comparison, smoothies are generally more nutritious. Since smoothies typically consist of fruits and vegetables with very few dairy products, carbs and fat content are comparably less.

On the other hand, shakes are typically made with a base of milk or ice cream, adding a lot more calories to them. Some even have a topping of whipped cream and sprinkles, which further adds to the calories.

Note: A handful of shakes are nutritious, for example, protein shakes. But, those are rare conditions.

Protein Content

While we are on the topic of nutrition, we have to discuss the protein content too. In this case, smoothies lose the battle over shakes.

Since smoothies typically contain fruits and vegetables with little milk or water, their protein content is exceptionally low. On the flip side, shakes are fortified with milk, protein powder, ice cream, whipped cream, etc., which adds to the drink’s protein content.

Some individuals might also add a scoop or two of protein powder to their smoothies to enhance the protein content, but that’s a personal preference.

Texture and Consistency

Another important difference between smoothies and shakes is the texture and consistency. Smoothies are thicker and quite heavy on the stomach. Since they have less liquid added, the fruits and vegetables pulse together to form a “puree”.

Shakes, on the other hand, have a very liquid consistency, which is easy to drink and gulp down. This is because the liquid to the solid ratio in shakes is quite high.


In terms of appearance, smoothies have a more vibrant and dark color due to the ingredients. Shakes generally have a pale white, beige color, or other pastel colors, depending on the ingredients added.

The color also depends on the composition and toppings. If the shake has strawberries, the color will be light pink with the milk added to it. The smoothies generally take on the color of the fruit or veggie added.

Are Smoothies Healthier Than Shakes?

A shake and smoothie’s health and nutritional quotient depend on the ingredients. It will be a healthy option to add nutritious ingredients to your shakes instead of adding different varieties of cream, sugar, etc.

But, on a general scale, smoothies are considered a “healthier” option since they contain fruits and vegetables. A few smoothie recipes even call for protein powder, which elevates the nutrient value.

So, whether or not your drink is healthy depends on the ingredients you add. It is a personal preference at the end of the day.

Smoothie vs. Shake: Which One Is Better?

The choice between which is better depends on your end goal. If you are looking for a good pre-workout drink, smoothies are better.

However, shakes are a better choice if you are looking for a post-workout drink. So, which one you pick as your favorite depends on the purpose you are drinking it for and the kind of ingredients you are adding.

Generally, a shake with unhealthy ingredients might not be a better option health-wise but could be a better option taste-wise. Similarly, a smoothie with lots of green might not taste the best, but it’s good for you.

What Is the Difference Between a Smoothie and Shake?

The main distinguishing factor between a smoothie and a shake is the list of ingredients and nutritional value.

Smoothies have a high carb and low-protein content (if protein powder isn’t added). Shakes have a high carb and high protein content due to the dairy products and fresh ingredients.

Even the texture of these two drinks has a stark difference. Smoothies are thicker and denser than shakes, which are generally liquid and milk-based.


Keeping aside the similarities and differences, we can’t deny that both smoothies and shakes taste delectable. They are nutritious and filling in their way. What we’d recommend is choosing fresh ingredients for both of these drinks. And, if you want to fortify them with some extra protein, there are protein powder supplements to the rescue. 

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