Most people think that working out hardcore, running long distances, or doing activities that will make you sweat are what it takes to become fit and healthy. While these physically exerting activities play a role in well-being, another important factor is diet.

Most nutritionists and gym trainers say that working out is just 20% when it comes to reaching your fitness goal. They say that 80% of being fit and healthy will rely on diet since this is what will power up your body for whatever activity is ahead of you. This is the reason why hundreds, if not thousands, of eating plans have become popular such as Protein Diets, Ketogenic Diet, Intermittent Fasting, Liquid Diet, Calisthenics Diet, Juicing, and many more.

In many of these diets, two items that are commonly incorporated are shakes and smoothies. Of course, you probably know that both are icy cold concoctions that will help you quench your thirst before, during, or after a workout.

They are also a meal or a snack alternative that offers benefits such as weight loss or muscle gain. While most people who are into fitness have taken them before, many are still confused about what the differences between these two drinks are.

To better understand the similarities and differences, let’s compare these two beverages side by side.

Tale of the Tape: Smoothies VS Shakes


What’s in a name?

The term “smoothie” comes from the smooth texture of the concoction after all the fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients are blended. The texture somehow resembles a sorbet.

Shakes are associated with the old-time favorite “milkshake.”  But now, shakes can be made without milk. The most prevalent version in the fitness world are protein shakes made with protein powder.

The Ingredients


Smoothies are made out of a variety of fresh ingredients like fruits and vegetables. People who are following clean diets such as the Calisthenics Diet prepare them to increase their intake of fresh produce.  Nowadays, many people following this diet also include protein powders in their smoothies to get that added boost. Some even opt to add ingredients such as flaxseeds, chia, and wheatgrass.

Shakes, on the other hand, are made-out of dairy or other protein-based ingredients like protein powder. Most protein shake powders are already flavored. However, there are still people who prepare it with the milk of their choice like cow’s milk, almond milk, or soy milk; then they add flavoring ingredients such as chocolates, peanut butter, caramel, and fruits. But even with the added ingredient or flavor, the dominant ingredient is still the dairy or protein powder.

The Preparation

While blending smoothie ingredients only requires a press of a button, the challenge is actually having the fresh ingredients available every time. People who live busy lifestyles do not always have the time to actually buy the ingredients, clean, and prep them for use. Of course, you can always get one from a smoothie shop, but unless you know the shop owner personally, you’re not really sure if you’re getting fresh ingredients in your smoothie.

Shakes are much easier to prepare than smoothies. All you need is your protein powder, water, and a shaker bottle. You don’t need a blender or electricity to prepare one. This makes it convenient, especially if you’re on the go. This is not possible with smoothies and fresh ingredients.

The Taste

Because smoothies are made with fresh produce, it follows that they have a fresh taste to them as well. People who like sweeter drinks can go with fruit-filled smoothies. Others love the taste of the “green smoothie,” mainly made with vegetables. Of course, most fruit smoothies taste sweeter or more palatable than one made out of kale, but the sugar content on a fruit smoothie will also be higher.

Shakes typically have that old-fashioned milkshake taste and consistency. The most popular flavors of protein shake powders are the same as milkshake flavors too: chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry!

The Nutrients


Smoothies are high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but it still really depends on what you’re putting in your blend. If you’re putting more fruits with higher sugar content like mango, banana or pineapple, although you’re getting lots of nutrients, the carbohydrate content will be higher. However, if your main ingredients are vegetables like cucumber, kale, spinach, and celery, then the sugar content will be low or almost non-existent. You will usually get more benefit when choosing vegetable-based smoothies than one made with more fruits.

Most traditional shakes pack a lot of protein and fats, but now, most protein powders are manufactured without sugar and fat. Unlike smoothies, you’re not getting the bountiful amount of other nutrients with most protein shakes unless the one you’re having is specially fortified with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Recommended time of consumption and benefits

Smoothies are best consumed as a pre-workout snack since they are lighter in the stomach and can burn faster. The carbohydrates you get from smoothies turn into sugar, which gives you that needed energy during your workout.

Shakes are rich in protein, which means they are best consumed as a post-workout snack because protein turns into amino acids used to rebuild muscle fibers after a workout. Shakes can also give you that fuller feeling that will keep you running throughout the day.

The Verdict

Smoothies and shakes play a different role in your diet. What you choose depends on what your fitness goals are and your personal preference.

If you like a fresh burst in your drink and want to incorporate more fresh produce in your diet, go for smoothies. If your main goal, on the other hand, is to ramp up your protein intake (or you cannot simply bear the taste of a smoothie), then choosing a shake may be better for you.