What is the Difference Between a Smoothie and a Shake?


When it comes to health drinks, two that frequently come into the conversation are smoothies and shakes.

Both of these drinks can be healthy, and both can assist with your fitness goals, but what exactly is the difference between a milkshake and smoothie?

There are many differences between smoothies and shakes revolving around consistency, flavor, and ingredients. Yet the biggest difference is in the macronutrients: smoothies provide carbs while shakes provide protein. 

If you’re interested in the protein shake vs smoothie debate and what either could add to your current diet – or even both – then you’ll want to know what you can gain from each.

Timing your consumption of smoothies and shakes is key if you want to get the most out of them, with regards to the health benefits they offer.

There are other factors to consider, too, such as the consistency and ingredients of the two drink types. Since if you’re going to add them into your diet, you need to know if you can get hold of the ingredients and whether or not you can stomach them.

So without further ado, let’s crack on and dive into the various differences between smoothies and shakes.

Taste and Texture

First, let’s take a look at the taste and texture that you can expect from both smoothies and shakes.

You might be wondering why texture or consistency even matters, and the answer is because many people struggle with thick or pulpy drinks.

With that in mind, let’s start by looking at smoothies:


For better or worse, smoothies are thick drinks that will often have fruit pulp floating around in them.

This can be off putting for some people, so it’s definitely a factor to consider if you want to start drinking them. You can reduce the thickness by blending the ingredients with a powerful blender at a high setting, but ultimately there’s only so much you can do.

The reason why smoothies are so thick is because you are taking the raw fruit and blending it down with all of the pulp still intact. If you wanted the juice from the fruit alone and nothing else, then you would just have a fruit juice.

To make fruit juice, it requires a separate appliance – the juicer.

If you only have a blender though you’re stuck with making smoothies.

As far as taste goes, there’s a reason why there are so many juice bars selling smoothies these days. Health-conscious people can’t get enough of the fruity drinks, and many people enjoy adding vegetables to their smoothies too for something a little different.


Shakes are much simpler when it comes to texture, as they will typically be thicker than juice but won’t have the pulp of smoothies.

It’s still of course possible to have bits of fruit in a shake, should you wish to add fruit, but it won’t make up the majority of the drink.

The thickness of shakes comes from the addition of milk, ice cream, or yogurt.

Shakes are delicious, there’s no denying it.

Though when you add protein powder to them to make them more worthy as a post-workout treat, this can sometimes affect the taste – either positively or negatively.

Health Benefits

Both smoothies and shakes can be good for you, but it all depends on what your health and fitness goals are.

In the smoothie vs shake stakes, there are a few factors to consider.

For example, you want to make sure you time your consumption of them well if you are to make the most of them.

For example, you might benefit more from drinking the carb-heavy smoothie pre-workout for an energy boost whereas the protein-laden shake is best for post-workout muscle recovery.


The most compelling reason to down a smoothie is for all the vitamins and minerals you get from the fruits and/or vegetables you put in it.

For many of us, we’d love to increase our fruit and vegetable intake but we don’t want to consume bowls and bowls of berries and broccoli to achieve that goal. That’s why smoothies are so popular, because they provide a way of getting more fruits and vegetables in your diet quickly and easily.

If you want the antioxidant benefits from blueberries, simply throw a handful of them in your smoothies. 

Fancy a hit of potassium? Chop up a banana and toss it in.

At this point, you might be wondering if smoothies have ice cream in them, and the answer is no. Usually, you don’t have any dairy in a smoothie.

Smoothies also provide a very useful macronutrient for working out: carbohydrates.

Since fruits and vegetables are high in carbs, your average smoothie can be a great pre-workout energy booster.


If you’re looking for a fruit shake definition, it’s basically just a milkshake that includes fruit – makes sense, right?

Shakes aren’t necessarily as healthy as smoothies, since you get a lot of high-fat dairy from ice cream or yogurt.

Though if you’re using milk, then they aren’t too bad at all.

It also depends on what you add to the shake, since if you add nut butters and protein powder you increase the fat or protein content of the drink.

Generally speaking, unless it’s a fat-loss brand shake, shakes aren’t recommended for weight loss. They’re usually best for building muscle.

That’s because they have a lot of protein, which is the building block for muscle. A post-workout shake is the drink of choice for many aspiring bodybuilders and weightifters for this reason.

Which Should you Choose?

So, what’s it going to be out of shake vs smoothies?

Both smoothies and shakes have their uses, so it shouldn’t necessarily be a question of which you choose but rather when you choose to consume them.

If your goal is to build muscle and exercise regularly, then we recommend that you fit both into your diet. As already mentioned, a well-timed pre-workout smoothie can give you an energy boost to see you through your workout while a protein-heavy shake can help speed up muscle recovery after a workout.

There are of course other factors to consider, but for the most part both drinks bring a lot to the table and can help you achieve your health and fitness goals when used correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions About Smoothies and Shakes

What’s the difference between a smoothie and a shake?

A smoothie is a concoction of all kinds of fruits and fruit juices, without the addition of any dairy products such as yogurt, ice cream, and milk.

A shake on the other hand will contain one of either milk, yogurt, or ice cream, as well as potentially a fruit flavor or a something sweet like chocolate.

It’s more common to use a shake as a base for adding protein to, whereas a smoothie is more of a health drink to help you get your five a day.

Are smoothies healthier than shakes?

It all depends on what you’re looking to gain from drinking the smoothie or shake.

Smoothies will of course contain a variety of fruit, which will help you get your fix of five a day and can be a good source of carbs pre or post-workout.

Shakes on the other hand will have the powerful protein kick that fitness enthusiasts crave after a heavy workout, especially when you throw in some protein powder.

Is it better to drink a smoothie or eat the fruit?

Generally speaking, it’s better from a healthy perspective to eat the fruit but much more convenient to drink a smoothie.

You might say to yourself that it only makes sense, then, to eat the fruit to get all the dietary fiber and goodness from it.

This is fine, but many people choose smoothies over the raw fruit because they know that they’re a good way to consume a lot of fruit in a short amount of time. So a smoothie can actually be more healthy in some ways since it makes it easier to commit to consuming fruit.

A Final Word From Energetic Lifestyle

Both smoothies and shakes earn their place as fantastic pre and post-workout drinks, but they offer vastly different health benefits.

While the smoothie provides a healthy serving of carbs to give you pre-workout energy, the shake can deliver protein to the muscles after a workout to help speed up the recovery process.

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Article by:

Energetic Lifestyle Team

Our detailed review has been contributed to by multiple members of the Energetic Lifestyle Review Team to ensure the best research and highest standard of quality. Have a good or a bad experience with one of the products? Please let us know, we love the feedback!

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