I was asked this question 3 three times last week in more or less the same form:
“Kayla, I have some weight to lose and I was thinking about juicing, you know, drinking lots of fresh fruits and veggies all day. What do you think of that? Is it safe and effective?”
It’s easy to see the benefits of juicing.
Most of our diets are too high in fat and lacking in necessary nutrients.
We don’t consume enough fruits and vegetables. Some proponents claim the antioxidant vitamins, chlorophyll and enzymes, as well as the water content of fresh fruit and vegetable juices help keep us strong, healthy and more resistant to disease.
If you don’t enjoy eating fruits or vegetables, juicing can make eating them more pleasant.
When sweetened with beets or apples or bananas and oranges, you hardly notice the bitterness of vegetables such as collard greens and kale.
You can also get creative with your combinations. It can also be convenient – you can have it on the go, in your car or at your desk.
It’s also an excellent way to boost your fluid levels since fruits and veggies are water-rich and it is a far better choice for hydration than coffee or soft drinks.
Fresh juices also don’t contain any preservatives or chemicals like factory processed drinks can. It can be good for those who have difficulties digesting fiber to get their nutrients.
There are some drawbacks however.
Many fruits are high on the glycemic index, meaning they contain a lot of sugar and the impact on your bloodstream is higher than if you had consumed the whole fruit with all of its fiber, which can slow down the impact of those sugars.
When the body has to cope with an high increase of blood sugar, the pancreas has to release insulin. The yo-yo effect it has on your system can give you spikes of energy followed by feelings of sluggishness and lethargy.
It can also make you store fat.
Further, for diabetics and those who need to limit their sugar intake, its not always the best choice.
Fruit juices can pack a lot of calories.
Juicing can take out the fiber of the fruit and vegetables and we need that fiber, not just to slow down the absorption of the sugar, but for aiding the absorption of nutrients, for the health of our colon (fiber keeps us regular and reduces the risk of colon cancer). Fiber helps you feel fuller longer too.
Some vegetables are actually better for you when cooked!
It can also be time consuming and expensive. Juice tastes best freshly made. It loses some of its nutritional value as it oxidizes in the fridge and can taste less appetizing. Juices are best consumed within a day to keep all the enzymes. Not everyone has time to do all the cutting and peeling daily. Plus, juicers can cost $200+ and you need a lot of fruits and veggies to produce a lot of juice.
Cleaning out that juicer is also time-consuming. (Of course you could purchase juices at the store and give up some of the nutritional value for the convenience.)
What about protein?? You need to consume certain number of grams of protein per day and I’m pretty sure if you are consuming fruit and vegetable juices for every meal you won’t get it. (To get the number of grams of protein your body needs, take your weight in kg and multiply that by .8 to get the number of grams of protein you must consume daily).
So are you for it or against it Kayla?
Well, I’m for it and against it.
If you are struggling with your weight, the sugar calories in all the fruit juices might not help you out. If you want to have a cup of juice and weight is your concern, make it a cup of juice that’s mostly veggies – or at a minimum, include some veggies you wouldn’t otherwise eat if they weren’t covered in fruit juice. And make it a snack, not every
meal for the whole day or you will be missing out on important protein and fiber and necessary fats.
Another option is to use a blender – so you get the fiber as well as the juice..and add in some Greek yogurt for protein, or a protein powder, to make it a meal.
Consume the same day or freeze for maximum freshness.
Overall juicing, can be a good thing but please use the rule of moderation and eat real food, not just juice all day long for every meal and consult with your doctor or Registered Dietitian for specific meal plans — (I work with two Registered Dietitians whom I trust and would be happy to refer you).
Remember, do not drop your calories below 1200 for women and 1400 for men or you run the risk of metabolizing your own muscle tissue for fuel. While you will lose weight at these dangerously low calorie levels, you will be slowing down your metabolism and when you do finally eat normally, you will pack on weight that much more readily and likely have more difficulty getting it off.
Eating healthy is important, but don’t delude yourself into thinking you can skip your workouts because you had some juice. You need a sensible diet and exercise for sustained weight loss.