Weight Loss Wednesday: Juice Abuse

Juice. From the Juice Cleanse to the Juice Diet, consuming fruits, and vegetables in the form of juices and smoothies has gained popularity over the last few years and it’s not hard to see why. For the chronically busy, slurping down a juice or smoothie is a whole lot quicker than eating the raw ingredients themselves. For the career “veggiephobe”, throwing veggies in a juicer helps you easily ignore the fact that you’re consuming a food you don’t like (or think you don’t like, anyway).  For the image conscious, carrying around a little brightly-colored, photogenic little bottle of designer juice is like a status symbol that says, “Not only do I care about my health, I do it in style”. 

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But is juicing really the way to health, beauty and weight loss? Pro-juicers will tell you “yes”- and that juicing makes the vitamins and minerals in vegetables and fruit easier to absorb, as the body doesn’t have to worry about breaking down the fiber.  However, there is no scientific evidence that drinking the juice extracted from a fruit or vegetable is healthier than eating the whole fruit or vegetable itself.  In fact, it might be quite the opposite.

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Both fruits and veggies are naturally high in both types of fiber that your body needs, both soluble (as in can mix with water and be digested) and insoluble (fibrous, does not digest in water alone, must be fermented in the large intestine). However, when turned into juice, most of the insoluble fiber is lost. This, in turn, means that when you drink juice, you are consuming the same amount of calories and sugar as you would from whole fruits/ veggies (because remember kids, fruit has sugar in it), but you will feel less full than you would if you were to eat the whole ingredients of the juice. This lack of fiber can lead to weight gain with time, as less fiber equals less fullness, which in turn means you’ll probably be motivated to eat sooner after completing your juice or shake.

My advice? Make friends with fruits and veggies in their normal, solid form. Try them in different combinations and prepare them in different ways. The less you do to them, the better they are for you. There are an infinite number of ways to enjoy almost any fruit or vegetable. Veggies are more than just fodder for salads and stir fry and fruit can do wonderful things. For example, you can freeze raw, ripe melons or bananas and then blend them into stuff that resembles ice cream and sorbet- without all the sugar! If you still aren’t ready to make veg your friend, a good green drink can be a good way to include veggies in your diet that you wouldn’t normally eat. Pro tip: try blending your veggies instead of turning them into juice. You’ll retain more fiber and feel fuller than you would on juice.