The energy boost! The extra skin glow! The system reset! If you know anything about juicing, you're sure to have heard these terms thrown in the mix. But is juicing all it's cracked up to be? Yes AND no! Read on to find out what you should know before heading to your local juice bar.
1) Moderation is key.
Before I elaborate on this point I want you to do something:
First, think about how easy it is to drink a 16 oz. glass of apple juice.
Pretty easy huh?
Now think about how easy it would be to eat* the 2 POUNDS of apples it would take to make that 16 oz. glass of apple juice. Yikes, not so easy.
In that 16oz glass of apple juice there are 352 calories and 41 GRAMS OF SUGAR. That's the same amount of sugar in a can of Cherry Coke!
If you think that the fact that it is "natural" sugar makes any difference, YOU’RE WRONG.
Unfortunately, our bodies do not have a filter that distinguishes between the sugars in fruit or sugars in juice and thus, once that fruit juice is consumed, your pancreas reacts and your blood glucose receptors respond in the exact same way they would as if you had of finished a can of Cherry Coke.
While you do get the benefits of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants long with that natural sugar in fruit, the prolonged intake of juice over an extended amount of time (ie. juice cleanses) can leave your blood glucose/ insulin system seriously OUT OF WHACK.
My recommendation is to limit your enjoyment of fruit-based juices to <12 oz per day and combine with other healthy foods to get balanced nutrition. Do not rely on juices to give you all the nutrients you need, which brings me to my second “Need to know…”
2) Juicing alone does not provide balanced nutrition.
Solely juicing for days on end will NOT provide your body with the nutrients it needs to optimally perform mentally and physically throughout the day. While, most juices are high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals (and sugar), they are lacking in protein, essential fatty acids and shockingly, FIBER! In addition, vitamin D, calcium, and iron may also be lacking.
Most of the juicing machines used in commercial settings - for example, your local juice bar - extract only the juice from the produce to keep the mouth-feel of the drink pleasant and through that process remove most of the fiber and pulp. Not to rain even more on your fiber parade, but if the fiber is removed that means the polyphenol phytonutrients that are attached to that fiber also get tossed away.
Now if you frequent a juicing establishment that utilizes a vitamix-like blender, then you’re on the safer side as the pulp and fiber will be retained in the contents. High-powered blenders can emulsify, or reduce, whole fruits and vegetables to a smoother texture and retain the fiber. Try adding protein powder, chia seeds, flax meal, or 0% Greek yogurt.
In the end, if you want a balanced diet, then you need to enjoy your juices or blended beverages with other whole, nutrient dense foods.
3) Not all juices are created equal.
Become as label reader. You will be astonished by the MASSIVE amount of unhealthy “Healthy juices” out there available on the marketing prey on the uninformed. As I’ve already discussed, too much fruit or fruit concentrate can increase the sugar level, and then a new fun fact, heating, processing and packaging can lessen nutritional value as well.
So, the next time you’re at the store and you go to purchase a pre-packaged juice, once you get over the sticker shock of $3.99-$5.99 per bottle, flip it around and look at the nutrition label.
-Organic Raw Cold- Pressed, High Pressure Processed, or Fresh Raw Organic
-All real ingredients
-No sugar added
- < 10 grams sugar per serving
1-00% Organic Not From Concentrate, Organic (from concentrate or with additives)
- >20 grams sugar per serving
In the end, what it all comes down to is:
Yes, juicing can deliver a significant amount of sugar to your system at one time so you need to moderate consumption.
No, juicing will not provide your body all of the essential nutrients it needs so you’ll have to supplement with real, healthy, natural foods.
All in all, juicing can be a great way to introduce new fruits and vegetables and to get the daily recommended intake of fruits and vegetables. Just make sure you read the label and know what you're chugging down!