How Juicing Could Be Ruining Your Diet (and What to Do About It)

carrot juice

Carrot juice | iStock.com

It’s all the rage and everywhere you look — on street corners, the mall, or on your TV, you’ll find that juicing has become one of the most hip and popular ways to drink your fruits and vegetables. Juicing can be great to ensure you’re getting that vitamin boost even if you’re on the go or not a huge fan of eating certain veggies on their own, but even the healthiest of juices come with their drawbacks. While using juice to cleanse or fast certainly seems appealing, you’ll want to weigh your options the next time you’re faced with the choice between a juice or fruits and veggies in their whole form.

When taking a look at juicing, this simple idea of processing your fruits and veggies into an easy and drinkable treat sounds like the perfect solution for those who have trouble eating the recommended daily amount. The process of juicing is easy — if you have the proper equipment and a healthy amount of produce (particularly produce that holds quite a bit of water so that you can yield more juice), then creating a delicious juice is within your grasp. And, whether you go to a juice bar or juice yourself, you can customize exactly what you want in your juice, and this can include protein powders if you’re looking for a snack that’s a little more substantial.

WebMD recommends the average adult eat about two whole fruits and three to four vegetables a day, and for those with a busy schedule, eating this many fruits and veggies may seem like a daunting task. This could be even tougher for those who don’t like specific vegetables, as their vitamin intake will be limited to what foods they find tastiest, and getting a variety of vitamins and minerals requires the consumption of a multitude of colorful foods. This is where juicing can come in handy — eating leafy greens like kale and spinach may not be your idea of a tasty and filling meal, but combining these greens with apples and carrots can make for a delicious juice. Without the taste of the fruits to disguise the taste of some of your veggies, you may not consume these veggies any other way.

orange juice

Orange juice | iStock.com

While there’s much debate about whether juicing regularly should really be a staple in your diet, juicing should definitely be used as a meal enhancer instead of a meal replacer. Your daily meals require fiber, protein, and fats to keep you satisfied, and juicing is missing all of these components. The Telegraph explains you should aim to juice low-sugar fruits and raw, cold vegetables to get the most benefits and a fantastic antioxidant boost from your juice. Use ginger, lemon, kale, and pears as the key components of your juices for a variety of vitamins and minerals without causing your blood-sugar levels to spike.

You may find that there’s a perfect time and place in your schedule for you to juice some produce and get that extra vitamin boost, but you may want to think twice about what exactly you’re putting in your juicer. Ben Greenfield Fitness suggests that when most people juice, they add in far too many fruits into their juices and not nearly enough low-sugar veggies. When you juice produce, the fiber is stripped and the sugars that are left become super concentrated — this puts multiple servings of fruit and vegetables into an easily drinkable amount. You wouldn’t normally sit and eat 6 apples, but when you see how little juice comes from one apple, you could easily sit and drink the amount of juice that six apples yields.

Reach for whole fruit

Reach for whole fruit | iStock.com

Consuming solid food takes a lot more effort from your digestive system than consuming liquids. For those who are solely drinking juice and expecting this dietary change to slim down their waistline, they may be sabotaging their efforts due to this fact. The sugars from juice are absorbed very quickly, causing blood fructose levels to spike at intense rates. A fructose spike, which often is caused from eating natural sugars from fruit, is different than a glucose spike, which is caused from eating carbohydrates. Your whole body utilizes glucose for energy, meaning that for every 120 calories of glucose, only 1 calorie is stored as fat. On the contrary, for every 120 calories of fructose, 40 calories are stored as fat. While drinking juice after an intense workout may be a great way to restore blood fructose levels, you may want to skip it otherwise.

You also burn quite a few calories — up to 200, in fact — during the digestion process. Because you aren’t actively chewing and processing juice, you’re losing an opportunity to burn an extra couple hundred calories naturally.

Also, if you’re an athlete who depends on proteins, fats, and carbs to get through your workout and perform to your best ability, then you should really consider skipping the juice before a workout. Jennifer Nelson, director of clinical dietetics and nutrition at the Mayo Clinic, told CNN foods in their liquid form will not leave you nearly as fulfilled, thus you’ll consume more calories that are mostly sugar and nothing else. Protein helps build muscle, and a diet lacking in protein can cause muscle breakdown and fatigue during exercise, as well as metabolic slowdown. And, consuming healthy fat is essential for sustaining energy throughout the day, so replacing a typical lunch with juice is likely to leave you feeling tired.

protein powder

Protein powder | iStock.com

While juicing can seem like it’s more trouble than it’s worth, there is good news — you can make a nutritious drink by adding in other supplements and ingredients that will provide you with that fat and protein you’re missing. Choose protein powders and powdered amino acids to add to your juices to help maintain and build muscle mass, and you can even choose to blend in healthy fats like avocado to make your juice a heartier beverage that will provide you with lasting energy. Just Juice suggests adding in apple cider vinegar to stimulate blood circulation, or wheat germ for a protein and fiber boost. You can also try mixing in some hemp seed or hemp seed oil, as this product is also extremely high in protein and full of essential fatty acids.

The next time you’re ready to reach for some fresh juice, consider what other ingredients you can add to make your drink the healthiest it can be. Or, ditch the juice altogether, and reach for the fresh fruits and veggies instead.

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