Is juicing healthy? Yes. Should you be thinking of adding juices to your life? Perhaps. Can juicing help you to lose weight? It may in the short-term but it’s not a great way to go.
One of the best things about juicing is it allows you to take advantage of the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables. Juicing is also a good way to get extra antioxidants into your body. There are lots of reasons you may want to do it, but weight loss is not one of them.
The juicing trend has been with us for a long time. Dr. Norman Walker invented the first juicing machine during the 1930s, but juicing was popular long before then.
The Dead Sea Scrolls show people were juicing at least as far back as 150 BC. They had to use a mashing technique to do it but juicing is juicing. When you can sip it instead of chewing it, what you’ve got is a juice.
Juicing is possibly more popular now than it has ever been. It’s certainly easier but, health benefits aside, juicing for weight loss is a very controversial practice.
What Is Juicing?
Juicing describes any process that’s performed specifically to extract juices from fruits and vegetables and separate it from the solids. These days, if you do it at home you have the option of using an electric juicer.
With citrus fruits, you could even do it by hand. It’s just a case of splitting the fruit and giving it a squeeze, but using an old-type orange squeezer would remove a lot of the work.
Commercial juice manufacturers use large custom-built pressing machines that utilize a very efficient form of cold pressing. But, once again, juicing is juicing. It doesn’t matter how you come by it, all juice is good.
The fruit and vegetable juices you obtain from juicing don’t contain any seeds, pulp or skin. It’s very nutritious and it’s rich in antioxidants. However, it doesn’t provide the dietary fiber you’d get by eating fruit and vegetables.
Dietary fiber is important so don’t go thinking juicing is a good substitute for eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
Why Do People Do It?
Different people are attracted to juicing for different reasons. A lot of people do it because they believe drinking fruit and vegetable juices is healthy. Some people do it just because they enjoy the taste. Then there are those who believe juicing is a good way to lose weight.
The people who drink juice as a way to get slim often use it as a detox method. There is no scientific proof that swapping solid food for juice will provide a detox, but people do it anyway.
There are some plants that are associated with detox benefits, but you don’t have to reduce them to juice to obtain the benefits.
It’s also important to remember the human body is designed to take what it needs from solid food. That’s the natural way of things. So although drinking juice has its merits it should never be seen as a substitute for a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Some interesting names we have come across for juices are:
- Deep Love Cleanse
- Dragon’s Breathe
- Green Love
- Young Love
- Coconut Mylk
Reasons to Juice
The best way to use juice is to incorporate it into your diet instead of trying to use it as a diet. When done correctly, there’s a lot to be said for drinking the right juices at the right time.
For instance, certain juices can function well as a pre-workout drink. By providing the body with extra B Vitamins and other nutrients that support energy metabolism.
Juices that contain beetroot may be a particularly good pre-workout option. The high nitrate content opens the blood vessels making it easier for the heart to pump extra nutrients and oxygen to those hard-working muscles.
Such juices can also make good breakfast drinks that provide you with a good mix of nutrients and set you up for the day.
Some juices also function well as a post-workout drink. By providing the right balance of nutrients they can help the muscles to heal faster and grow.
What’s In the Juice, Bruce?
Juice recipes normally contain extracts taken from fruits, vegetables, or both. It’s not uncommon for them to contain herbs or spices, such as ginger and turmeric, as well.
There can be a lot to be said for making such additions. For instance, ginger helps with digestion. Some research suggests it may also help lower cholesterol. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10801908)
Turmeric provides a compound called curcumin that boosts antioxidant capacity and reduces inflammation. It’s been linked to many health benefits and may even function as a natural anti-depressant.
However, in reality, if you are going to add turmeric to your juices you need to add some black pepper too. Without it, your body will have difficulty absorbing the curcumin and you may see little or no benefit at all.
Other good ingredients to spice up your juice include:
- Cayenne pepper: Research shows cayenne boosts the metabolism and reduces hunger. (https://greatist.com/health/burn-fat-and-control-appetite-cayenne-pepper)
- Cinnamon: This versatile spice has been linked to many health benefits and may provide both an antibacterial and an antifungal action. (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-cinnamon#section9)
- Sage: Apart from being the name of a plant “sage” is also a word used to describe someone who is very wise. That’s very appropriate because research suggests sage may boost cognitive function. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12895685)
Okay, there’s not really a way to juice herbs and spices but there is no reason why you should not add them to your juices. They are safe, natural, and have benefits to offer.
Juice Diets for Weight Loss
There are several different diets juicing enthusiasts use for weight loss. The most popular one is probably a juice fast.
People who do juice fasts use their juices in a manner that’s similar to the way other people use meal replacement shakes. Every meal is replaced with fruit and vegetable juices. It’s an extreme way to try and lose weight and is often referred to as a dieting fad.
Although some people only do juice fasts for a few days, there are others who juice fast for weeks at a time.
In their favor, most juice diets are extremely low in calories. They also provide a lot of nutrients. However, juice diets are unlikely to provide all the nutrients necessary for good health.
In the case of Vitamin B12, there will be none at all because this important water-soluble vitamin is not present in plants.
Juice Fast Vs Meal Replacement Shake
There’s a big difference between doing a juice fast and using meal replacement shakes. The shakes are designed to provide all the nutrients the body needs. They also provide dietary fiber. So, on a nutritional level, it could be argued they are superior.
However, the biggest difference of all is the way in which the shakes are used. They are only intended to replace one or two meals per day. One or two healthy, low-calorie meals are allowed. It does not involve a 100% liquid diet.
Do Juice Fasts Work?
There is no research that proves juice fasts work, but many people who’ve done them claim that they do. In all probability, there is a good chance that they will. Any type of diet will work if it fails to provide the body with all the calories it needs. When the body lacks calories it starts burning fat.
Just because something may help you to lose weight does not mean it’s wise to do it. Trying to live solely on juice is a crazy idea.
Anyone thinking of using juicing as a way to lose weight would be better off using their juice to replace no more than two meals per day. When used alongside a sensible diet, it could work for weight loss while also presenting fewer risks to the health.
Replacing your meal with a smoothie instead of a juice may be a better idea. Smoothies provide the whole fruit and vegetable, including the fiber. This makes them thicker and more filling and more capable of suppressing hunger.
The other thing to remember is, it’s still possible to live on juice and actually gain weight. Success or failure will largely be determined by the type and quantity of the juice.
Although many vegetables, such as spinach and kale, are low in calories, a lot of fruits are not. If you juice the wrong fruits or simply consume too much juice per day your dreams of weight loss could blow up in your face.
Juicing for Weight Loss: The Negative Aspects You Need to Know
If you are using the right juices a juice fast could significantly lower the amount of calories you get per day. You may get it down to less than 1000 calories per day. Women need around 2,000 calories per day. Men need about 500 calories more, so a juice fast can result in a serious calorie depletion.
The Results May Not Last
Such a low calorie intake could provide rapid weight loss. That does not mean any weight that is lost will stay off. In all probability, some or all of it will return pretty fast when you stop juicing and start eating again instead.
A sensible weight loss plan helps you to lose weight over a period of time. During that time you become used to eating less and following a more healthy lifestyle. The dieting period is not just about burning fat, it’s about re-educating yourself.
A sensible weight loss plan arms you with the tools you need to make sure the weight you lose stays off. Fad diets and quick-fix solutions like just fasts do not.
There’s Going to Be a Huge Problem with Hunger
Hunger is going to be a big problem if you do a juice fast. Liquid does not have the same stomach-filling ability as food. For one thing, it passes through the body a lot faster. It’s not going to hang around for any length of time.
Think of how many times you urinate a day. Now try and remember the last time you needed to poop. Do you even need to do it every day?
For the purposes of one study, 40 adults were fed 300 calories. In all cases, the calories came from apples. However, some of the volunteers were given solid apple, others got either apple juice or apple sauce.
The volunteers who had the apple juice subsequently felt greater hunger than the one who got the solid or semi-solid forms. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19248858)
There’s a reason why solid food takes longer to process and fills the stomach better. It’s because it provides fiber and protein.
Fiber slows down gastric emptying. Juicing removes removes all the fiber. Protein influences the appetite hormones that tell the brain the stomach is full. It also increases thermogenesis. Let’s not forget some people choose to lose weight by eating a high-protein diet.
A Juice Fast May Retard Your Metabolism.
Yes, believe it or not, Juicing for weight loss can ruin your metabolism.
For one thing, living on juices can reduce muscle mass by starving the body of protein. Muscles are metabolically active. It takes calories to sustain them. By causing loss of muscle tissue, a juice fast can lower your resting energy expenditure.
The damage that is caused will remain long after the fast and regaining the lost muscle may take quite a long time.
The other problem with juice fasts is they cause your body to slip into starvation mode. When your body senses such an extreme lack of calories, it tries to preserve its stores and the best way to do this is to slow the metabolism.
Juicing for Weight Loss May Not Be Good For Your Health
Juicing offers health benefits. Taking a juice-based diet to extremes does not.
Your body needs fiber and juice will not provide it. This increases the risk of bowel disease and constipation.
Lack of fiber can also throw gut bacteria levels out of balance. Probiotic bacteria is the good kind. You need it. Probiotic bacteria is beneficial for the health.
Probiotic bacteria feeds on a special type of fiber. You may have heard of it. It’s called prebiotic fiber. Juices don’t supply it. That means you can end up with less good bacteria living in your gut. This allows bad bacteria levels to build up and, of course, has a negative influence on the health.
Other problems related to an entirely juice-based diet can include:
- Poor immune system
Juicing for Weight Loss: Good or Bad?
There’s nothing wrong with juicing, but its best to see the juice like a health supplement. That means incorporating it into your diet instead of trying to live on it.
If you were to replace one meal a day with juice and have two healthy, low-calorie meals each day as well, it could help you to lose weight. The problem is you may feel hungry so a healthy, green smoothie would likely work better. It would provide fiber to help fill your stomach.
There are a lot of ways to lose weight. It’s never necessary to take things to extremes or, possibly, endanger your health.
Eating a sensible diet and getting plenty of exercise is a good first step. There are also good supplements available that can reduce hunger and help you burn extra fat.
In the end, it’s not the route that matters. The important thing is that, when you arrive at your destination, you do so in good shape. With that in mind, juicing for weight loss may not be the best way to go.