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The 4 Hidden Traps of Juicing For Weight Loss

December 17, 2011     Posted in Nutrition by Fabian Colussi     29 Comments

Juicing for weight loss may sound like a very fresh, healthy and delicious way to get great results, but in reality, it can actually cause you more problems than you might realize.

Surprised?

That’s totally understandable. After all, fruits and vegetables are lovely, natural foods, filled with healthy vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. And they’re a very important part of a healthy diet – especially vegetables.

So then, how can juicing for weight loss be such a bad thing?

Well, it doesn’t need to be, as long as you’re aware of the potential pitfalls (which actually aren’t that well understood by many) and you go about it in the right way. Otherwise, you could find yourself gaining weight rather than losing it.

Motivations Behind Juicing For Weight Loss

People can have a variety of different motivations when they start juicing for weight loss, for example:

  • They want something healthy and nutritious to drink to replace their usual sugar-filled, fattening carbonated drinks.

Juicing For Weight Loss

  • They don’t like the idea of having to drink plain, boring old water all the time.
  • They’re not big fans of eating vegetables and they want an easier, less painful way of getting their daily servings.
  • They simply want to add some healthy, nutritious food to their diet, in the form of a convenient beverage.

The fact is however, some of these are great ideas, but some aren’t as good as they might seem.

Because fruits and vegetables are good for us, everyone naturally assumes that juices are always great as well. But as you’ll see, this isn’t always the case.

Hidden Trap #1 of Juicing For Weight Loss

Juices might be nutritious and healthy, but they still contain calories.

People often tend to forget this point. You need to consider that the calories from your juices add to your daily calorie intake, just like any other food. This is particularly significant when your juices include fruits.

As a reference, the following table shows the number of calories in a large, 450ml glass that’s half-filled with various juices. It’s assumed that the remainder of the glass is filled with some zero-calorie vegetable juice.

 

Juice Calories
Pear 135
Apricot 126
Peach 122
Pineapple 119
Mango 115
Apple 104
Orange 101
Carrot 90
Grapefruit 88
Watermelon 69

 

As you can see then, juicing for weight loss isn’t simply a matter of replacing water with a tastier and more nutritious alternative. You have to account for the additional calories as well.

Hidden Trap #2 of Juicing For Weight Loss

Juicing fruits is NOT as healthy as eating whole fruits.

Fruits are filled with valuable nutrients, most or all of which are available to you in the juice as well, which of course is good. But there’s one important part of fruit that’s often largely removed by juicing, and that’s dietary fiber.

Notice how when you juice a fruit like apple or pear, there’s a whole lot of pulp left in the juicing machine? Well, most of that is fiber, and it’s an extremely valuable part of the fruit – especially if you’re trying to lose weight.

There’s one fruit that isn’t affected so much by this problem though – oranges. These are generally very easy to juice – which is why you can juice them by hand – and you’ll notice that when you do, there isn’t all that much material left behind on the skin.

The table below shows the amount of dietary fiber in various fruits before and after juicing, so that you can see the amount of fiber you lose.

 

Fruit Fiber Per 100g
(Whole)
Fiber Per 100g
(Juiced)
Passion Fruit 10.4g 0.2g
Prune 7.1g 1.0g
Guava 5.4g 0.1g
Pear 3.1g 0.6g
Lemon 2.8g 0.4g
Lime 2.8g 0.4g
Orange 2.4g 2.0g
Apple 2.4g 0.2g
Apricot 2.0g 0.6g
Mango 1.8g 0.3g
Mandarin 1.8g 0.2g
Peach 1.5g 0.6g
Pineapple 1.4g 0.2g
Grapefruit 1.1g 0.1g

 

Tomato Juice

As you can see, in almost all cases the amount of fiber lost is quite substantial. This indicates that when it comes to most fruits, juicing for weight loss really isn’t a good idea.

A lot of fruits are high in soluble dietary fiber, which is very, very beneficial for weight loss. Soluble fiber assists in weight loss in many ways – some that aren’t even fully understood yet. If ever there was a weight loss “wonderfood” then soluble fiber would be it.

Here’s a list of disadvantages caused by removing all or most of a whole fruit’s dietary fiber by juicing:

  • You increase the Glycemic Index, or GI of the fruit. This means that it has a more pronounced effect on raising your blood sugar level, which has negative effects on both your health and your weight loss.
  • You decrease the Thermic Effect of the fruit. This means that your body uses up less calories in digesting and processing the fruit, since you’ve converted it to liquid form. This is obviously a bad thing for weight loss.
  • Soluble fiber combines with water in your stomach to form a gel-like substance that makes you feel full. By juicing a fruit and therefore removing its soluble fiber you take away the fruit’s ability to make you feel full.
  • You erase all the additional benefits of fiber to the health of your digestive system.

Hidden Trap #3 of Juicing For Weight Loss

Juicing vegetables is NOT as healthy as eating whole vegetables.

This is a similar situation to that of fruits, which I talked about above.

One of the major reasons that dark green, leafy vegetables are so important in your diet, especially if you’re trying to lose weight, is that they’re an important source of dietary fiber. As is the case for fruits however, the act of juicing strips much of the fiber from the vegetable, taking away a huge benefit of eating the vegetable in the first place.

And again, when it comes to vegetables the disadvantages caused by juicing for weight loss are similar to those I mentioned for fruit:

  • One of the really fantastic things about leafy green vegetables is that you can load up on them safely because they have very few calories and lots of bulk (because of their fiber content), so they make you feel full. This is particularly important when you’re on a calorie-restricted diet for losing weight – you want foods that fill you up as much as possible to make things easier for you. In fact, a great strategy for weight loss is to have a serving of these vegetables at the beginning of your meal. This reduces your likelihood of overeating your higher-calorie foods, because you’re made to feel satisfied very quickly. Removing the fiber from these vegetables by juicing however, completely destroys this potential benefit.

Carrot Juice

  • Juicing vegetables on their own generally doesn’t taste great. For this reason, a lot of people tend to mix fruits with vegetables in their juices. This however adds calorie to the juice, which is even more destructive to the benefits of leafy green vegetables. Instead of having a low-calorie, filling food, by juicing you turn it into a higher-calorie, non-filling drink.
  • You increase the Glycemic Index, or GI of a meal by substituting whole vegetables with juiced ones. Again, this causes your blood sugar level to rise more quickly, which is bad for your health and weight loss.
  • You decrease the Thermic Effect of the vegetable by converting it into liquid form. Again, this means your body uses up less calories in digestion – less calories burned means less weight lost.
  • As for fruits, you remove all the additional benefits of fiber to the health of your digestive system.

Hidden Trap #4 of Juicing For Weight Loss

It’s easy to overdo your fruit intake by juicing for weight loss.

On a weight loss diet, the majority of calories you get from carbohydrates should ideally come from natural complex carbohydrates. These are preferable to simple carbohydrates because of their higher thermic effect. As you know, this means your body burns more calories in digesting and processing these foods.

Ideally your carbohydrate intake from natural simple carbohydrates shouldn’t exceed about one-third. In fact, a little less would be better.

When juicing for weight loss however, it’s very easy to go overboard on the amount of natural simple carbohydrates you consume through fruits. Having to eat a fruit piece by piece or bite by bite slows down the process of consuming it, giving you more time to feel satisfied.

When you drink a juice, on the other hand, you consume it very quickly and feel very little “filling effect” from it. This makes it more likely that you consume too much, even if you are counting the calories in the juice.

Remember – you have to favor those complex carbohydrates to lose the weight faster.

The Solution to Juicing For Weight Loss

So then, does this all mean that if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s best to avoid juicing altogether? Of course not.

As I mentioned at the beginning, juices are healthy and nutritious, and they add an extra element of variety to your diet, which is a good thing.

As long as you’re aware of the potential pitfalls to juicing for weight loss (which you now are), and you therefore do it in moderation, you shouldn’t have too many problems.

Peach Smoothie

It’s important that you continue to have fresh, whole fruits and vegetables as well though – these are important.

But what if you’re a big fan of juicing and you’d hate to have to give it away, or even cut back? Well, you might want to consider trying to blend fruits and vegetables in a blender instead of juicing. By blending you’re essentially still liquefying the foods, although naturally not to the same degree, but most importantly, you’re not stripping out the all-important fiber.

This is an excellent alternative.

Sometimes blending fruits and vegetables can result in a gluggy, pasty mixture however, that’s not so convenient to get out of the blender and eat. You could try throwing in a handful of ice to make it more liquid – you basically get a frozen smoothie type of product.

Just experiment a little until you find a process you like. Once you hit on the right combination you’ll essentially be able to enjoy the best of both worlds.

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29 Responses to “The 4 Hidden Traps of Juicing For Weight Loss”

  1. Filomena says:

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this write-up and the
    rest of the site is really good.

  2. soniya says:

    I agree with some of your points but not all. I agree with the juicing too much fruit with your veggies part of it. But juicing is amazing. I have experimented with it a lot, and I find the mistake people often make is just jump into juicing..if you are over weight, then I suggest easing into it, cleanse your colon first..then embark on the juice quest. I just jumped into it, I was bloated, sick and gained even more weight..and no it wasn’t the calories that caused it..I was very toxic, clogged up colon..I cut back on calories, eat more raw for a while drink lots of water..cleansed my colon..then I juiced..OH boy!! no bloating, or sickness..I had so much energy it was amazing, skin looks great..tons of benefits. Another mistake ppl often make is after juicing the jump right back into the SAD diet..gain all and even more weight back..

  3. Suni Ferrer says:

    Excellent article! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Curt says:

    Well, I’m about to embark on a juicing journey and have read quite a bit about it. I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in November and had radioactive seeds implanted to hopefully take care of it. The second limb on my tree of health is to lose about 80 lbs. I don’t want to do it in a reckless manner, so I have decided to juice for breakfast, lunch, and “snacks”, while having a low-calorie evening meal. This way, I can likely avoid some of the gastrointestinal issues and lose the weight slowly. This seems to me to be an ideal way to lose weight steadily with less chance of giving into hunger or feeling “left out” at mealtime in the evenings.

    The last limb on my tree is an increase in exercise. I have a sedentary job and always find excuses not to exercise. That’s got to change. Now that the kids are into their teens, I have less responsibility in running them around and such. Time to get moving again. After 20 years of almost daily physical activity in the military, the last ten years of the complete opposite have taken its toll.

    I have no other health issues (BP, Cholesterol, Triglycerides, etc are all normal), but because of the Cancer and the history of it in my family, I need to move away from the processed foods that contribute to my unhealthiness and get back to the weight I was at when I retired from the military.

    All things being equal, JUST juicing seems dangerous and foolish in the long run if there is no lifestyle change. I hope people understand this simple concept.

    • Fabian says:

      Sorry to hear about your diagnosis Curt, your new healthy lifestyle and positive attitude will go a very long way to managing and overcoming your challenges. Stick with it, you’ll get there!

  5. sidney says:

    Hi, Thanks for your concern on peoples health. Unfortunately what you are saying above is mostly not true about juicing. Juicing, in fact, doesn’t remove soluble fiber. Only Insoluble. This changes a great deal of what you are asserting. For instance, one can juice exclusively and in fact lower sugar levels, i.e. cure Type 2 diabetes. While neither type of fiber is absorbed by the body, soluble is used in a far more active way than the insoluble. Also unfortunate is the fact that many in the nutrition community have also not caught onto this.

    • Fabian says:

      Wow I didn’t realize that juicing was such a controversial topic ha ha! :)

      With regards to lowering the GI of food (slowing the blood glucose response), I have seen sources that state soluble fiber has a greater effect than insoluble fiber, and I have seen sources that say insoluble fiber has a greater effect than soluble fiber. A major part of the confusion is the fact that dietary fiber includes many complex substances, and each has its own unique chemical structure and properties. At the end of the day however it’s fair to say that both forms of fiber affect the glycemic response to a material degree. That means that any fiber that’s stripped out of a carbohydrate food (through juicing or other means) will increase its GI.

      Taking fiber from a fruit or vegetable isn’t the end of the world however, but it is important to understand it’s effect on GI. It’s also important to bear in mind that there is a minimum recommended daily fiber intake for good health and weight maintenance, and also that fiber plays an important role in keeping you satisfied. If you compare eating an orange to drinking the juice of an orange for example, you’ll see that there is a big difference.

      I’m curious about your statement that juicing can lower sugar levels and cure Type II diabetes, can you elaborate on that?

    • cleanqueen says:

      I have to agree with Sidney. We have just recently started juicing and we are still trying to figure out what flavors we like but for the most part it has been amazing. You feel better and have more energy b/c your body doesn’t have to process the food you eat rather it can gain all the nutrients from the fruits and veggies you juice with little waste. My husband has to lose 75# and I can honestly say he has struggled with his weight all of his life. Juicing is turning out to be a wonderful weight loss tool for him.

  6. Brenda Rogers says:

    I have to disagree Victor.. and I think you were a little disrespectful. I actually thought this was a really well written article and you’re wrong, juicing DOES help with weight loss.

    I think where some people go wrong is completely relying on juicing to lose weight. You should treat it kind of like a supplement to your diet. There are still certain foods that you should avoid like the plague, even some that you see in popular weight loss magazines.

    There’s a presentation called “5 Foods To Never Eat” by Isabel De Los Rios which you can see at: http://www.DSPmethod.com – I think most people would be surprised at some of the foods that are particularly bad for piling on the pounds!

    @Fabian – Ignore Victor, this was one of the best articles I’ve read on juicing!

  7. Voytek says:

    Thanks for interesting insight in potential downfalls of going over exited about juicing.

    You’ve confirmed my suspicion about loss of fibre although I didn’t know about it’s importance in lowering the GI.

  8. victor says:

    Article is garage.waste of my time. I lost 50 lbs on only juicing..do some research before accepting this false article..maybe juicing hasnt helped you ..

    • Fabian says:

      Victor . . . firstly, this article doesn’t suggest you can’t lose weight by juicing, it merely points out the potential pitfalls of juicing and gives reasons. Labeling an entire article as “garbage” is very convenient but it is hardly a convincing critique. If you can highlight any specific quoted facts in the article that you disagree with I’ll be happy to discuss them with you, but I can assure you that everything here is factual.

      I have not used juicing personally to lose weight so this article is not a reaction to juicing not having worked for me. This article WAS researched, and unlike your comments, not based on the experience of one individual. It’s not uncommon in fitness and weight loss for people to get results inspite of what they do. The question we always need to ask ourselves isn’t “did this work for me?”, but rather “was this optimal?” And in reality, without knowing the exact details of what else was happening in your life it’s impossible to know exactly how much of a positive or negative effect juicing had for your weight loss.

      I’m glad to hear you lost weight by juicing, but please bear in mind that your personal experience doesn’t change facts!

    • Nat says:

      I agree that you should definitely read more than just this article to make up your mind about juicing. This seems to focus a lot on juicing high calorie fruits. Most juices can be made with just one fruit and the rest can be veggies. Kale, Spinach, Carrot, Apple Juice is just as delicious as a plain ol’ orange juice. This was not helpful. I think you have to do more research and juice actually experience juicing yourself before misleading people.

      • Fabian says:

        Nat, this article is not intended to be an in-depth thesis covering the entire topic of juicing. And nowhere do I suggest that it should be used as a basis for deciding whether to juice or not. It’s just a brief write up and as the name suggests, it’s merely intended to point out a few of the major pitfalls of juicing for weight loss that many people overlook.

        If it appears as though it focuses more on fruits than vegetables, that’s because when it comes to losing weight, there are more pitfalls to juicing fruits than vegetables. You’re right, there are a variety of vegetables you can juice (this is actually mentioned in the article) but the fact remains that juicing will strip most of the fiber out of them.

        I drink juices and eat blended fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, I just have never used juices as a basis for losing weight. This is irrelevant however and I fail to see how this changes any information in this article, the article is based on facts and not on opinions or personal impressions.

        This article is not anti-juicing but it seems as though you have taken it as so. Rather than labeling the entire article as misleading because it’s uncomfortable to your beliefs or preferences, how about you step up and highlight one fact in it that is incorrect?

      • Gary Hawkins says:

        Watch the video online Fat Sick and Nearly dead. It will answer a lot of questions.

  9. Corrie Foster says:

    Hi…

    This article was sooooooo helpful to me.

    I have just got into juicing and enrolled on a Nutritional Juice Therapy Course and my friends have been asking my advice on juicing … One friend commented that she had heard fruit juice was fattening, so I have been trying to find information so that I could understand and explain to people the benefits and disadvantages … Your article was perfect!! Thank you :)

  10. Margo says:

    What if I remove the pulp from the container and add it to the juice

  11. blue-eyes says:

    From your understanding why does drinking juiced green leafy vegetables (not carrots- wayyy too much natural sugars) give rise to blood glucose levels?

    Thank-you.

    Blue-eyes

    • Fabian says:

      It’s not so much that they cause blood glucose levels to rise, it’s just that when you eat the whole vegetables as part of a meal, the fiber in the vegetables acts to reduce the GI of the meal as a whole (assuming the meal contains carbs of some sort other than the vegetables), therefore controlling blood glucose elevation. But when you decide to juice the vegetables instead of having them whole, you’re effectively removing the fiber, so you don’t have that GI-suppressing quality anymore. If the only carbs in the meal come from the green leafy vegetables themselves however, the GI wouldn’t be an issue since there wouldn’t be enough carb in the meal to cause much of a blood sugar rise either way.

      • Bigt says:

        I’m sorry, but your incorrect about juicing. Not all juicing is the same. There are juicers as you describe that does remove the pulp and or fiber as you call it and those juicers that emulsifies the pulp so you drink it as well. The key to juicing is to make sure you use a juicer that emulsifies everything and that you choose fruits and vegetables which are considered low on the Glycemic Index. If you stick to those fruits and vegetable, you will not have to worry about insulin levels/Blood Sugar spiking. Juicing twice a day along with a high protein low glycemic meal will keep you healthy into your 90’s. Take a look at Jack LaLane and he removed the pulp from his juicing and was amazing.

        • Fabian says:

          Not removing the pulp from a fruit or vegetable is what I refer to as blending, not juicing, since juicing is the process of extracting juice from a food. If a machine doesn’t remove the pulp from the fruits and vegetables, whatever they choose to call it, then that’s ideal. Semantics aside, I think we both agree on that, as the article says, keep the fiber in the fruits/vegetables and you don’t have a problem.

          If you have any type of juice or any type of carb in general for that matter with a balanced meal then the GI is of little importance, since protein, fiber and fats all slow down the rate of blood sugar elevation. I think way too much has been made of the Glycemic Index.

      • Gary Hawkins says:

        Carbs are not in all veg. They are in Rice, Potatoes,Wheat of any kind and Juicing stops the consumption of fatty foods. Anything fatty causes increase in weight and clogs the arteries. Unnatural sugars aid in causing weight gain and diabetes.

        • Gary Hawkins says:

          Yes the fibers are important to help clean out your system. So sometime just putting the veggies and fruit into a blender helps.
          Go to JuiceRecipes.com for great recipes and enjoy. Oh by the way, this is not my site. I just found it.

  12. Latonia Carkhuff says:

    A great and useful piece of info. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Astrid Beck says:

    amazing stuff! thanks

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