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.
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.
- 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.
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
|Fiber Per 100g
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.
- 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.
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.