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Juicing for Weight Loss: Does It Really Work?

Why I Don’t Recommend Juicing to Lose Weight


Updated February 15, 2014

Juicing for Weight Loss: Does It Really Work?

Do you really know what's in your juice?

Spencer Jones/morguefile
Juicing is all the rage right now. Dieters and exercise junkies come up with wild concoctions of veggies, fruits and supplements then liquefy them into healthy sounding drinks. But are they really healthy? And is juicing for weight loss really effective?

Part of the reason depends on why you drink your fruits and vegetables. And part of the answer depends on how you include juice drinks into your total diet plan. As a general rule, I skip them altogether and I'll explain why.

Why Do You Drink Juice?

If you sidle up to the juice bar hoping to fill up on the healthy vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that you find in fruits and veggies then chances are good that you're going to get what you pay for. Blueberries for example, are high in vitamin C. Mango has plenty of B6 and vitamin A. Sounds like a good deal right? If you add spinach to your drink, you also get iron, niacin, riboflavin and a host of other healthy nutrients. Now it sounds like a great deal, right? Well, it is a good deal if you don't eat whole fruits or veggies as part of your regular diet.

Juicing - Why I’m Skipping the Fad

So why would I deny myself a healthy concoction of vitamins and minerals? Because I like food, that's why. At least, that's the biggest reason for me. Juice drinks can contain hundreds of calories. If I'm going to consume a few hundred calories, I want to enjoy each and every one. I don't want to slurp them through a straw. I want to see my food on a plate, season it the way I prefer, cut it, chew it and take some time to taste it and enjoy it. Eating is an enjoyable and satisfying experience for me. Juicing shortchanges that experience.

If you’re dieting, you may also need to enjoy the sensory experience of eating. For many people, dieting is stressful. Losing weight may mean that you have to give up some of your favorite foods and eat less than you normally would. When you also deny yourself the positive sensory experiences that happen at mealtime, you could easily tip the stress scales too far in the wrong direction and end up giving up on your diet altogether.

More Downsides to Juicing

But even if the sensory experience of eating isn’t important to you, there are other reasons to think about whether juicing for weight loss is right for you.

  • Excess sugar: Depending on how your juice drink is made, it can contain disproportionately high levels of sugar. Even if you don't add extra sugar, most sweet fruits contain high levels of fructose. When you separate fructose from fiber (found in the meat of the fruit) the sugar is digested very quickly. You could end up becoming hungry and eating more a short time later.

  • Excess calories: It's easy to think that you'll consume fewer calories in a glass than you would on a plate, but juice calories can skyrocket when you're throwing gobs of stuff into a machine. If your juice drink is replacing a meal, then it's reasonable to consume 400 or 500 calories in liquid form. But for many people, the drink is an addition to their meals and snacks. If you're trying to lose weight, those calories could be a problem.

  • Whole fruits and vegetables are better for you. The whole forms of fruits and vegetables are really good for you and juicing may mean that you to eat less of them. When you eat fruits and veggies in their whole from, you benefit from the fiber and the texture in those foods. And because whole fruits and vegetables usually take longer to eat, you may end up consuming fewer calories in a sitting.
Just because I haven't jumped aboard the juice trend, doesn't mean that you should quit the habit if you like juicing to lose weight. But just like with anything you put in your mouth, you should know what you're eating and why. Make sure you know the nutrient content, including grams of sugar and total calorie count, before you decide whether or not your juice drink is healthy.

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