It seems like everybody and her sister has gone on a juice cleanse. Juice bars are the new bars – the hip place to go, drink, and socialize (minus the alcohol, plus the kale). So could there really even be any cons of juicing?
For years, juicing has been considered a bedrock of a healthy diet. It has been heralded as a miraculous thing for all the benefits it offers – from losing weight to fighting cancer.
No wonder the juicing trend has spread like wildfire amongst hardcore dieters and physical trainers. Even moderately health-conscious individuals seem to try the occasional carrot concoction or wheatgrass shot when they are at a healthy eatery (guilty as charged!).
For others, juicing seems to be the way of life.
Why? Because they think squeezing the health benefits of veggies and fruits into a glass can be better, tastier, and more convenient than gobbling a plate of vegetables every time they dine.
But wait! Before you start hunting for the biggest and best industrial juicer and renovating your kitchen to occupy it… Before you spend hundreds of dollars on juice cleanses from health boutiques…
… It’s important to know that even the greatest of health hacks can have their drawbacks.
Let’s go where most health blogs have not gone before – I am going to talk about the cons of juicing.
No Two Juices Are The Same
Now, there are different quality levels when it comes to juices.
- There are some pre-packaged “juices” you can find at just about any store. Often, these are really from concentrate. Most of the time, they have added ingredients and they are high in sugar. And in no way are those fruits and veggies organic. Those are definitely not healthy. I definitely don’t recommend them. Cross them off the list.
- Then we have cold-pressed juices that actually take the fruit and vegetables and press them to keep in as many nutrients as possible. These are often sold at small boutique-style juiceries or juice bars. Sometimes these are organic, which definitely is a step in the right direction.
- Then we have the homemade juices. This is when you buy your celery and spinach and lemons and make your own fresh juices that you can drink right away.
I want to focus on the last two juices – the kinds that are often considered to be the queens of health drinks.
With those two types of juices, there are often two types of people who drink them:
- First we have the supplementer. These are the people who add a juice or two into their lives each day – or maybe a few times a week – on top of a healthy diet.
- Then we have the juice cleanser or juice faster. These are people who either use juice as a meal replacement or they go strictly juice-only for 1, 3, 5, or even 7 days.
Here’s the deal: the cons of juicing we are about to discuss still can apply to both types of people, but especially the juice cleanser.
4 Cons Of Juicing
The devoted liquid dieters may object. And anyone that wants to be healthy-trendy may be disappointed. After all, Instagram is filled with beautiful, happy people who swear by their juice.
But we tend to forget the fact that just because something is healthy – like kale and apples and carrots – does not mean a part of a something is always perfectly and wonderfully healthy – like the juice.
The question is – is it really the ‘miracle drink’ it claims to be?
Let’s take a look at four factors that make juicing, well…not the best drink in the world.
Oh Hello Sugar!
Ok, let’s assume that you only drink homemade juices or the cold-pressed juices. Even then, the natural sugar you intake is much more than the sugar you consume by eating actual fruits and vegetables.
Though natural sugars can be good for you, too much natural sugar is still too much.
Suppose you eat an orange for a snack. You consume approximately 12 grams of sugar, but you are also getting 3 grams of fiber. But preparing an orange juice requires much more than just one fruit…which means much more sugar.
All that sugar quickly adding up does not only happen with fruits. Even veggie juices bring the same problem. Don’t believe me?
I checked out a popular juicing company to see just how much sugar was in these juices. Keep in mind these are high-end, no sugar added, pressed juices – not just the kind you find prepackaged at grocery stores.
As you’ll quickly see… for the juice cleansing crowd, 6 juices could easily go over 100 – 150 grams of sugar in one day.
You read that right, but I’ll emphasize: On a juice cleanse, you can easily go over 100 to 150 grams of sugar a day!
- For a combo of beets, apple, lemon, and ginger = About 34 grams of sugar in one bottle and only 4 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein
- For a combo of apple, spinach, romaine, parsley, cucumber, celery, apple, lemon, and ginger = About 24 grams of sugar in one bottle, 4 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of protein
- For a combo of orange, turmeric, apple, and lemon = About 36 grams of sugar in one bottle, 2 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of protein
- And though they did have a greens only option (which many people are not going to get too excited over) with kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, cucumber, celery, and lemon with 2 grams of sugar, there was still only 4 grams of fiber….
When so many people are opting in to juice cleanses to lose weight and improve their health, it’s hard to justify consuming that many grams of sugar per day.
For the person that is trying to lose weight, having that much sugar per day only trains the body to become a sugar burner, instead of a fat burner. This means that you’re burning sugar for energy instead of fat (which is what you don’t want).
Especially in order to lose weight, you have to really monitor your sugar intake, keeping it as low as possible.
Where’s The Fiber?
You definitely need healthy fiber in your food. In fact, the fiber content is one of the main reasons fruits and vegetables are so beneficial for our health.
Your body requires insoluble fiber. This is because insoluble fiber does not dissolve easily and helps in cleaning your digestive tract and getting rid of toxins and plaque.
On top of this, there’s a brilliant little system in place for fruit and fiber.
You see, fiber can actually slow down sugar absorption in the blood and control sugar spikes. So when you eat the whole fruit, all that extra fiber is helping your body absorb the natural sugars.
When you drink the occasional juice (the supplementer), you may still have a fiber rich diet the rest of the day, and that’s good. But for a juice faster/juice cleanser you are depriving your body of the necessary fiber it needs for a healthy gut and proper sugar absorption.
The majority of fruit and vegetable fiber is not in the squeezed-out juice, but in the “meat” – all that pulp that gets left out of the juice. This fiber loss is one of the biggest cons of juicing.
Not to mention that digestive issues are far too common these days. From leaky gut to IBS, the gut problems run the gamut. There’s just not a good reason to choose juicing when so much fiber is left behind.
Many people jump to juicing as a way to lose weight.
But a juice-only diet might make you feel hungry more often than you think.
Have you ever juiced in order to replace a meal or days of meals? It is not easy. You don’t feel full or satisfied. Most people feel hungry and even a bit cranky. This can easily lead to binging. AKA: not losing weight.
And if you think it’s just your mind fooling around with you… not so much. Health experts will tell you that eating solid fruits can make you full and reach satiety more quickly than drinking juice.
Keep in mind: glasses of juice may have the same amount of calories that a day full of meals has, yet it will not keep you as hunger-satisfied as eating whole foods does. You won’t ever feel satiated, and you’ll miss out on other macronutrients.
And usually juices have zero to little protein. So if your mission is to build lean muscles, juices won’t help.
Once your body finds it difficult to get protein from your food intake, it will gradually turn to your muscles for finding proteins. You will slowly start losing muscle mass and your metabolic rate will drop as well. You don’t want to lose muscle; you want to lose fat.
The Pretty Penny
For those of us without a care in the world about money, the juicing cost may not be a factor. If that’s you, there are only 3 cons of juicing. But most of us need to take cost into consideration.
Juices aren’t cheap. Even the kind you make from home.
Now don’t get me wrong, if you really want to take good care of your body, it’s important to invest properly in your health. After all, the food you eat is your real medicine. I believe in purchasing quality meat, produce, supplements, etc.
But spending money on high-quality produce you are going to eat and spending money on 2 to 5 times that much produce to make a juice are two different things. This can make a huge difference, especially if all members in your family have joined the juice frenzy.
If you want to save by making it yourself, you also need the right equipment for preparing the juice, which many families do not have on hand. A brand new juice maker may cost you a few hundred dollars. And this doesn’t factor in all the wasted fiber from the fruits and veggies that you’re juicing.
Then if you are cleansing, expect to pay much, much more. The average juice cleanses costs between $20 and $70 for one day of cleansing for one person. And that’s before shipping (which averages $60).
Juicing Alternative #1: Fruits and Vegetables
This may not seem sexy or hip, but one great way to get your nutrients plus the necessary fiber is to simply eat fruits and vegetables – lots of them.
Eat them with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Sound more simple than hip? Maybe, but it’s more effective.
You can pack a day full of produce and still have purchased less than you would have for juices. Plus you can pair them with fabulous sources of fat and protein (whether animal or plant-based).
Juicing Alternative #2: Blending!
But there is another method that is just as sippy, yet holistically better than juicing: that’s blending. How about swapping your juice for a smoothie?
Smoothies Have More Fiber
When you prepare a smoothie, all the healthy ingredients that you put in the blender go into your body: the antioxidants, the wide array of nutrients – plus, the fiber, the protein.
If you are adding the peels and cores of the vegetable and fruits into your blender (which you should), all the fiber content you have included goes into the drink and finally into your body.
Smoothies Have Lots Of Nutrients
Juicing enthusiasts always come back to the nutrients, but smoothies have them too. Most of the healthy nutrients of a fruit or a veggie are found in their cores, peels, and the other fibrous parts of the food. That also means smoothies generally have a powerful punch of antioxidants and nutrients.
On top of all that, you have more opportunity to add healthy fats, protein and superfoods through nut milks, nut butters, coconut oil, avocado, etc.
Where Blending Can Go Wrong
Smoothies have the potential for being extremely sugar heavy too, especially when your blending liquid of choice is – you guessed it – juice. Same story when it comes to sweetened nut milks or coconut milk – or if you add a sweetener of any kind.
In order to get the full health benefit of smoothies, you need to watch the sugar content. Here are the best tips to do so:
- Don’t add juice to your smoothie. You’re getting plenty of flavor and sweetness from the produce you are adding to the smoothie. It’s unnecessary.
- Don’t add sweetened nut milks. Coconut milk and almond milk are fabulous for you and a great addition to a smoothie. But you must choose the unsweetened kind.
- Add in some extra veggies: Veggies are often significantly lower in sugar, so fill your blender up with spinach or kale. Spinach has a more undetectable flavor in a smoothie if you’re just getting used to the taste.
- Add in some healthy fat: Great options like coconut oil or nut butters add no extra sugar, and plenty of extra nutrients.
- Use mostly low sugar fruits. We usually blend with a mixture of berries and we’ll occasionally add some mango to change up the flavor profile. But we never blend with just high sugar fruits – it’s too sweet and too much sugar.
- Add protein. A high quality protein powder can keep you satiated throughout the day and also add healthy fats and nutrients. We love this bone broth protein powder and add it to our smoothies regularly.
- Do. Not. Add. Sugar. If you must sweeten your smoothie, use some Stevia or try a natural, whole food source of sugar like adding one date to make it more palatable.
Here’s the deal: the occasional juice is not going to ruin your health. We’ll have an occasional juice every now and then. It’s quite refreshing. And there truly are still nutrients in that bottle (as long as it’s properly pressed and made from organic produce). And if you’re prone to sodas with artificial sweeteners and chemicals – it definitely is a better choice.
But drinking plenty of water, eating a healthful diet, and consuming whole produce is going to be your ticket to a healthy body, a healthy mind, a healthy gut – and even a smaller waistline.
It’s lower in sugar and cheaper too.
Talk to me about juicing. Have you tried it? Are you a devotee? Any low-sugar smoothies you’ve been loving lately? Have you found any of the cons of juicing in your own life?