What is juicing? And is juicing healthy? When people say they are “juicing” what do they mean?
Typically they are replacing one or more meals each day with a glass of pure vegetable or fruit juice.
Some people will juice as a supplement to a regular diet, some replace meals, and some do extended juice fasts or cleanses where they have nothing but juice for one or more days. If you haven’t seen the documentary Fat, Sick, And Nearly Dead, all about juicing, you definitely need to! Find it here.
Each of these choices is right for different people. Not everyone can safely skip full days of meals in favor of juice. But most people would benefit immensely by incorporating juicing as a regular part of their lifestyle. Here’s are the top 3 reasons I juice and why and when I recommend it to clients.
The biggest and most important reason that I juice is to cram lots of healthy nutrients into my body in a small package.
Juicing vegetables removes the fiber from them making it easier to ingest high quantities of antioxidants and healthful compounds. True, fiber is very important and should absolutely be a big part of the majority of your diet, but juicing allows you to get a lot of nutrition in a small package.
As a nutritionist, I often find that my busy schedule prevents me from focusing on my personal nutrition as much as I’d like. When my colleagues and I find that we’ve neglected our veggie intake, we often do a mini juice fast of 2 to 3 days to help us kick into gear.
Whenever juicing, choose vegetables over fruit (see more on that below) and only organic produce. Large quantities of produce mean you could be ingesting large quantities of harmful pesticides.
Juicing regularly is a great way to keep weight in check and even lose weight. I have many of my clients incorporate intermittent fasting, or eating within a smaller window of time during the day, say 12 p.m.-8 p.m. When clients do part of those meals as juice a few days a week, it helps boost weight loss without much struggle and difficulty.
Weight loss is a complicated process, but incorporating juicing is a great way to lower inflammation, bump up nutrition, and overall support the body so that it can do its job. When we do this, the body often responds with weight loss.
What about protein? I’m often asked if juicing will result in muscle loss. While a longer juice fast will result in some muscle loss due to lack of protein, much of the weight loss will be fat and water. Most Americans eat far too much meat everyday and skipping it for a few days is not going to do great harm to any muscle gains.
Additionally, I don’t recommend heavy exercise during a juice cleanse because of the lower level of calories. If training is very important to you, you are probably not a good candidate for a juice fast and should try to incorporate it as a supplement to your regular diet instead.
Humans have been fasting for religious reasons for centuries. It’s built into our DNA to respond well to fasting. In fact, many studies have shown that those who fast regularly live longer, healthier lives.
As human beings, we never had access to the abundance of food we do now, even just a few generations ago. It makes sense that our bodies are adapted to occasional caloric restriction.
Fasting is a tool for spiritual development as well. When we deny our bodies of the food it craves, it gives us time to think about a lot of different things. So much of our thought process is dominated by our physical needs. When we give these up for a bit, it gives us time to soul search.
Juicing is a great way to do a partial fast. Nutrition is still getting into the body, but the mind doesn’t have to focus and obsess over it like it does with typical food. It’s a denial of a certain pleasure which builds character, determination, and will.
Juicing is right for anyone who wants to get more nutrition into their bodies. It is great for those with excess weight to lose, neurological disorders, autoimmune diseases, and chronic inflammation. But how it is done depends on a lot of factors.
If you are underweight, diabetic, or struggle with blood sugar abnormalities, consider adding juice as a supplement to your regular diet, rather than going 0-60 with a juice fast right away. I find that clients do better when they begin to incorporate juicing over time, first as a supplement, then replacing one meal a few times a week, then moving on to longer stretches.
One worry that many people have is if their blood sugar will be affected by juicing. While juicing has the potential to cause havoc in your blood sugar, a few important tips help ensure it is healthy and not harmful.
First, juice mostly vegetables. The ratio of vegetables to fruit should be 80/20 or more. I choose lots of leafy greens and other green, non-starchy vegetables that I don’t typically eat in whole food form. A typical juice for me includes lots of kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, and a tiny bit of green apple and lemon for taste.
Second, add some fat. Because most of the nutrients in vegetables are only absorbable with fat, it doesn’t make sense to drink them without fat in the diet as well. When on extended juice fasts, I typically add olive oil or avocado oil to my juice to get my essential fatty acids and slow absorption of the small amount of sugars.
To juice, it’s best to make your own so that you know what it contains. It takes a lot of produce for a juice so make sure to stock up! Use a quality juicer like this one if you are serious. If you’d like to just try juicing out before investing in a higher quality juicer, this is a good entry level one.
It’s best to combine less water-dense vegetables with higher water vegetables to get a better juice. I like to use kale and spinach as my base, then half or more of a cucumber and a few celery stalks. Finally, I’ll add a quarter to a half of a green apple and a lemon and that will usually get me a full glass. You can also add coconut water to your juice to help replenish electrolytes and help the juice go farther.
If you struggle with blood sugar lows between juices, check above to make sure you are doing things correctly. Commonly juiced vegetables like beets and carrots contain a lot of sugar and I don’t recommend them to be big parts of any juice. If you do plan to use them, compensate with less fruit.
If you still feel shaky between juices, consider adding a serving in between, some protein with your juice or a plant based protein shake once a day (like this one) or try taking a chromium supplement like this one after your juice to help prevent large sugar spikes. Don’t use that as an excuse to put more fruit in your juice, though!
While I don’t recommend juicing as a form of detox (learn more about my thought on detoxing here and here) I do believe it to be a great way to jump start weight loss, improve energy, and replenish nutrients.
If you’d like guided help on a juice fast, feel free to contact me here.