Should You Try Juicing?

October 1, 2013

To juice or not to juice? Juice shops are popping up everywhere, and if you’re not dabbling in juicing, you probably have a friend who swears by it. 

We get why trendy diets are tempting ("If it’s good enough for Kim K., it’s good enough for me!”), but it’s important to learn the facts before experimenting with any new way of eating—or in this case, drinking. 

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Read on for a liquid lesson that’ll help you decide whether you should get involved with Hollywood’s main diet squeeze.

Juice vs. Whole Produce
A juicing machine typically extracts the juice from whole fruits or vegetables, leaving behind the skin and pulp, which is packed with valuable nutrients. You miss out on fiber, in particular, which makes you feel full and stabilizes blood sugar, preventing junk-food binges. If you make your juice at home, you can add some of the leftover pulp back in your glass or use it to cook, but if you don’t end up consuming whatever the juicer removed, you’ll still need to eat plenty of fruits and veggies to enjoy all of their health-promoting benefits.

Top 3 Benefits of Juicing

1. Extra nutrients. If you don’t eat many fruits or vegetables but enjoy drinking the juice, you'll add some important vitamins and minerals to your diet that you’d normally lack.

2. More greens. Leafy green vegetables are some of the most nutrient-dense produce options around, so if you’re not besties with kale and spinach, juicing is a way to reap some of their unique rewards.

3. Less junk. If you opt for juices instead of your usual processed snackfoods, you'll save calories and boost your diet's nutritional profile overall.

The 5 Golden Rules of Juicing

Rule #1: Go cold, or go home. “Cold-pressed” juices are made in a machine that doesn’t produce as much heat as traditional juicers. Heat destroys some of the nutrients and enzymes, so cold-pressed juices are more nutritious.

Rule #2: Think before you shop. A decent juicer (read: one that doesn’t require a ton of cleaning) costs at least $150, but often several hundred dollars. That’s a hefty price tag if you’re not in it for the long haul. Consider starting with store-bought juices to make sure you're invested.

Rule #3: Don’t be too friendly with fruit. The average piece of fruit will provide just 4 ounces of juice, which means you may have to use 4 pieces to get 12-16 ounces of juice, which will contain at least 240 calories and upwards of 40 grams of sugar—the same amount in a can of soda! That said, most people find they have to ease into the flavor of vegetables juices, so you might want to add a piece or two of fruit to appease your taste buds.

Rule #4: Veggies are your friend. The calories in vegetables add up much less quickly—3 cups of leafy greens contains about 25 calories compared to 60-80 calories in a single piece of fruit.

Rule #5: Don’t fast. Simply drinking fruit and vegetable juices won’t provide the protein that you need to maintain your muscle tissue and is not recommended, especially for any longer than a few days. Adequate muscle mass is essential for weight loss, and good health in general.

Ready to juice? Toss these ingredients into a juicer, shake, and serve:

5 large handfuls of spinach
1 large or 2 small cucumbers
2 small lemons (peeled)
1 red apple or 1 pear
1 small carrot
*Makes one serving

Tammy Lakatos Shames and Elysse “Lyssie” Lakatos—otherwise known as the Nutrition Twins—are registered dieticians, certified personal trainers and authors of Fire Up Your Metabolism: 9 Proven Principles for Burning Fat and Losing Weight Forever.

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