You just signed up for a new gym membership and finished your first boxing class. As you’re putting away your equipment, you can’t help but overhear a group of women talking about juicing and smoothies! As they continue the conversation about kale and ginger you ask yourself there two questions:
- Are juicing and smoothies really healthy?
- Since these women look fantastic, should I be juicing?
In addressing the first question, it’s important to know the main difference between juices and smoothies. While smoothies are made by blending the entire plant, juices are made by extracting only the liquid and leaving all the pulp behind. This juice extraction leaves the body with a large amount of carbohydrates (sugar) without any of the fiber to help stabilize the blood glucose after this large influx of carbs. In addition to the lack of fiber, the amount of protein and fat in these plant-based juices is negligible. These missing macronutrients leave your body hungry and unable to stabilize blood sugar, which only leaves you wanting more food.
If you’ve ever tried making your own juice, you’ve realized it takes a lot of fruit to make just a small amount of liquid. For example, let’s take a pineapple mint juice. A serving of pineapple is defined as 1/2 cup, which contains 35 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates. An average pineapple mint cold-pressed juice contains 210 calories and 50 grams of carbohydrates.
That’s six times the calories and five times the carbohydrates than the recommended serving size of this fruit!
To put this in perspective a serving size of carbohydrate is defined as 15 grams or the amount of carbs in a slice of bread. Therefore, this seemingly harmless juice contains more carbs than 3 slices worth of bread.
So, what about smoothies?
Smoothies can be healthful depending on the ingredients. In addition to the fiber from the whole plant being consumed, protein and healthy fats are usual mix-ins in these drinks. For example, nuts, seeds, nut milks, nut butters, and avocado add protein and healthy fats to smoothies, making this drink a satiating and healthful option. However, it’s important to always limit the amount of fruit in your smoothies because you can easily over consume carbohydrates. See this link for a possible option.
While the fad of juicing may seem healthful, it is really a gateway to adding unwanted sugar to your diet. While the women at the gym may have looked good at first, eventually the added sugars from juicing would catch up to them leading to weight gain and other health issues.
In reality, the best way to enjoy fruits and vegetables is to eat them whole, getting all the fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that nature intended us to consume. So maybe grab your jumprope and a smoothie and head to the gym.
This blog was co-written by Susan Dopart and RD intern Raquel Papu