Juicing Benefits: Supplement or Cleanse?

By Haley Bass | 09/30/2016

From celebrity diets to health blogs, we’ve seen the juicing trend around for several years and in multiple incarnations. While some people use juicing to supplement their healthy diet, others will take 3- to 7-day juice cleanses to detoxify their system.

But which is better for you? Here are the pros and cons to juicing as a supplement or a cleanse:

Juicing as a Supplement

PROS:

Promotion of healthy eating habits
Sometimes drinking a delicious juice concoction is just more fun than eating a carrot stick. Supplementing homemade juices for fruit and veggie servings promotes a healthy diet without the fuss that is often associated with eating spinach or bananas. Juice can be a great alternative for a picky eater, or even just for someone with a busy lifestyle.

Faster benefits
Fruits and vegetables naturally have immune boosting nutrients, but solids break down in the body at a slower pace. Transforming the goods into a liquid state allows for a faster, more efficient way for your body to absorb all of the nutrients.1 The faster the nutrients have access to your body, the faster they can start fighting disease!

Access to the goods
Digestive enzymes, which break down our food into nutrients for the body to absorb, are stuck in the fiber matrix of whole fruits and vegetables, making it difficult for our bodies to access. In juice form, the fiber is broken up, allowing much easier access to the digestive goods.1

CONS:

Lost fiber and protein
The juicing process removes the pulp from whole fruit and vegetables, which means you’re also removing the fiber. You’re missing a lot of the protein as well, which might mean losing muscle mass. Your body needs protein and fiber to keep you full and boost your metabolism. And people who don’t realize that veggies need to be part of the juice might be getting more than they asked for – pure fruit juice adds a LOT of unnecessary calories.2

Pricey or time-consuming
Fancy juicing machines can cost between $50-$400. The more expensive ones will give you more of the fruit benefits by grinding the core, rind and seeds. If you’re not willing to spend a pretty penny on one of these machines, you can use a normal blender--but be prepared to do some work. You’ll need to remove the seeds, rinds, skins, etc. on your own before blending the juice. At that point, just eating an apple would save a lot of time and effort.

Lack of research
When it comes down to the nitty gritty, there just isn’t a lot of research showing that juicing is healthier than eating whole fruit and vegetables. If that’s your motive, you might as well just stick to the old school health facts.

Juicing as a Cleanse

PROS:

Release the fat
If you only drink juice (homemade, not the sugary store bought stuff) for 3 to 7 days, your body is definitely going to get rid of some fat. The high water content washes the system out quicker and easier than a solid diet, mobilizing the fat at a faster rate.3 Juice cleanses specifically decrease the number of bacteria directly linked to obesity and weight gain.4

Healthy immune system
The combination of rich vitamin, fiber, and antioxidant content found in fruits and vegetables helps fight disease, supports the immune system, and may reduce the risk of cancer.4 Having a focused amount of these goods delivered to your system for several days should provide a lot of positive impact on your immune system.

Lose a few pounds (temporarily)
A liquid-based diet, especially one solely made of fruits and veggies, is bound to be a significant decrease in calories from your normal diet. Less calories and fat-fighting nutrients will definitely help you lose a few pounds.4 However, since this is not a sustainable diet, the weight loss may only be temporary.

CONS:

Unexpected weight gain
With no carbs, and very limited protein and fiber, you’re going to lose weight. But the day you introduce them back into your system, the weight is likely to return. A juice cleanse causes you to lose weight because with no carbs to burn for energy, your body will burn stored fat instead.3 Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, this process, known as ketosis, causes you to feel and even smell badly. Yuck.

Doesn’t keep you full
Again, a juice cleanse lacks carbs and has an inadequate amount of protein and fiber. These are the goods that keep you full, so without them, your body won’t feel satisfied. Hunger causes you to crave instant gratification in snacks that might not be healthy for you.2 You’ll also just be generally uncomfortable and a bit hangry.

Not supported
There are very few doctors, scientists or nutrition experts that support juice cleansing as a healthy diet. The weight you lose comes back quickly, and your colon and liver already eliminate and neutralize toxins as a natural body process.3

Conclusion: Skip the juice, eat the fruit

While homemade juices might be a great method for getting picky eaters to get their fruit and veggies, this trend might be too flawed. The best thing you can do for your body and health is to just follow a healthy diet and make sure to get 4 servings of vegetable and 3 servings of fruit a day.5

If time is an issue, set aside a snack prepping session once a week. Make it a Sunday ritual – measure out your fruits and veggies for the week and bag them up. It will save you time and money!

Resources
[1] http://www.rebootwithjoe.com/juicing/benefits/
[2] http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/juicing-health-risks-and-benefits#1
[3] http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/detox-diets-cleansing-body#1
[4] https://www.pressedjuicery.com/learn/juice-cleanse-benefits
[5] https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2000/document/build.htm