It’s a new year and that means resolutions are being made to lose pounds gained during the hectic, calorie-filled holiday season – and maybe just to start eating healthier. A popular choice for jump-starting weight loss is juicing: replacing at least one meal a day with a blended juice, although some of the more extreme plans call for nothing but juice for
up to three weeks.
These diets often use language about
“clean” eating to entice you – touting their ability to “detox” your system and, of course, help you drop pounds fast.
An entire industry has sprung up around juicing.
But is juicing a healthy way to lose weight? Yes and no.
Getting more vegetables and fruits into your diet is always a good idea.
The current guidelines call for 3 to 5 servings of vegetables and 2 to 4 servings of whole fruits a day, but many Americans
fall far short of this mark. If you’re trying to develop a habit of eating more fruits and vegetables, juicing can be an ideal option since you can easily fit most of your daily servings into a blender. As for assisting with weight loss, eliminating processed and fast foods from your diet can lead to weight loss.
The danger with replacing fast-food or prepared meals with juice is that not all juices are created equal. Many prepared juices have
high sugar contents. While a trip to the local juice spot may feel virtuous, you can easily consume 400 or more calories through a straw if you’re not careful. The trick is to stick to juices made with whole fruits and vegetables, and avoid smoothies, which can often contain calorie busters, like
sherbet and ice cream.
What about the “detox” factor? When
William Sandborn, MD, chief of the division of gastroenterology at UC San Diego Health was asked by
San Diego Magazine about the
benefits of detox diets and juicing, he noted that detoxing is performed naturally by our own bodies “through the kidneys, the liver, the stool, and a little through skin with sweating.” However, for those looking to kick the fast food habit and eat better, he had this advice: “Detoxing as a way to transition from eating processed food to natural food is good and there’s a reasonable and healthy way to do it. Just because your food turns to juice, you still want to stick with the same 2,000 or so calories a day. Make sure the drink stays between 300 and 400 calories.”
What’s the take away? Juicing can be a convenient way to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet if you stick to whole fruits and vegetables. On that note, here are three recipes for do-it-yourself juices and healthy smoothies that are high in nutrition, but low in calories.
Blueberry Banana Smoothie:
This tasty smoothie contains blueberries, which are high in vitamin C and rank among the
highest fruits for antioxidants, a frozen banana, which gives it an indulgent, creamy texture, and skim milk, a great source of vitamin D.
Blueberry-Cabbage Power Juice (Recipe courtesy of Eating Well):
This beautifully hued juice is just 77 calories per serving and high in vitamin C. Plus cabbage, like blueberries, is also high in antioxidants and contains compounds that
help protect against breast, colon and prostate cancers.
Power Gulp (Recipe courtesy of Health):
This green machine is high in folate, vitamins A, C and K, and iron. A delicious hulk of a drink!