Is Juicing Really Healthy?

A nutritionist and personal trainer says the juicing trend is too much hype and not enough substance.

Juices photo via Shutterstock

Juices photo via Shutterstock

Juicing is everywhere. Boston magazine has covered it many times. One brave editor tried a cleanse. Another discovered what goes into some of the most popular juice creations. We recently published a Q&A with a new juicery owner. So imagine our surprise when we found out that Brandon Kolar, a personal trainer and nutritionist at Equinox Boston, thinks juicing is more about hype and less about nutrition.

Kolar says that our society in general has some very negative connotations around food, and that a juice cleanse is a very easy way to drop pounds quickly. But you will gain it all back the second you eat normally again. “Depending on how long you [juice], you’re certainly at risk for losing muscle mass,” Kolar says. “When you lose muscle mass you’re actually dropping your metabolic rate, which makes your body work less efficiently. You’re creating a downward spiral by doing a juice cleanse.”

But juicing is a way for people that don’t eat a lot of vegetables and fruits to get a lot of nutrients. So how can that be a bad thing? Kolar says that there are some positive aspects to juicing. “There are a lot of positives. Obviously, this is a very simple way to get your fruits and vegetables. You’re getting tons of vitamins and minerals, and lots of phytonutrients. And you can mix concoctions that are actually yummy,” Kolar says. “Your kale can even taste good.” He also says that there is a reason why juicing is so popular. Juicing is being touted with so many benefits that it’s akin to the fountain of youth. The promised benefits include things like clearer thought; weight loss; increased energy; improved mood and cheerfulness; the feeling of satiation; and glowing skin, hair, and nails.

But that’s the tricky part. Kolar says that if don’t consume enough fruits and vegetables on a regular basis, and then start juicing, will likely see some dramatic changes. “If your body has been starving for X,Y, and Z nutrients for a long time, and you’re suddenly adding them via juice or supplements, you’re going to see a change,” Kolar says.

But that is where the good-for-you part of juicing ends, according to Kolar. First and foremost, he says, by juicing you are not getting the fiber you need. Fiber helps move waste through the body and it helps to slow down the absorption of sugar. When you are juicing, you are not getting the good fiber and nutrients that are in the pulp of fruits and vegetables. All of that goes to waste, he says. Fiber is a major reason that fruits and vegetables are good for the body. They’re full of soluble and insoluble fibers that account for many actions in the digestive tract.

“The whole idea with juicing is typically people are going to have a juice and they’re going to go. They’re not going to sit down and have some eggs with it, they’re not going to sit down and have some almond butter, they’re certainly not going to sit down and have a steak,” Kolar says. “There’s just not any protein or fats associated with it either, and we need our good fats. And when they’re taking in carbohydrates just as a meal entirely in and of itself, you’re missing out on a lot of other macronutrients.”

Kolar recommends eating whole fruits and vegetables instead of just the juice. Or, he suggests adding some nut butter or protein powder into your juice. “Don’t expect to get all [your] fruits and vegetables in fruit juicing solely. Also, maybe go to a juice bar that actually supplements in protein into their juices. Maybe through protein powder, a good organic whey protein powder. Almond milk, soy milk, either of those would be fine,” Kolar says.

What do you think? Is juicing a passing trend or here to stay? Have you tried a cleanse? What were your results?

 

 

 

 

  • Wellstoner

    Such a narrow viewpoint. And “losing muscle mass”? If I had something to lose I’d be concerned. Also, any American diet has nothing to worry about as far as protein. I likely take in 400% of RDA without thinking about it. What I Iove about juicing is what I learn about my eating habits and how I feel afterwards. I was surprised, too, at what I craved after a 7 day juice fast. I was dying for a spinach salad of all things. The juice is so fresh and gives you so much energy because it’s immediately assimilated. Looking at fast or processed food just made me shake my head. It was so “dead”. Try it, it’s fun!

  • http://twitter.com/Jill_Tomich Jill Tomich

    Great points:
    1) juicing removes the fiber. Fiber is important to help you feel full and is a natural “cleansing” agent for the body
    2) solely cleansing with juice does not provide all the nutrients you need for sustainable health

    Don’t Agree with:
    1) Supplementing your juice with protein. If you have a juice for a snack or breakfast and eat balanced meals the rest of the day, no need to add protein powders (which can be full of chemicals)

    Other things to consider:
    If you are juicing for an extended period to lose weight, your body will treat juicing as crash diet: you’ll lose weight rapidly and gain back EVEN MORE when you stop juicing.

    I find adding green smoothies to my clients’ natural, whole-foods diet is an easy way for them to add veggies to their day, increase their fiber intake, reduce their cholesterol and lose weight naturally in a sustainable way without lowering their metabolism. http://www.jilltomich.com

  • stjimkia .

    Like many juice critics,This “fitness expert” is way off base on a number of points regarding juicing. The major reason fruits and vegetables are good for you has NOTHING to do with the fiber they contain. The main reason fruits and vegetables are good for the body is because of they conatin the vitamins, minerals and nutrients the body needs on a daily basis. Fiber is fiber-its not digested by the body. If you decide to juice, you can easily meet your fiber needs by eating foods like whole grains, salads, or oatmeal. You do not NEED to get fiber from fruits and vegetables- you need the nutrients that these foods supply and the best way for your body to absorb them is from juicing. I bodybuild and I totally agree the body needs plenty of protein. That is why I always recommend that you eat “around” the juice to balance the diet. I am not an advocate of lving completely on juicing. However, juicing is definately the best way to get the most out of vegetables and fruits.

    • Paul

      Seriously? The best way to get the most out of fruits and vegetables is by juicing? How about you just eat the fruits and vegetables? It’s the combination of the nutrients and the fiber; eating the vegetable the way it was meant to be eaten that gives the greatest benefit. By juicing alone, you’re not getting complete nutrition. Eating unbalanced, incomplete foods is what will throw your body out of balance and leads to systemic inflammation.

      • Scott Winkler

        when you Juice you take in so much more vegetables and fruit then you would be eating them whole. for example a small juice batch would be 4 medium carrots, 2 large oranges, 1 beet. that’s 400 calories, more than a full meal, and that’s just a small batch, personally one I drink in the morning for breakfast and for dessert after dinner, there’s nothing wrong with juicing, at least not for a period of time. I’ve yet to hear about a truly bad experience with juicing where someone got sick and/or died from it, and this blog is solely based on an experts opinion, not experience. I really think this is just a blog to get the attention of the juicing doubters so they can get advertisement clicks to get paid.

  • http://gdtdesignstudio.com Garrick Dee

    I think Brandon is referring to the negative effects of a juice fast which are valid but a juice fast is part of juicing and not juicing itself so he’s a bit off with his warnings. If researches long enough he’ll find out that most experts wouldn’t recommend juicing fruits as they contain a lot of sugar.

    For people new to juicing who still aren’t acquainted with the flavor of green juice more fruits can be added like strawberry and apples to sweeten up the drink then as they get more used to drinking green juice, add in more green leafy stuff.

    For people concerned with fructose, use lemon as it is good in neutralizing the bitterness.

    Juicing isn’t meant to replace eating whole fruits and vegetables but it is meant to compliment it and promote a healthier lifestyle. If I was a newbie and I’d read this article I’d be turned off with juicing so please be careful and research on the subject matter carefully.

    Garrick from http://www.juicingwithg.com

  • http://weightloss5ws.com/ Anne Pennington

    Yes juicing is healthy in many ways .it also helps in weight loss ,if you want to lose weight with juice it requires that they should not possess calories.There are many Natural weight loss recipes that are good and healthy but juices that helps in weight loss are grape fruit juice,lemon juice and many more