Juicing for weight loss has been a popular diet trend for many years now as people can ingest a lot of nutrients without consuming the added ‘heaviness’ that comes along with solid foods.
However, it has been met with increasing controversy as to whether a juice diet for weight loss is the best idea. Dieters should be well informed before taking the plunge into this method and that is exactly what this article is going to be diving into.
Juicing. What Exactly Is It?
Plants and vegetables both contain juices and so, a juicing diet is the process of extracting these and leaving all the solids behind. Nowadays, there are plenty of blenders and juicers out there that will easily do this but you can always do it manually too.
No pulp, skin or seeds are left behind during this process and, therefore, although the juice from these foods contains vitamins and nutrients, all the fibre is lost.
Many people claim to go on a ‘juice detox’, ‘juice cleanse’ or ‘juice fast’ is a flawless way of ridding their bodies of unwanted toxins – bear in mind, there is no evidence to suggest this is true. Our organs are perfectly capable of clearing our systems out for us without any help from our conscious thought, which renders detoxes wholly pointless.
When Juicing, Can You Eat?
The majority of juice diets recommend the consumption of no other solid foods while doing the ‘cleanse’. However, if you are trying to fit juices into your diet and make it a healthy, long-term addition to your lifestyle, then yes, eating along with your juices is the best way to go – nutritionists will advise this method anyway, as it is a sustainable and healthy way of life.
Brilliant, So What Does Juicing Do for Your Body?
Those who swear by juicing say that by consuming only the liquid part of the fruit or vegetable, our bodies are able to more efficiently and effectively absorb the nutrients – again, there is no scientific evidence to prove this.
Juicing has also been said to decrease the risk of cancer, increase the immune system, relax the digestive system and yes, help to lose weight. Neither scientists nor nutritionists have any evidence stating that ingesting only the juice is in any way healthier than just eating the whole fruit or vegetable.
In fact, although brief juice diets are generally fairly safe, longer periods of juice fasting can potentially be harmful to your body, rather than healthy. Prolonged periods where only juice is consumed will not give the body sufficient fibre for the digestive system to function at its best, causing significant long-term health problems. In addition, no, or very little, amounts of calcium, zinc or iron will be eaten in this period, which can lead to muscle degenerative conditions, fatigue, overall weakness and a reduction in lean muscle mass too.
But, Do Juice Diets Really Work?
Some celebrities and diet fanatics who are after a ‘quick fix’ swear by juicing for weight loss, however, food experts do not advise embarking on this diet simply because of the severe calorie deficit it supports and the high sugar content.
The sheer amount of sugar in these juices rapidly increase the blood glucose levels and so, the body produces more insulin to ‘eat’ the sugar. This process often results in very low energy, headaches and extreme mood swings – not ideal.
With that being said – yes, juicing does work for rapid weight loss, but the health consequences that come right along with it greatly outweigh the positive aspect of losing weight. Chances are, the weight will come right back anyway once solid, normal foods are back in the picture.
Okay, Still, How Fast Can You Lose Weight by Juicing?
It all boils down to how much of a calorie deficit you are experiencing while doing the juice diet. There are many different juice diets to choose from and most only consist of around 600 to 1000 calories – the fewer calories consumed, the faster you will lose weight. Remember, this is for short term only, as long periods of juice fasting are not healthy!
Right, How Long to Juice Fast for Weight Loss?
It has been found that the optimum duration of a healthy juice fast for weight loss is no more than 3 days. If losing weight is the only goal in mind, the drinks need to be made up of mostly vegetables and only a touch of fruit – even though sugars in fruit are naturally occurring, no one needs a lot of it all in one go.
Fruit lovers are bound to have been put off by the ‘mostly vegetables’ scenario, however, fear not, there are plenty of ways to jazz up the juices to make them just right for you. For example, spices and lemon or lime juice can be added to mask the flavour of the vegetables that do not quite tickle the taste buds and, freshly making all the juices right before they are drunk will guarantee the finest of flavours.
On the 2 days following the juice cleanse, solid foods need to be gradually introduced again as to not overwhelm the digestive system and, in turn, make you feel sick. This can be achieved simply by drinking the juice for breakfast and eating solid but still healthy foods for lunch and dinner – again, there are plenty of ways to go about reintroducing real food, but many people have found this to be the most effective.
So, To Clarify, Is Juicing Safe?
As previously mentioned, juice diets that continue for a long period are not safe as they carry a whole world of adverse health crises such as dizziness, fatigue, reduction in lean muscle mass, overall body weakness, vital deficiencies in essential nutrients and a steady decrease in the function of the immune system.
That said, juice diets lasting around three days (cleanses, detoxes, whichever way you’d like to refer to them) with a couple of days to reintroduce solid food back into your diet can kick start weight loss, quickly increase the level of antioxidants in the body, reduce internal inflammation and, thus, lower the risk of many diseases and improve the health of the digestive system in very little time.
In short, try out a few days of juice fasting if it takes your fancy but do not make it a long-term lifestyle choice, and always consult your doctor before taking up any new diet – everyone has different requirements and ultimately, when it comes to nutrition, doctors know what is best.