Fruit and vegetables contain a high number of vitamins, minerals and bioactive compounds and should form the basis of any healthy dietary plan.
At face value, a juice diet seems like an appropriate way of dieting. It can provide most of the calories and some of the nutrition you need to stay healthy, but allows weight loss to take place by promoting a calorie deficit.
This diet’s attracting people like fruit flies. But is this trend all it’s cracked up to be? Or is it just another example of overly-hyped, celebrity-led fad diet?
Read on to find out why this method of weight loss isn’t the best choice for you.
What is a Juice Diet?
The best place to start here would be to define what a juice diet actually is. Although there are many approaches, varieties and brands associated with this dietary intervention, they all revolve around similar principles.
To follow a juice-based diet you replace all of your meals with drinks, taking in all of your calories as liquids. Some allow small solid snacks or occasional meals, however this is a much rarer approach.
It is based around an astonishingly low daily calorie intake of around 1000-1200 kcal. It is also recommended to drink water alongside the diet to maintain hydration.
Juices are an easy way to get a hit of vitamins and minerals. Blending assorted fruits and vegetables can create a tasty drink that provides essential phytonutrients and a range of bioactive compounds. It also makes it easier to get your 5-a-day or to hide the taste of a particular food that you can’t eat on its own.
But whilst there are a small number of benefits to a juice diet, there are also a number of false claims made that unfortunately form a large part of the marketing approach.
Juice Diets and The Detox Cleanse Myth
One of the biggest marketing claims made by proponents of the diet is that it detoxes the body and cleanses it of toxins. The problem is though that this simply isn’t true.
The complex relationship between the liver, kidneys, skin and gut works hard constantly to eliminate anything potentially harmful from the body. The teamwork between your organs does this absolutely fine, without assistance from liquefied calories.
The build up of infection, bacteria, chemicals and metabolic waste products such as ammonia or urea is excreted from the body quickly so that they cause no long-term issues. To refer to these specifically as toxins is pushing the boundaries of truthfulness – and a juice diet most certainly won’t clean your body of them.
Unfortunately though, these are the types of words that you might cling to if you’re wanting to lose weight. And these companies know that.
Having a blended juice drink every now and then is a great idea. Leading a busy schedule and lifestyle, you’ll often need food on the go, and a mixture of nutrients that you can access throughout the day is fantastic – and certainly better than nothing at all.
Aside from being built around science that just isn’t true, there are a number of side effects to a diet solely based on liquid calories that you need to be aware of if you’re considering following a manufacturer program.
#1. Juice Diets are Often Low in Fiber
The irony of a juice diet is that whilst it claims to improve digestive health, it often have the opposite effect. As the skeleton of plant foods, fiber provides bulk to foods that the digestive tract has to break down. Removing the pulp of foods removes the fiber and this can lead to a number of side effects.
A lack of fiber in the diet can lead to loss of muscle in the gut, constipation, and digestive discomfort. Fiber helps to slow the transit of food through the gut so that digestion properly takes place.
When you go back to eating solid food later down the line, your gut just isn’t strong enough to cope with it and you’ll cause further issues.
Fiber rich diets help to keep you full due to their bulk, and have also been linked to lower cholesterol, blood sugar and certain types of cancers.
Removing this from foods can be detrimental to health, particularly for those who are at risk of heart disease or metabolic disease.
#2. They Also Decrease Protein Intake
Whilst plant foods provide carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals they neglect protein intake as they won’t provide you with a full amino acid profile.
As a macronutrient responsible for regulating protein synthesis and lean body tissue, decreased protein in the diet will ultimately result in net muscle loss – disastrous for anyone wanting to improve their body composition.
Protein is also important for liver health and promotes a healthy immune system – as well as efficient enzymes and hormones.
#3. Juicing Limits Fat Soluble Vitamin Absorption
Fruit and vitamins contain the water soluble vitamins B and C that are taken up by the body but are not stored. Instead, once your body has enough, the excess is excreted in your urine. Eating these foods helps to keep your levels topped up each day.
Vitamins A, D, E and K however are fat soluble. This means that they are absorbed into your fatty tissue where they are kept until needed by the body. Without taking in fat in your diet, it’s very difficult to absorb these vitamins – and this can lead to deficiencies.
Few fruits and vegetables contain enough fat to obtain sufficient nutrition and this can lead to brittle nails, weak hair and dry skin as well as other side effects on top of that.
The only foods that do have fats in – such as avocado – don’t juice that well due to their texture.
#4. They’re Not Effective Long Term
There’s not much doubt about it – in the short term a diet of only 1000 cal made up of liquids will make you lose weight. Whether that’s a healthy way of doing it or not is another question.
Nevertheless, one common issue with a liquid diet is the rebound effect once you come off of it. With such a poor state of nutrition, your metabolism will be low. Very low. Once you begin introducing fiber, protein and fats back into your diet, you’ll soon start to put weight back on very quickly.
#5. Juice Dieting Can be Expensive
No matter how you get drawn into the so-called ethical principles of juicing companies, they are a business. An expensive one at that. And they want to make money from you.
One of the biggest marketing actions of juice diet manufacturers is that their pre-mixed juices go through a pasteurization process. They claim that as pathogens can live on raw food, the process kills any potential bacteria but still allows you to obtain all of the goodness.
And this porcess really hikes the prices up. Facot in the packaging and delivery process and you’ll be quickly looking at well over 60$ per day for some products.
Even if you were to juice diet from home, juicing machines can be expensive (and the cheaper ones don’t juice very well) and the constant supply of fruit and vegetables can soon add up.
Summary – Are Juice Diets Effective for Weight Loss?
The inclusion of fruit and vegetables into your diet is one large step forward to a healthy and balanced way of eating. But juice diets do not promote healthy eating and instead create a dietary approach that will soon have you back to square one.
The limited macronutrient content and lack of fiber can cause gastro-intestinal issues and low amounts of fat-soluble vitamins can leave you feeling run down and low on energy.
There is no evidence that juicing removes toxins or cleanses the body – the internal organs do that just fine on their own.
Our advice would be to aim for a healthy, food-based diet and include regular exercise. Consider a fat burning supplement as well to really improve your body composition.
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