The juice diet for weight loss is extremely popular, especially among celebrities. But does juicing work? Juice diet plans that include complicated blends of vegetables, different varieties of fruits and vitamin supplements sound healthy. But if you're trying to lose weight, there are a few things you should consider before you try one of these programs.
Is a Juice Diet Good for You?
Juice drinks can be (somewhat) healthy. If you blend your own juice using fresh fruits and vegetables, you benefit from the micronutrients that those ingredients provide.
For example, many of the most popular fruits and vegetables used in juice diet drinks provide a wide range of healthy vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.1
Blueberries, for example, are high in vitamin C and vitamin K. So blueberry juice has become a popular drink for people who are looking to boost their intake of those important nutrients.
Mango has plenty of B6 and vitamin A. And spinach is very low in calories and is a good source of dietary fiber, protein, and vitamins A, C, E. If you blend your juice with these ingredients, you take advantage of the health benefits provided by those ingredients.
If you don't eat a good variety of fruits and vegetables in your regular diet, juicing might be a good way for you to get the nutrients your body needs. But there are some drawbacks to juicing as well, especially if you are trying to lose weight.
Benefits for Weight Loss
Many people follow a juice diet for three, five, or even 10 days. If you drink fruit and vegetable juices for several days you are likely to enjoy some benefits—especially if you don't usually consume a variety of those foods.
First, you are likely to see weight loss from water. When you decrease the amount of starch you consume, your body sheds water. This will show up as weight loss on the scale and it is likely to give you a boost of motivation for extended dieting.2
Additionally, simply cutting your food intake will shed calories and help you to adjust to smaller food portions. Then when you return to a whole food diet, you might be able to eat less.
Lastly, you may improve gut health and even feel an increase in your sense of well-being. One small study found that a three-day juice diet altered intestinal microbiota associated with weight loss and also promoted a greater sense of well-being even two weeks after the cleanse.3
Pitfalls for Weight Loss
Many dieters struggle to stick to a juice diet for weight loss. Why? These simple plans are often easy to follow, but they also deny you the pleasure of eating food. Drinking your calories is not nearly as satisfying as eating them. And for many dieters, that challenge is too difficult to maintain for long enough for the diet to work.
Denying yourself food can also increase your stress level. Diet-related stress can cause you to overeat, or worse, binge-eat and ultimately feel worse about your body.4
Even if you are able to manage the stress and the sensory experience of eating isn’t important to you, there are other reasons that a juice diet for weight loss may not work.
Depending on the ingredients of your juice drink, it may contain too much sugar Even if you don't add extra sugar, many sweet fruits contain high levels of sugar in the form of fructose. When you separate fructose from fiber (found in the meat of the fruit) the sugar is digested very quickly. You could end up becoming hungry and eating more a short time later. Consuming too much sugar can increase your risk of insulin resistance which may lead to type 2 diabetes and obesity.5
It's easy to think that you'll consume fewer calories in a glass than you would on a plate, but juice calories can skyrocket when you're throwing gobs of stuff into a machine.
If your juice drink is replacing a meal, then it's reasonable to consume 400 or 500 calories in liquid form. But for many people, the drink is an addition to their meals and snacks. If you're trying to lose weight, those calories could be a problem.
Whole Fruits and Vegetables Are Healthier
The whole forms of fruits and vegetables are good for your body and juicing may mean that you to eat less of them.
When you eat fruits and veggies in their whole form, you gain all of the weight loss benefits of fiber.6 And because whole fruits and vegetables usually take longer to eat, you may end up consuming fewer calories in a sitting. Make sure you know the nutrient content, including grams of sugar and total calorie count, before you decide whether or not your juice drink is healthy.
The Bottom Line
Juicing may help some dieters lose weight, but it's not a sustainable weight loss plan for most people. Before you try any juice diet plan, be sure to check the nutritional value of the drinks you will consume and discuss the plan with your health care professional to make sure that you'll get the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy.