Juicing is a popular method to lose weight, and it is marketed all over the internet as a healthy, effective and quick way to lose weight. Juicing diets are all over the place, and are growing in popularity, but are they good? One of our readers has tried the juicing diet for 10 days to see how he gets on with it, and I’ll weigh up the pro and cons of juicing, and determine how effective it really is.
What is Juicing?
Juicing diets are one of many fad diets which promise weight loss, and this is achieved by replacing all of your regular meals with home-made fruit/veg juices. Juicers are different from blenders because they remove all the pulp/ pith from the fruits/ vegetables, which makes a smooth and thin juice (think apple juice), whereas a blender will make a think and stodgy smoothie. A typical juicing recipe is:
- 2 Medium apples
- 4 Stalks of celery
- 1 Whole cucumber
- 1 Inch of ginger root
- 6 Leaves of kale
- 1/2 Lemon
The juice recipes don’t have to be this complicated, and you can just have 1 or 2 types of fruit/ veg, but generally, its best (for flavour and nutrition) to have a variety.
All the ingredients listed above will come to just over 200kcals, and this is pretty typical of a juice meal. This means that throughout the day you will consume between 500-700kcals – which is a massive calorie deficit for anyone. It is this calorie deficit which causes you to lose weight so rapidly; but is this healthy, does it work, and what are the draw backs?
10 day juice diary
One of our esteemed readers has kindly volunteered to do a 10 day juice video diary for us to see if it works, how much weight he lost and how it felt. You can view day 1 of the diary below, and follow the other days on YouTube.
Pros of Juicing
Weight loss – Both from Simons experience, and the 1000’s of other people who have done this diet, it is quite clear that if you stick to it, you can lose a dramatic amount of weight (1lb a day isn’t uncommon). You could argue that this amount of weight lost in such a short period of time is bad, and in some respects it is. However, as this diet is primarily done to lose weight, and people will go to some strange and extremely unhealthy lengths to lose weight, this is comparatively healthy, so I’ve put it as a pro.
High micro-nutrients – I’m a big believer that almost everyone in the Western world could do with some more veggies in their diet, and even the recommended 5-a-day is too little (which many people struggle with as it is). This diet addresses this nutritional shortfall, and although it by no means covers all your nutritional requirements, it is much better than other massive calorie deficit diet such as the ‘cookie diet‘.
Insignificant insulin influence – Removing the fibre/ pith from the fruits/ veggies will mean that blood sugars (and so insulin) are spiked more than if you were to eat the whole fruits, but the difference is insignificant.
Can result in better health – Although this kind of rapid weight loss might not be the healthiest thing to do, if you are able to keep the weight off, and maintain a healthy body fat percentage you will enjoy a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and of course, obesity.
Short period of time – 10 days of juicing isn’t very long in the scheme of things, and so the amount of damage you can do to your body in this period of time is naturally limited. A lot of diets will cover around a month, which means that any nutritional shortfalls of the diet will be much more serious than juicing for 10 days.
Cons of juicing
Lack of fibre – By removing the fibre from the fruits and vegetables, you are removing lots of beneficial phenolic compounds, which is a shame as they have so many health benefits. The lack of fibre will also impact the microflora negativity as they love to eat fibre from fruits/ veggies, and (as Simon discovered) slows down your bowel movements.
Mood/ cravings – It is inevitable that when you undertake such a dramatic diet change, with such a dramatic calorie deficit, you will experience some serious mood swings. This hit Simon on day 3 in a big way, but it looked like he missed food throughout the 10 days.
Risk of Rebound – With these massive calorie deficit diets, a common problem is weight rebound (often called weight yo-yo-ing). As Simon has said, he is going to celebrate the end of the juicing diet with a big juicy burger, which is always ok; treats are a good thing, but how will this change his normal diet? Will he end up putting back on the weight again, only to do a juice diet again in a few months? This calorie deficit will have lowered his metabolism, which means that if he reverts back to his regular diet the body fat could pile back on. It will take some more permanent changes to maintain the weight lost.
Other information about the nutrition of juicing
Fats – Although this diet is really low if fats, the quality of the fats will be quite high. The kale in the above recipe for example, will provide 250mg of omega-3 fats alone (mostly ALA). If you are concerned about the amount of healthy fats though, you can always look into supplementing the juicing diet with an fat supplement such as flaxseed oil or cod liver oil.
Protein – This diet also lacks protein, so anyone who likes the gym will really notice a reduction in muscle recovery. This really isn’t a diet for someone wanting to build muscle, but if you are concerned about your muscle mass, the 10 days of this diet will have little effect on them. Muscles may appear to deflate, but this is most likely to be glycogen depletion, and is easily recovered by returning to a normal diet. If you are concerned though, adding a scoop or 2 of low carbohydrate protein in your morning shake can help, and also will increase satiety.
Final thoughts on juicing
A juicing diet will help you lose weight, there is no doubt about that. Is it healthy? – not really, but compared to other extremely low calorie diets, a juicing diet isn’t so bad. There are of course healthy ways and unhealthy ways to do this diet. For example, just having a glass of orange juice to replace a meal is much less healthy than the example recipe above, for a number of reasons. So how healthy this diet is largely depends on how you, the dieter, decides to do this diet.
The main problem with these calorie deficit diets is the risk of rebounding from the slowed down metabolism and not changing the regular diet. I would suggest that a 10 a juice is suitable to kick-start your weight loss, but after that 10 days you need to change what you call your ‘normal diet’. Going back to the diet which made you fat in the first place isn’t going to work.
If you have any specific questions about juicing, or have juiced yourself, please let us know about your experiences in the comments.