We all know that liquid lunches are never a good idea! Usually referring to lunches which focus on alcohol, December and January is usually the time of year when another type of liquid lunch is promoted-in the form of juice and smoothie fasting diets.
The rush to ‘detox’ during or after the holidays will see many jump to follow a liquid diet which often claim to clear your body of toxins, and drop a few pounds too.
With so many Americans struggling to get the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables per day, many feel a smoothie or juice will allow them to get their nutrients in an easy way. While it is tempting, the fact is that the body processes juices and smoothies very differently from eating a whole fruit or vegetable.
Most fruit juices have the entire pulp removed. The pulp of the fruit contains the fiber, and removing this means that the remaining liquid is a more concentrated form of sugar. Without fiber to slow it down, the sugar in juice is rapidly absorbed by the body, which puts pressure on the pancreas to release a large amount of insulin to deal with this. The average glass of fruit juice contains around 24g sugar- the same as 6 sugar cubes.
Juices are also an easy way to rack up calories, so it is easy to gain weight from drinking too many of them. It takes three to four oranges to produce one glass of orange juice. Most people would be unable to eat that number of oranges in one sitting, but could drink one glass of orange juice in seconds. Not only that, the lack of fiber in juices mean they do not fill you up the way eating whole fruit does, which means you are likely to eat more at your next meal to compensate. One study which tested this theory asked adults to eat either an apple, applesauce or to drink apple juice shortly before a meal. This study found that those who ate the whole apple before the meal ate fewer calories overall, as the apple filled them up so they ate less at the mealtime. The individuals who drank the juice ate the most calories.
Are smoothies better than juices? In short yes, but it is still preferable to eat the whole fruit.
Smoothies are better than juices, as they retain the pulp. They can also be an excellent way for cancer patients to get in some additional calories, particularly if they are having issues with sore mouth or lack of appetite. That being said, smoothies can also be very high in sugar. A store-bought smoothie can contain almost 60 grams of sugar in a 16-oz bottle. To put this into context, a 12-ounce can of cola contains around 40g of sugar. Not only that, smoothies sold in shops can often be very misleading about their contents-many which claim to be packed full of vegetables are actually mainly fruit juice with only a small amount of other components,.
In summary, smoothies and juices are substances which can be incorporated into an overall healthy diet- just don’t make them the focus!
If you do want to have smoothies as a meal replacement, make them yourself at home, and incorporate a mix of proteins and fats to ensure that the drink is nutritionally balanced. Try our peanut and banana smoothie or our chocolate quinoa smoothie, tasty treats which are nutritionally balanced to avoid excessive sugar highs.