Vegetable juices have become increasingly popular in recent years as a health food and weight loss aid. Drinking vegetable juice could provide nutrients and satisfy hunger while being low in calories. But can drinking vegetable juice really help you lose weight? Here’s a comprehensive look at the evidence.
How Vegetable Juice May Promote Weight Loss
There are several ways that drinking vegetable juice could potentially promote weight loss:
Low in Calories
Vegetable juices are low in calories compared to other drinks. For example, 8 ounces (240 ml) of tomato juice contains around 50 calories, while the same amount of cola has over 100 calories (1, 2). Replacing higher calorie beverages like soda and fruit juice with vegetable juice can reduce overall calorie intake.
High in Nutrients
Vegetable juices provide important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Getting adequate nutrients may help reduce hunger and food cravings. Some of the nutrients in vegetable juice that may promote fullness include:
- Fiber: Soluble fiber absorbs water to form a gel, which slows digestion and promotes fullness (3).
- Protein: Proteins take longer to digest than fats or carbs, keeping you satisfied for longer (4).
- Fat: Small amounts of healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids may increase satiety hormones (5).
Low Energy Density
Vegetable juice has a low energy density, meaning it provides few calories for its weight. Foods low in energy density provide fewer calories per gram than foods high in energy density (6). Eating low energy dense foods can help you feel full on fewer calories.
There are no official recommendations for how much vegetable juice to drink per day for weight loss. However, replacing one meal per day with vegetable juice or drinking 1–2 cups (240–480 ml) of vegetable juice as a snack or part of a meal is generally considered safe and healthy.
It’s important not to go overboard. Vegetable juices still contain calories and sugar, which could hinder weight loss if consumed in excessive amounts.
For the greatest benefits, vegetable juice is best consumed alongside a healthy diet based primarily on whole fruits and vegetables.
The calories and nutrients in vegetable juice can vary based on the types and amounts of vegetables used.
Here is the nutrition information for 1 cup (240 ml) of some popular vegetable juices (7, 8, 9):
|Tomato||41||9 grams||2 grams||0 grams|
|Carrot||52||12 grams||1 gram||0 grams|
|Green vegetable blend||45||9 grams||2 grams||0 grams|
As you can see, vegetable juices are low in calories and fat, with around 5–15 grams of carbs and 1–2 grams of protein per cup (240 ml).
Benefits for Weight Loss
Drinking vegetable juice may have several benefits that could aid weight loss:
Some studies have found that drinking vegetable juice can enhance feelings of fullness and decrease hunger.
In one small 4-week study, 35 overweight people who drank 16 ounces (480 ml) of low sodium vegetable juice as a snack lost 4 pounds (1.8 kg) more than the control group (10).
Another study in 24 obese adults showed that drinking 16 ounces (480 ml) of low sodium vegetable juice significantly reduced hunger levels (11).
Provides Nutrients With Fewer Calories
Vegetable juice is packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, with very little sugar and fat. Replacing higher calorie foods and drinks with vegetable juice may help reduce your overall calorie intake.
For example, a study in 18 people found that consuming a drink made with vegetable juice concentrate significantly increased intake of beta-carotene and vitamin C, while reducing fat intake (12).
Can Increase Vegetable Intake
Many people don’t get enough vegetables per day. Drinking vegetable juice makes it easy to fit more into your diet. One small study gave 51 obese adults either 8 ounces (240 ml) of vegetable juice or vegetables in the form of a soup. Both groups increased their daily vegetable intake from 1 to 2 1/2 cups (71–284 grams) (13).
Consuming more veggies may lead to weight loss over time. One review found that eating around 8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day was associated with the greatest decrease in body weight (14).
Downsides for Weight Loss
Despite the potential benefits, there are some downsides to consider when drinking vegetable juice for weight loss:
May Be High in Sugar
Even 100% vegetable juices contain around 6–8 grams of natural sugars per cup (240 ml), primarily from carrots, beets and other root vegetables (15).
Consuming too much juice could lead to excess calorie and sugar intake, hindering weight loss.
Blending vegetables decreases their fiber content. For example, 120 grams of carrots provides 3 grams of fiber, while 120 ml of carrot juice contains almost no fiber (16, 17).
Fiber promotes fullness and helps feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Increasing fiber intake could be an effective weight loss strategy (18, 19).
May Spike Blood Sugar
Though vegetable juice is much lower in sugar than other types of fruit juice, it can still spike your blood sugar levels when consumed in large amounts.
Drinking vegetable juice could be problematic for people with diabetes or prediabetes trying to manage their blood sugar levels.
Here are some other factors to keep in mind if you’re planning to drink vegetable juice for weight loss:
Juicing Removes Chewing
Juicing extracts the juice from vegetables, leaving behind the pulp and skin. This makes it easier to consume large quantities of veggies.
However, it bypasses the mechanical process of chewing. Chewing sends signals to your body to prepare for digestion and may help reduce subsequent calorie intake (20, 21).
Some vegetables make better choices for juicing than others. Good options for juice include tomato, carrot, beet, cucumber, spinach, Swiss chard and kale.
Starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn are higher in calories. Leafy greens are preferred because they provide more nutrients with fewer calories.
Homemade vs. Store-Bought
Homemade vegetable juices use whole ingredients and avoid additives like sugar and sodium. Pre-made vegetable juices from the store often contain unhealthy additions like added sugars, flavors and preservatives.
If opting for store-bought vegetable juice, be sure to read the label and choose low sodium options without added sugars or sweeteners.
Should You Juice, Blend or Eat Whole Vegetables?
Juicing, blending and eating whole vegetables all have pros and cons. Here’s how they compare:
|Nutrients||Somewhat reduced||Preserved||Completely preserved|
|Fullness||May be lower||May be higher||Highest|
For the best health and weight loss outcomes, a mix of whole vegetables, blended smoothies and the occasional vegetable juice is likely optimal.
Drinking vegetable juice may help you lose weight by increasing vegetable intake and reducing calorie consumption from other foods and drinks.
However, vegetable juice lacks fiber and may contain excess sugar if consumed in high amounts.
For long-lasting weight loss, vegetable juice is best accompanied by an overall healthy diet and active lifestyle.
While juicing can add more veggies to your diet, blending and eating whole vegetables may be healthier long-term options for lasting weight loss.