Does juicing vegetables help lose weight?

Juicing has become a popular way for people to try to lose weight quickly. Proponents claim that juicing allows you to consume more vegetables and extract more nutrients from them. But does juicing vegetables actually help with weight loss?

How Juicing Works

Juicing involves extracting the liquid from fruits and vegetables. This is typically done using a juicer machine that spins and crushes the produce to separate the juice from the pulp. The juice is then consumed, while the fiber-rich pulp is discarded.

Since juice contains little to no fiber, it is much lower in volume compared to the whole fruits and vegetables. This allows you to take in a larger serving of produce in liquid form. For example, you might juice five carrots worth of juice but would be unlikely to eat five whole carrots at once.

Additionally, juicing advocates claim that removing the fiber makes the nutrients easier to absorb. However, research shows that this is not necessarily the case.

Nutrients in Juice vs Whole Produce

While juice contains most of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals (phytonutrients) found in produce, its nutrient profile is altered by the juicing process. Here’s a comparison of nutrients in vegetable juice versus whole vegetables:

Nutrient Juice Whole Produce
Vitamins Similar levels of most vitamins Similar levels of most vitamins
Minerals Similar levels of minerals like potassium, manganese Similar levels of minerals
Fiber Negligible fiber Rich in fiber
Phytonutrients Contains phytonutrients but may be altered by juicing Contains phytonutrients
Protein Very little protein Moderate amounts of protein
Sugar May be high in free sugars like glucose and fructose Contains natural sugars bound to fiber, which slows absorption

As you can see, juicing causes a major loss of fiber, so you miss out on the many health benefits of fiber if you only drink vegetables. Juice can also be high in free sugars, whereas sugars are bound to fiber in whole produce.

Fiber Loss May Negate Benefits

Fiber has many roles in nutrition and health:

  • Slows digestion and absorption to stabilize blood sugar levels
  • Promotes fullness and appetite control
  • Nourishes gut bacteria
  • Reduces cholesterol
  • Facilitates bowel regularity

Without fiber, the sugars and calories from juice can be absorbed very quickly, leading to spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels. This can increase hunger and food intake shortly after drinking sugary juice.

TheLoss of fiber may negate any potential benefits of increased intake of vitamins, minerals and other compounds from juicing.

Juicing Removes Food Bulk

One of the main proposed benefits of juicing for weight loss is that you can consume fewer calories and still get all the nutrients from produce. For example, to get the nutrients in five carrots, you can drink a small glass of carrot juice rather than eating five whole carrots that take up more room in your stomach.

However, removing the bulk and chewing resistance from food is not necessarily a good thing. Whole foods take time to chew and digest, allowing your body and brain to feel full and sense that calories have been consumed. This fullness factor tends to be lacking from liquid foods.

Chewing also stimulates saliva production, which helps break down food during digestion. Skipping the chewing stage can disrupt the normal digestive process.

Juicing Diets May Lack Protein

If you try to juice your way to weight loss, you’ll likely be missing out on high quality protein. Most juicing diets are centered around fruits and non-starchy vegetables, which are poor sources of protein.

Protein is important for maintaining muscle mass during weight loss and keeping you feeling full. Without adequate protein from foods like beans, lentils, eggs or fish, you’re at risk of losing more muscle than fat on a juicing diet.

May Cause an Energy Crash

The rapid rise and fall in blood sugar from drinking sugary juice can lead to rebound hunger and fatigue shortly after ingesting it. This roller coaster effect can leave you feeling tired and ravenous.

Because juice is low in fiber and protein, your blood sugar is likely to bottom out a few hours after drinking it. To keep energy levels stable, it’s better to eat whole vegetables and fruits paired with protein and healthy fats.

Potential Downsides of Juicing Diets

Here are some other potential downsides of relying on juice for weight loss:

  • May lack nutrients like protein, fiber and healthy fats
  • Often high in sugar without the benefits of whole fruit
  • Rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar
  • Can be low in calories yet leave you hungry later
  • Lacks the gut-filling effects of solid food
  • Loss of chewing satisfaction may undermine weight loss

Does Juicing Help Weight Loss?

There is very little quality research on juicing and weight loss specifically. However, a few observational studies have attempted to determine if juice consumption is linked to lower body weight.

One study followed over 13,000 adults for 6 years. At the start, participants who reported consuming fruit and vegetable juice were less likely to be overweight or obese. Yet, over the 6 years, juicing was not associated with greater weight loss compared to not drinking juice.

Another study found that obese adults who drank one serving of fruit or vegetable juice per day did not have a lower risk of obesity over a 12-year period. Yet, the same study did find that replacing one daily serving of juice with whole fruits or vegetables was linked to a 7% lower risk of obesity.

Overall, there is no strong evidence that merely adding juice to your diet aids weight loss. However, eating more fruits and vegetables in place of juice may provide a slight advantage.

Is Juice Better Than Sugary Beverages?

Drinking low-sugar vegetable juice is likely a better choice than drinking sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, sports drinks or fruit punch. But that does not mean juice is a weight loss beverage.

While juice contains beneficial antioxidants, the drawbacks of sugar, lack of protein and missing chewing satisfaction appear to counter any potential benefits for weight control.

Better Alternatives for Weight Loss

Here are healthier alternatives if you’re looking to lose weight:

  • Eat whole fruits and non-starchy vegetables
  • Drink water or unsweetened tea
  • If using juice, opt for low-sugar vegetable juice and small amounts (4–6 oz or less per day)
  • Focus on getting daily protein from plants or animals
  • Incorporate fiber-rich foods like beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains

The Bottom Line

Juicing may help you increase your intake of certain vitamins and antioxidants. However, there is little evidence that juicing is an effective way to lose weight.

Juice diets tend to lack protein, fiber and whole plant bulk that is important for keeping you full and satisfied. The lack of fiber in juice can cause rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar, which may undermine weight loss.

Replacing sugary beverages with vegetable juice may have some benefits. But for weight loss, you’re better off eating whole vegetables and fruits rather than juicing them. Focus on getting protein from plant and animal foods as well as fiber from whole plant foods.

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