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Is juicing OK on keto?

The ketogenic diet has become one of the most popular diets in recent years. This very low-carb, high-fat diet can provide major weight loss benefits and improve health. However, some wonder if juicing fits into a keto lifestyle.

This article takes an in-depth look at juicing on the ketogenic diet and provides tips on how to incorporate healthy juices without kicking yourself out of ketosis.

What is Juicing?

Juicing involves extracting the nutritious liquid from fruits and vegetables. This liquid contains most of the vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals from the produce. However, the fiber is removed in the process.

This makes juicing different from blending, where the whole fruit or vegetable is used to make a smoothie containing all of the fiber.

Fans of juicing note that it may be easier for your body to absorb the nutrients from liquid juice rather than solid produce.

Benefits of Juicing

Drinking vegetable and fruit juices has been associated with several health benefits:

  • Increased vegetable intake: Juicing helps some people eat more vegetables by concentrating them into an easy-to-drink beverage.
  • Higher antioxidant intake: Antioxidants help fight damage caused by free radicals, which are associated with conditions like heart disease, cancer and mental decline.
  • Potential cancer-fighting effects: Some studies suggest that drinking vegetable and fruit juices may reduce cancer risk, although more research is needed.
  • Lower blood pressure: Drinking beetroot and other vegetable juices has been shown to reduce blood pressure in some studies.
  • Improved exercise performance: Athletes sometimes drink beetroot juice to enhance performance.

However, there are also some downsides. Since juicing removes fiber, drinking large amounts can impact bowel function. Juices are also not as filling as solid produce and contain less protein.

Is Juicing Allowed on a Ketogenic Diet?

The ketogenic diet aims to get your body into a metabolic state called ketosis. This is when your body becomes very efficient at burning fat for energy instead of carbs.

It does this by restricting carb intake to 20–50 grams per day. This low-carb intake helps reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, shifting the body into ketosis.

Since most fruits and vegetables are naturally higher in carbs, juicing them makes their carb content even more concentrated. Drinking fruit and vegetable juices could easily cause your carb intake to skyrocket.

For example, while an orange contains about 15 grams of carbs, orange juice has around 25 grams in just half a cup (120 ml).

Unfortunately, this means that most standard juicing recipes cannot fit into a ketogenic lifestyle. They can quickly max out your daily carb allowance in one drink.

Tips for Juicing on Keto

While typical juicing recipes won’t work on keto, there are still ways to enjoy juices without getting kicked out of ketosis.

The key is to follow a modified approach that involves using low-carb vegetables as the base of your juice:

Focus on Low-Carb Vegetables

Stay away from high-carb fruits and vegetables like oranges, apples, carrots and beets. Aim to make green juices using mostly low-carb vegetables:

Low-Carb Vegetables for Juicing Net Carbs per 1 Cup (240 ml)
Cucumbers 3 grams
Celery 3 grams
Spinach 1 gram
Kale 5 grams
Swiss chard 1 gram
Broccoli 4 grams

Add Healthy Fats

Since juices have fewer calories than solid produce, adding some healthy fats can help create a more filling beverage:

  • Coconut oil or MCT oil
  • Olive oil or avocado oil
  • Almond butter, cashew butter or tahini
  • Fresh avocado or avocado slices
  • Chia seeds or flaxseeds
  • Coconut flakes

Protein is a Plus

Adding protein can also help turn your juice into a balanced meal replacement. Some options include:

  • Collagen powder
  • Hemp hearts
  • Chia seeds or flaxseeds
  • Almond butter, cashew butter or tahini
  • Protein powder

Flavor It Up

Don’t be afraid to add spices, extracts or herbs to jazz up the flavor of low-carb vegetable juices:

  • Fresh mint, basil, parsley or cilantro
  • Lemon or lime juice
  • Vanilla or almond extract
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger
  • Cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes

Go Easy on Fruit Juices

If you want to add a small amount of fruit, focus on fruits that are lower in carbs, such as:

  • 1/2 lemon or lime: About 1 gram of net carbs
  • 1/4 cup berries: Around 3 grams of net carbs
  • 1/4 green apple: Approximately 5 grams of net carbs

However, it’s best to keep fruit juices to an absolute minimum to avoid excessive carbs.

Juice Fasting on Keto

Juice fasts involve drinking only juices for a period of time. They should be avoided on keto because they provide very few calories and nutrients:

  • May cause energy crashes and dizziness.
  • Don’t provide enough protein or fat.
  • Contain too many carbs from fruits and vegetables.
  • Lack fiber and are not very filling.

For health and performance, keto requires eating whole foods that provide adequate protein, fat and other nutrients.

Potential Problems With Juicing

There are some potential downsides to juicing that need to be considered:

Blood Sugar Spikes

The juicing process removes fiber from fruits and vegetables. Fiber helps blunt the blood sugar-raising effects of carbs.

Without fiber, juice is absorbed into your bloodstream rapidly. This can lead to blood sugar spikes, especially if drinking high-carb fruit juices.

Rapid Calorie Intake

When you drink juices, it’s easy to consume a large number of liquid calories very quickly. Additionally, juices do not trigger feelings of fullness like solid food does.

For these reasons, regularly replacing meals with juices can lead to excessive calorie intake and weight gain over time.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and plant compounds that may help fight disease. However, juice fasts lasting more than a few days can result in nutrient deficiencies.

Additionally, juices lack protein and fiber, which help fight hunger and give the body important building blocks. Protein in particular is important on keto for maintaining muscle mass as fewer carbs are eaten.

Dental Health

Sipping juice throughout the day bathes teeth in sugars, which promotes tooth decay.

What’s more, lack of fiber removes the need for thorough chewing. As a result, flow of saliva decreases, reducing the mouth’s ability to fight bacteria and clean the teeth.

Safety and Side Effects

Juicing is generally safe if you vary your produce and minimize high-carb ingredients. However, drinking vegetable juice in excess may not be wise.

Too much vitamin A from carotenoid-rich vegetables like carrots may cause skin color changes, liver toxicity and bone health issues. Adding 1/4 teaspoon of olive or coconut oil to vegetable juices can help your body absorb carotenoids.

If you have kidney problems, you may need to limit oxalate-rich choices like spinach and beet greens. Talk to your doctor about what’s right for you.

In addition, those taking blood thinners like Coumadin should consult their healthcare provider prior to incorporating new foods into the diet.

Take Home Message

Standard juicing uses too many fruits and high-carb vegetables to fit into a keto lifestyle. However, green juices made mostly from low-carb vegetables can definitely be included in moderation.

The key is to avoid spiking your blood sugar by drinking high-carb fruit juices. Focus on juicing low-carb veggies instead.

With the right ingredients and precautions, juicing can be a fresh way to increase antioxidant intake and squeeze extra nutrients into your keto diet.