Juicing has become a popular way for people to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables. Many do it to lose weight or ‘detox’. However, some find that they actually gain weight when they start juicing. This can be surprising and discouraging if weight loss is the goal.
Potential reasons for weight gain with juicing
There are a few potential reasons why someone may gain weight when they start juicing:
Increased calorie intake
Juice made from fruits and vegetables contains calories like any other food or beverage. Some juices, especially fruit juices, can be high in natural sugars and calories. For example:
|Juice (1 cup)||Calories|
It’s easy to consume a lot of extra calories from juice, especially if drinking large volumes. This can lead to weight gain over time.
Although juice contains vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, the fiber has been removed. Fiber is filling and helps make you feel satisfied. Juice by itself doesn’t tend to fill you up.
This means juice drinkers may feel hungry sooner than if they ate the whole fruits and veggies. The lack of fullness can lead to increased calorie consumption from other foods, potentially leading to weight gain.
Blood sugar effects
Since juice spikes blood sugar quickly without the fiber found in whole fruits and vegetables, it can cause your blood sugar to crash soon after. This can increase hunger and cravings for sugary foods, leading to overeating.
Frequent blood sugar crashes and spikes from drinking sweet juice can also potentially increase insulin resistance over time. This may result in weight gain around the belly.
Increased oxidative stress
Juicing causes fruits and veggies to be exposed to air, starting oxidation. This can damage nutrients and release free radicals. Some research shows increased oxidative stress may be linked to weight gain and obesity.
Tips to avoid weight gain when juicing
If you want to incorporate juicing into your diet without gaining weight, here are some tips:
Drink juice in moderation
Limit juice portions to about 1 cup per day. You can dilute it with water or club soda to make it last longer. Drinking juice in excess will increase your calorie intake, potentially leading to weight gain over time.
Avoid juicing too many high-sugar fruits
When making juice at home, use more non-starchy veggies than fruits, especially high-sugar fruits like grapes, mangos, bananas and apples. Too much fruit juice spikes blood sugar.
Include healthy fats and protein
Add healthy fats like avocado, nut butters, or seeds to your juice. Including protein from Greek yogurt, whey powder, or nut milks can also help increase fullness.
Drink juice with meals
Consuming juice alongside balanced meals can help control hunger and blood sugar spikes that lead to overeating later. Avoid drinking juice by itself between meals.
Include pulp and skin
Try blending juice rather than straining it to keep some fiber from pulp and peel. The fiber will help fill you up.
Be aware of hunger cues and stop eating when full. Juicing can reduce your natural ability to feel satisfied, so avoid mindless overeating when having juice.
Exercise portion control
Measure juice servings rather than eyeballing. It’s easy to overpour when free pouring, resulting in excess calories.
Consider preparations that maximize nutrients
Some preparation methods may preserve more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than others. For example, a cold-press juicer grinds produce into micro-sized particles, then presses the juice out while avoiding heat buildup that can destroy nutrients.
Other drawbacks of juicing
There are a few other potential downsides of juicing to keep in mind:
May be low in protein
Most juice recipes lack adequate protein for meals or snacks. Adding Greek yogurt, nut butter, nuts, seeds, or protein powder can help increase protein intake.
Juicing over the long term could potentially lead to deficiencies in important nutrients like protein, fiber, iron, zinc, folate, vitamin B12 and more. Keep intake moderate and vary whole foods.
Juicing requires a lot of produce, which can get expensive. Economical juicing tips include buying in-season produce and frozen fruits/veggies when fresh are costly.
The leftover pulp from juicing is very perishable and often discarded. Using pulp in recipes when possible, composting, and moderating portions can help reduce waste.
Juicing preparation and clean-up can be time consuming, especially with a slow juicer. Consider shortcuts like prepping produce the night before and freezing juice in batches.
The bottom line
Juicing can support health when done right, but excessive intake may lead to weight gain from increased calories, blood sugar spikes, and lack of fullness. Keep portions moderate, add protein and healthy fats, and juice as part of a balanced diet to reap benefits without weight gain.