Juices vs Smoothies

Juices vs. Smoothies: Is one better for your health?

We all know that eating plenty of fruit and veg is good for us.  There’s no denying that we feel better for it (and a little bit self-satisfied too!).  And with the growing trend for juices and smoothies in recent years, we’re now drinking our ‘5-a-day’ as well.  Juice and smoothie bars have popped up everywhere and social media is brimming with recipes for detox juices and weight loss smoothies – but are these drinks actually good for our health or for weight loss?

Ten is the new five!

There has been a great deal of research in recent years to support the claim that a diet rich in fruit and veg may help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer and also support blood sugar balance and weight management.

For years we’ve been told to eat five portions of fruit and veg each day – but that can be a challenge, even when you like vegetables.  And actually the latest reports suggest that we should be eating ten portions a day to stay healthy for longer, with most of them coming from veg not fruit.  Most people are way off that figure, so I always encourage my clients to build up slowly.  Going straight from 2 or 3 portions a day to 10 won’t make for a happy tummy, but it is possible to reach that target with a little planning.

Breakfast is very often the meal that includes zero fruit or veg (strawberry jam doesn’t count!) or it gets skipped altogether.  Incorporating juices and smoothies into your morning routine is a great way to get at least two portions under your belt (quite literally!) early on in the day.  But they each come with their own pros and cons – especially if weight loss is your goal.  Read on for the lowdown on both from a nutritionist’s perspective.

The lowdown on smoothies

When you make a smoothie, the fruit and veg, and anything else you add, is whizzed up in a blender.  The juice and the pulp go in.  This means that smoothies contain fibre.

Fibre is good for you for so many reasons.  It’s great for the digestive tract, helping to bulk out stools and keep you ‘regular’.  When it comes to weight loss, fibre is super helpful.  It slows down the absorption of sugar into the body, meaning that fruit and sugar-rich vegetables like beetroot and carrots are less likely to give you a blood sugar spike – ­albeit a natural one.

Dietary fibre also activates a few digestive hormones that are really helpful in weight loss – peptide YY (PYY), cholecystokinin (CKK) and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), in case you’re wondering!  These are appetite suppressors, meaning you’ll naturally want to eat less the more veg you consume.  Fibre also decreases levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, and increases leptin, the hormone that tells your body you’re full.

So if weight loss is your goal, or if you’re short on time, then a fibre-packed, fruit and veg smoothie is your friend.  It can serve as a meal replacement if you’re smart about what you add in (breakfast would be the perfect example).

If you combine fruit and veg with a healthy source of protein, such as Greek yoghurt and a handful of nuts and seeds, you will have a healthy, nutritious and filling meal to take with you on the go.  You could even add a good quality protein powder for an extra boost.

If your idea of the perfect smoothie is a ton of fruit and some liquid ... well, that’s a sugar bomb waiting to happen.  It’s going to spike your blood sugar and that leads to a whole raft of imbalances.  Plus, if consumed too frequently, this could have you piling on the pounds.

The lowdown on juices

When you juice, the juicer extracts the water and nutrients from whatever fruit and veg you feed into it, leaving behind the pulp.  Many juicers will also have a filter attachment, so you can remove even more ‘bits’ for an extra smooth juice.  Juices, therefore, contain very little fibre. There are pros and cons.

On the plus side, the lack of fibre means juices provide an almost immediate energy boost.  The bulk of the vitamins and minerals found within a fruit are typically in the juice rather than the fibrous pulp.  And without the fibre, the nutrients can be absorbed into the body very quickly.

Additionally, the digestive system doesn’t have to work hard to process what you’re consuming – this can be helpful if your digestion has been under a lot of stress and needs some repair and recovery time.  And as an extra bonus, juicing allows you to take in a far greater variety of nutrients from leafy greens and vegetables you wouldn’t normally eat in such quantity if they were served to you on a plate – like kale and wheatgrass!  Typically, juices (rather than smoothies) are a great way to detox.

On the other hand, the lack of fibre makes juices less filling than smoothies (or whole fruit) so it’s easy to knock back a large glassful without thinking.  And if they’re mainly fruit or high sugar veg, you’re more likely to get a blood sugar spike.  Be especially aware that some commercial fresh juices contain as much, or even more sugar than fizzy drinks.  A study in 2014 found that, on average, fruit juices contain 45.5 grams of fructose per litre – not far off the average of 50 grams per litre in fizzy drinks.

As well as missing out on the fibre, you may also miss out on some of the powerful polyphenols and antioxidants found in the skins of fruits and vegetables that may not get extracted with juicing.

So which is better?

That really depends on your health goal.

Juicing offers the possibility of getting in a greater concentration of nutrients, increasing your fruit and vegetable consumption, and possibly making it easier on your tummy if you have a hard time digesting the fibre in vegetables.

On the other hand, fibre is super important in your diet, and in juices you are missing out – plus you could also be losing other important elements like antioxidants.

For weight loss, the added fibre is a huge bonus for balancing your blood sugar levels.  Smoothies provide this.  They also bring the possibility of adding other beneficial ingredients, like collagen (for arthritis suffers), protein powders, prebiotics, nuts or seeds.

Ultimately, you need to consume more fruit and veg than you are currently eating.  Both smoothies and juices give you options so both have a place in your diet.

Juice recipes

Rinse all the ingredients and cut them into smaller pieces so they fit through the juicer chute.  

Green juice

3 large handfuls spinach

1 handful kale

2 green apples

4 celery stalks

½ orange peeled

½ lemon peeled

2-3cm fresh ginger

 

Green goddess

3 large handfuls spinach

½ cup parsley

2 pears

6 celery stalks

½ lemon peeled

 

Liver cleanse

3 beet leaves (or a small handful of spinach)

1 beetroot

1 apple

3 carrots

2 stalk celery

2-3cm fresh ginger

Smoothie recipes

Blend the leaves with some of the liquid (water or nut milk) to start with, then add the remaining ingredients and increase liquid to desired consistency.

Green mango

1 large handful fresh spinach

200ml coconut water or almond milk

½ ripe pear, cored

60g frozen mango

¼ avocado

2 tbsp hemp seeds (blend in or sprinkle on top)

 

Pineapple zinger

1 large handful fresh kale (remove hard stems)

200 ml coconut water

½ cucumber peeled

½ green apple, cored

60g pineapple, frozen

¼ avocado

1 scoop plain protein powder (Pulsin Pea Protein)

1.5cm fresh ginger

 

Creamy Chocolate and banana

1 large handful fresh spinach

250ml almond milk

½ banana, frozen

½ avocado

1 tbsp almond butter

1 tbsp cacao powder

½ tsp vanilla extract

If you’d like support to change your diet habits or with any of your health concerns book a FREE 30 minute consultation and we can discuss how I can help

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