“I’m doing a juice cleanse!!” How many times has someone proudly exclaimed that to you? Probably as often as I get asked if doing a juice cleanse is a good idea from someone looking to lose weight (and fast).
Fans of juicing are passionate to say the least, and credit the habit to detoxing the body, preventing disease and losing weight. Aside from the tempting benefits, there is something appealing about being able to blend up a ton of veggies and get all the vitamins and nutrients you need without having to eat a salad. (No offense salad) So, a juice cleanse must be the best thing ever if you want to be healthy and lose weight, right?
Not exactly. ‘Cleanse’ and ‘detox’ are just fancy words for a quick fix- which is something most people are looking for if turning to juice to lose weight. And you already know that diets don’t work and forming healthy habits is key to long term health and maintaining that hot body. You can’t juice all day, every day, for the rest of your life and expect to be healthy.
Before you do a juice cleanse or detox, you need to know the real benefits of juicing and how to start a juice habit that won’t leave you feeling deprived- or frustrated when you don’t lose weight. So what are they? I’m glad you asked…
The Real Benefits of Juicing
Most research shows that eating 6-8 servings of vegetables and fruits every day is good for your health and has a big impact on lifespan. But most people don’t have time to prepare 2 servings of veggies at every meal, so juicing offers an easy way to guarantee you will reach your daily goal.
Juicing also allows you to absorb the same vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients as eating whole fruits and vegetables. The high water content helps to keep you hydrated, and you can easily add a variety of vegetables to your diet. Practically speaking, its a great way to use up about-to-spoil produce which means less food waste-YAY.
So that’s the good stuff, now let’s clear up some common misconceptions:
Juicing will help detox the body: There is actually no research showing the body needs help from outside sources to detox. Your organs- liver and kidney specifically- and immune system work hard to rid the body of toxins. Since consuming juice requires little in the way of digestion, it is a nice ‘break’ for your system, and many people like to juice as a way to kickstart healthy habits-which is great! Just keep this in mind: you are probably ‘detoxing’ from all the crap food and alcohol that is introduced to your system, so to see any benefit or maintain any weight lost, it’s important to consume real, natural food after your cleanse.
Juice is low calorie/sugar: Juicing is low calorie compared to eating a sugary bowl of cereal but that green stuff you drink is not calorie free. Juice is a very concentrated source of calories. A cup of carrot juice, for instance, is 94 calories and a cup of carrots is just 45 calories. The best way to limit sugar and calories is by consuming a mostly vegetable juice with a single serving of fruit to sweeten it and improve taste (keep reading for my favorite recipe). Also, since you are consuming your food in liquid form, you will not feel as full as eating whole food and can end up consuming more than you mean to.
All juice diet will help you lose weight: While juicing will help you lose weight in the short term, it can mess with your metabolism in the long term. Consuming an all liquid diet essentially lowers your caloric intake which will cause you to lose weight initially. However, when you reintroduce solid foods into your diet, the pounds will quickly pile back on. And most people finishing a grueling 5 or 7 day juice cleanse are so ravenous for food that they consume feast like proportions and undo everything in just a few meals.
Why I love juicing
Now you might think I am against juicing and that is not at all true. I have been juicing for the past few years and I absolutely love it! I have a hard time consuming a variety of veggies and fruit in my on-the-go lifestyle so juicing first thing in the morning is very beneficial for me. I have never done a juice cleanse or consumed an all-liquid diet as a means to lose weight, and I wouldn’t recommend it. The key to staying fit and in shape (which is my job as a working fitness model) is consistency and balance. Drastic or restrictive measures have a way of backfiring and if you can’t eat like that for a long time, I say don’t do it.
Juicing can be a fun and easy healthy habit and if it seems like a chore, I will share some tips and tricks that make it a quick and fun (and affordable) part of your morning routine.
Tips & Tricks for Beginners
It happens to everyone (I think). You get super excited to start juicing, you spend $100 on a great juicer, load up on veggies and fruit, and after a few days it collects dust on your counter. It just feels like so much work…At least you look cool being a juicer-owner when people come over? The key, I have learned (like with any healthy habit) is to make it impossibly easy for yourself so you can stick to it. Here’s some tips so you can avoid the juice drought that most beginners experience:
–Stock up. This may sound obvious, but you will never have juice if you don’t buy things to juice. Find a recipe that is your go-to (I share mine below), nail it, and buy the ingredients every week just like you do chicken and eggs. It will become familiar and you will know exactly what to buy which helps you get into the habit. Speaking of stocking up, check out local farmers market for cheap finds or if you live by a Costco or other bulk grocer, you can find really great deals on vegetables.
–Prepare the veggies first. This one took me a while to figure out. Opening up 7 different bags or containers and trimming and prepping each morning to go in the juicer took so much work. I dreaded it. Then I got in the habit of preparing all the ingredients right when I got home from the grocery store…LIFE CHANGING. And my fridge looks super organized.
Buy gallon or 2 gallon plastic bags and put all the ingredients for one juice in each bag. Put the bags in the fridge and each morning you just have to take out a bag, put it all in the juicer and enjoy. Simple enough, no?
–Save the pulp. Once you are done juicing, wash the juicer immediately. Seriously, don’t wait. It’s much easier to clean when it’s newly used and you can leave all the parts in the sink to dry and put it together when you get home from work. Remember that plastic bag? Empty all the juice pulp into it to repurpose. One of the reasons I would stop juicing for a while is it just felt wasteful to buy all these fruits and vegetables and then only drink the juice. Instead of tossing out all the pulp, put it in the same plastic bag. There are a ton of uses that I’ll share with you below. But first, my favorite detox recipe.
My Ultimate Detox Green Juice
This green juice is my go-to recipe to help get rid of bloating after a big night out, traveling or if you just eat too much! It’s loaded with veggies and the superstar ingredient- dandelion greens- helps restore water balance in the body and fights water retention after a sugar or salt-loaded meal. Try this first thing in the morning (before eating food) along with lots of water, and you will be feeling leaner in no time.
Juice the ingredients in the order listed below:
2-3 handfuls of spinach
1/2 bunch of kale
1/2 bunch of dandelion greens
3-4 stalks of celery
1″ piece of ginger
Extra credit: Add a dash of cayenne pepper or oregano oil to the juice after its made. Cayenne pepper helps fight inflammation and boost immunity. And oregano oil has been touted as a means to fight cold and flus, keep your digestive tract healthy, and soothe problem skin (read more here if your interested).
Press all of the ingredients through a juicer. I recommend getting a medium quality juicer for around $100 bucks, as the super cheap ones will break and give you more headaches than juice. There are great medium priced juicers that perform just as well as the $2000 versions for what you will be using it for. This is the juicer I use and love, going strong for 3 years now with no issues.
What to do with Juice pulp?
While juicing is a great way to absorb all the vitamins and micronutrients, you miss out on all the good fiber. Instead of throwing out the pulp, here are a few of my favorite things to do with it. If you are low on time, you can just throw it in the freezer and use later in smoothies, soups, and even add it to mac and cheese!
Juice Pulp Crackers
Ingredients:2 ½ cups juice pulp
½ cup ground flaxseed
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp curry dash sea salt 1 tbsp lemon juice
Mix all ingredients well, by hand. Add water if needed, it should be malleable but still hold together.
Spread the mixture on a dehydrator tray lined with a Paraflex sheet. Spread to about 1/8 inch thickness. Score the sheet of dough lightly into cracker-sized squares, and put it in the dehydrator at 115 degrees. Dehydrate for about two hours, then gently break the crackers apart and flip them. Dehydrate another two hours or so. Keep checking and flipping until they reach your desired crispiness. Let them stand for 15 minutes and then store in airtight container. If you don’t have a dehydrator, bake them at 150 and watch and flip as needed.
Juice Pulp Muffins
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a mini muffin pan. In a large bowl, add the juicer pulp, making sure to remove any large pieces. Add the honey, coconut oil, vanilla, liquid stevia and coconut milk. Stir to combine. Sift in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix until just combined. The batter will be very thick. Transfer the batter to the mini muffin pan and bake for 10-12 minutes. A knife inserted in the center should come out clean when they’re done. Allow to cool slightly, top with a little coconut butter, and enjoy!
Juice Pulp FrittersIngredients (6-8 patties): 2 cups juice pulp (kale, carrots, chard)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Combine all the ingredients until evenly combined. It will hold together well when formed into patties. Place patties on a greased pan and cook on both sides over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. The patties will hold together but will be soft. It can be crumbled over a salad or eaten in a sandwich.
Happy Juicing! Share your favorite juice recipe in the comments below, love trying new combos!