It’s trendy. It’s full of phytonutrients. And it’s probably a waste of money.
Juicing has been a health nut hobby horse since Jack Lalane introduced it in the 70s. With the recent upswing in “detoxing,” it’s come to the forefront again as a major component in the battle against everything from the common cold to obesity to cancer. But does it actually work?
By breaking down the hard-to-digest cellulose fibre, and then removing it completely, the idea is that you’re left with only the nutrients and none of the bulk. This way, you can ingest more fruits and vegetables than you would normally be able to eat.
The issue with juicing — the practice of extracting only the liquids from fruits and vegetables — is that it might not have any advantages over simply eating the food. The liquid from those foods consists primarily of water and sugars. If you’re concerned about sugar consumption, keep in mind that a glass of orange juice contains only the water and sugar from six oranges. Would you eat six oranges? Probably not. But you’re getting those calories…just minus the fibre. It takes a lot of fruit and vegetables to get an average glass of juice, and throwing away the bulk of the product is expensive and potentially very wasteful.
In fact, fibre is one of the main reasons we eat vegetables in the first place. While food guides have a fairly high number of servings recommended per day (8-10 servings, according to Canada’s Food Guide), diet and fitness regimes recommend even more. Some don’t even place a limit on vegetables, preferring not to count their calories in daily totals. But it can be hard to eat that much fibrous vegetable material.
So juicing is out, and eating tons of veggies is hard. What’s the solution?
A smoothie, obviously.
This was something I got from one of my coaches; Ryan Faehnle; as part of my weight loss regimen. I dubbed it “Ryan’s Blended Vegetable Horror Show,” and he described it as follows:
2-3x per day between meals, make a blender shake with water and as many veggies as you can cram into the blender. Spinach, kale, peppers, leeks, swiss chard, celery, cucumber, etc. For the leafy greens, I wash them, dry them and put them in a sealed bag in the freezer and they act like veggie ice chips and blend much easier. It will be really hard to stomach, but you have to chug it like a champ! The hardest part is arguably continuing to eat veggies with your meals when you’re quite sick of greens!
It’s important that you don’t juice the veggies, but rather blend them so that you get all of the fiber.
You will have some interesting bowel movements with this as you will be getting rid of lots of toxins, but after a few days, you’ll notice that you look much leaner and you’ll have tons of energy. It takes discipline and it sucks at times, but it works!
OK, I don’t truck with “toxins,” but it definitely does work. And Amanda and I started doing a variation of this as a DAILY drink. While the original plan didn’t have any fruit added, we started adding some just to take the edge off the bitterness of the vegetables.
So, fair warning: if you’re not used to this level of vegetable intrusion it will be hard to swallow at first. It’s a heavy drink, but it packs an energetic punch you won’t get anywhere else in your diet. You might get the runs at first, so start with mixing a batch and having only a small glass once or twice a day to judge your tolerance. But once you get used to it, I can pretty much guarantee you’re going to wonder how you ever got by without it.
Some links to product recommendations contain affiliate links. You?re under no obligation to order from them, but it helps us if you do!!
In a blender (we like the Vitamix, both for its capacity and its ability to liquify anything), add two tablespoons of frozen orange juice concentrate. Yes, straight out of the can.
Add in (in approximately this order, just to get the tough stuff nearest the blades):
- a big handful of baby carrots (or about a cup and a half of diced carrot)
- half a bell pepper (any colour), roughly chopped
- two big handfuls of baby spinach
- two medium tomatoes, chopped up
- half a large navel orange
- about 1/3 of a large English cucumber, chopped, skin on
- 2 packets (or two spoonfuls) of Truvia
Add 16oz of cold water, and top up with ice.
Start slow and gradually increase the blender speed until it sucks the ice down from the top, then blend everything until it’s liquified.
Think of it as a big green smoothie. This one makes enough for about four full 12oz glasses. Transfer it to a juice jug to store in the fridge for up to a few days, but because the fibre has separated from the water you will need to stir it if it sits for a while.