By functional medicine dietitian Katherine Wohl, RD, LD
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Overindulging during the holidays or on vacation can make us feel like turning to something drastic to make up for less-than-healthy choices — like a juice cleanse. However, I’ve often seen this backfire.
Juice cleanses typically involve weaning yourself from solid food and consuming only liquids made from fresh-pressed fruit and vegetables, for anywhere from a few days to several weeks. The theory is this can help detoxify the body, support digestion and jumpstart weight loss.
Isn’t fresh-pressed juice nutritious?
While fruits and vegetables are rich in phytonutrients, juices offer little else nutritionally and are often very high in sugar. Excess sugar — even when it is naturally occurring — is difficult for our bodies to metabolize and can end up being stored as fat.
Relying on juices that are stripped of fiber — and lacking the protein and fat to balance out the carbohydrates — can send your blood sugar soaring, only to crash soon after. (And your energy levels along with it.) This can lead to food cravings, overeating and eventual weight gain.
Also, your body needs protein, fat and fiber to function properly in many different ways.
It’s better to incorporate phytonutrient-rich veggies and fruit into a nutrient-dense soup or smoothie that also contains protein, fat and fiber.
So should you avoid all juice?
You don’t have to eliminate all juice. If getting a phytonutrient boost from the occasional fresh-pressed juice as part of a whole foods diet makes you feel good, then go for it!
(To keep the sugar content low, I would lean toward recipes that are almost all vegetables, with very little fruit.)
To promote weight loss, center your diet around good-quality whole foods, and remove foods that are highly processed and high in sugar.
The right balance of quality protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates will balance your blood sugar, reduce your food cravings, and control your hunger and satiety hormones.
Not only will you see sustained weight loss, but you will also feel good!