Pros and Cons of a Juice Diet

green juice with spinach

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

The juice diet, also known as a juice cleanse, is extremely popular for weight loss, especially among celebrities. But does juicing work? Yes and no.

Juice diet plans that include complicated blends of vegetables and different varieties of fruits and vitamin supplements sound healthy. But if you're trying to lose weight, there are a few things to consider before trying one of these programs.

Is a Juice Diet Good for You?

Juice drinks can be (somewhat) healthy. When you blend your own using fresh fruits and vegetables, you benefit from the wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants contained within the most popular juicing ingredients.

Blueberries, for example, are one ingredient used in many juices and they are high in vitamin C and vitamin K. So, blueberry juice has become a popular drink for people who are looking to boost their intake of these important nutrients.

Mango has plenty of B6 and vitamin A and spinach is very low in calories and a good source of dietary fiber, protein, and vitamins A, C, and E. If you blend your juice with either of these ingredients, you get a boost of these nutrients too.

If you don't typically eat a variety of fruits and vegetables in your regular diet, juicing might be a good way to get the nutrients your body needs. But there are some drawbacks to juicing as well, especially if you juice for the purpose of weight loss.

Benefits for Weight Loss

Many people follow a juice diet for three, five, or even 10 days. If you drink fruit and vegetable juices for several days, you are likely to enjoy at least a few benefits, especially if you don't usually consume these categories of foods.

Increased Motivation

First, you are likely to see weight loss from water. When you decrease the amount of starch you consume, your body sheds water weight. This will show up as loss on the scale and is also likely to give you a boost of motivation for extended dieting.

Supports Eating Less

Reducing your whole food intake can help you shed calories and adjust to smaller food portions. That way, when you do return to a diet that involves eating whole roods, you might be able to eat less.

Improved Gut Health

Lastly, you may improve your gut health and even feel an increase in your sense of well-being. One small study found that a three-day juice diet altered intestinal microbiota associated with weight loss and also promoted a greater sense of well-being even two weeks after the cleanse.

Pitfalls for Weight Loss

Despite these benefits, many dieters struggle to stick to a juice diet for weight loss. Why? There are many reasons.

Based on Denial

These simple plans are often easy to follow but they also deny you the pleasure of eating food. Drinking your calories is not nearly as satisfying as eating them and, for many dieters, that challenge is too difficult to maintain for long enough for the diet to work.

Denying yourself food can also increase your stress levels. Diet-related stress can cause you to overeat, or worse, binge-eat, ultimately causing you to feel worse about your body.

Too Much Sugar

Depending on the ingredients in your juice drink, it may contain too much sugar. Even if you don't add extra sugar, many sweet fruits naturally contain high levels of of the sweet stuff in the form of fructose.

When you separate fructose from fiber (which is found in the meat of the fruit), the sugar is digested very quickly. This makes you feel hungry faster. Consuming too much sugar can also increase your risk of insulin resistance which may lead to type 2 diabetes and obesity.

High in Calories

It's easy to think that you'll consume fewer calories in a glass than you would on a plate. However, juice calories can easily skyrocket when you're throwing gobs of stuff into the machine.

If your juice drink is replacing a meal, then it's reasonable to consume 400 or 500 calories in liquid form. But for many people, the drink is an addition to their meals and snacks. If you're trying to lose weight, those extra calories could be a problem.

Fewer Whole Foods

When you eat fruits and veggies in their whole form, you gain all of the weight loss benefits of fiber. And because whole fruits and vegetables usually take longer to eat, you may end up consuming fewer calories in a sitting. 

Therefore, if you consume all (or almost all) of these food sources in juice form, you are missing the fiber while increasing the risk that you'll exceed your recommended daily calorie intake.

The Bottom Line

Juicing may help some dieters lose weight, but it's not a sustainable weight loss plan for most people. Before you try any juice diet plan, be sure to check the nutritional value of the drinks you will consume.

Also, discuss the plan with your health care professional to make sure it provides the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy.

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Article Sources
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