Does Juice Really Sabotage Your Weight Loss Success?
By Michele Lubin, MS RD CDN
If you’re a daily juice drinker, that seemingly innocent glass of liquid may be a contributing factor in sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
Juice can provide some important vitamins and minerals and some store-bought juices are fortified with bone-building calcium, too. A glass of fresh orange or grapefruit juice in the morning can deliver a healthy dose of vitamin C and potassium, which can be especially helpful if you tend to forgo fruit. However, fruit juice is still a concentrated source of sugar and calories, which can be problematic for those watching their weight. Also, juicing fruit results in the loss of many important vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Juice versus Whole Fruit
Juice: one 8-ounce cup of fresh orange juice has 21 grams of sugar and 112 calories
Whole Fruit: one medium orange has 12 grams of sugar and only 62 calories
Juice: a cup of cranberry juice has 28 grams of sugar and 110 calories
Whole Fruit: a cup of whole cranberries has only 4 grams of sugar and 46 calories.
Fruit juice also lacks the fiber found in whole fruit, which means we not only miss getting the health benefits of fiber -- which include its ability to lower cholesterol and help us feel full -- we experience a more rapid rise in blood sugar after consuming juice, since fiber slows the entry of sugar into the bloodstream.
Find Your Best Juice Options
If you do decide to go for the juice in small quantities, look for brands containing 100% fruit juice with no added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Technically, only 100% juice can be called "juice”. Drinks diluted to less than 100% juice must have the word “juice” qualified with a term such as “beverage”, “drink,” or “cocktail”. These may be a lower-calorie version of juice but contain artificial sweeteners. For example, Minute Maid’s light orange juice drink contains less than half the calories and sugar as the brand's 100% orange juice, but contains artificial sweeteners. You might be better off opting for the pure juice version and consume a 4-ounce serving for almost the same calories and sugar.
DIY: Do It Yourself
If you want to make your own smoothie, keep it to one piece or cup of fruit and then focus on including water-rich, low-calorie veggies like cucumber, celery, romaine, spinach, kale. A homemade smoothie’s calories can become out of control when too many fruits are added in and sweeteners like honey.
The Bottom Line?
Fruit juice just isn’t as nutritious as fresh fruit, but it can be a healthy part of your diet, if it's consumed in small portions. If you enjoy juice, go for the real thing, and limit yourself to one 4-ounce glass per day to limit calories and sugars. Better yet, eat a whole fruit instead for fewer calories, more vitamins, minerals and fiber.