Juicing vs Smoothies

Juicing vs Smoothies: What’s Really the Best Option

You can toss the words “juicing” and “smoothies” into your favorite search engine and you’ll get a myriad of results with varied health benefits or reason why you shouldn’t try any of these.  There are some truths out there and also some pieces most never really think about.

In this blog, we’ll chat about the main differences between smoothies and juices, pros and cons of both, and how they stack up the whole foods.

Let’s get to it!

Food First

Nothing replaces food in its whole form…not even supplements.  When we eat food in its natural form, we are getting a variety of nutrients and fiber.  Unaltered food will always be your best bet.  When we alter the form, and when we cook it for that matter, we alter the nutrient profile of that food.  Sometimes for the better and sometimes not. 

The main difference between juices and smoothies is fiber.  Smoothies are made in a blender and juices are made with a juicer.  Juicing removes the fiber and smoothies don’t.  That’s it.  One is not better for weight loss.  Overall, deciding on juicing or smoothies really depends on your overall goals. 

Smoothies

Smoothies seem to be all the rage.  You can get them made at a lot of establishments today.  I think the big appeal is that they are easy to throw together and can be a meal in a glass.  I am a fan of smoothies with some cautions.  Let’s first look at the pros and cons of smoothies:

Pros:
  • They are predigested meaning the foods are already partially broken down.  If you have digestion and absorption issues, this may be beneficial for you.
  • It’s an easy way to get in your dark leafy greens each day.
  • If you make it with water, it’ll count towards your daily water intake.       
  • Smoothies maintain their fiber, which is important for digestion, healthy colon, and a healthy heart.
  • By adding in protein and fat, you can have a meal in a glass.
Cons:
  • If you have digestive issues, sometimes a large influx of liquid and nutrients can upset the gut more. 
  • They can be high in calories if you’re not watching what you’re putting in them.
  • There is little chewing action involved.  Saliva, typically stimulated by chewing, contains important digestive enzymes.

They aren’t for everyone.  I like to have clients that are lacking in nutrients or vegetables add in a smoothie daily.  Also note, not all smoothies you buy at these shops are the healthiest around.  The best smoothie is one made in your kitchen.

My go-to smoothie recipe:

1 cup unsweetened nut milk or water

2 large handfuls spinach

½ banana

½ cup frozen berries

2 tbsp ground flaxseed

1 scoop superfood greens

Protein powder (choose your favorite)

Toss everything in the blender and drink!

Juices

There’s a lot out there floating around the net on the benefits of juicing.  Something important to remember is that there’s very few studies on juicing.  So, a lot of the information is anecdotal in nature or supposed benefits.  Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pros:
  • Possible better absorption of nutrients due to limited digestion.
  • Excellent for those with difficulties swallowing or consuming even small amounts of food. 
  • Certain veggie juice can improve athletic performance (beet juice).
Cons:
  • They lack fiber to slow digestion and they are high in sugar.  Sugar crossing the teeth repeatedly can cause tooth decay. 
  • It removes the process of chewing.  Digestion starts in the mouth and chewing releases saliva which carries digestive enzymes needed to properly breakdown and absorb foods. 
  • Store bought juices are pasteurized.  While pasteurization kills pathogens that could be harmful, it can also reduce the nutrient profile of the juice.
  • At home juices can lose nutrients if left too long.  The longer nutrients are exposed to air, the more become oxidized and are less available.  So if you’re going to drink a juice, do it soon after you make it.
  • They lack proteins and fats unless you add them to the juice after the fact.

One major note of caution when it comes to juices is that because they lack all fiber, they will spike blood sugar in the body pretty quickly.  While to most this may not seem like an issue, but if you have blood sugar regulation issues, I’d probably steer clear of juices…regardless of how healthy they are supposed to be.

Here’s a healthy juice recipe.

Beet & Berry Juice

2 medium beets

2 cups blueberries

1 apple

2 large carrots

½ cup raw broccoli

1 whole lemon

2” fresh ginger

½-1 cup no sugar added coconut water

Clean, chop, juice, and drink!

Parting Thoughts

I’m not opposed to smoothies and juices.  It’s important, though, to add them in as part of an overall healthy diet and lifestyle.  And to also use them in moderation.  I tend to lean a little more towards smoothies than juices because there’s a few more benefits to smoothies than to juices.  And the fiber content remains intake…that’s a big on for me.

Are you a fan of juices or smoothies?  Leave a comment below and tell me what your go to concoction is and why you love it?

Looking for a few other recipes?  Check out these recipes from my nutrition colleague, Caitlin Self.  

Mango Coconut Spinach Smoothie

Peanut Butter & Jelly Smoothie

Sunny Brigham, MS, CNS

I'm Sunny! I'm a board-certified clinical nutritionist with an MS in Clinical Nutrition. I help individuals reduce fatigue, eliminate bloat, and lose weight by healing the digestive tract and balancing hormones. I provide individual and group nutrition consultations nationwide. Join my closed Facebook group today! https://www.facebook.com/groups/140571826548289/

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