October 28, 2013 posted by

Juicing: Yay or Nay?

Juicing: Yay or Nay?

Yesterday I fueled an 8-hour adventure in the mountains with a serving of Shakeology, a 16 oz green juice of kale, broccoli, spinach, ginger, beets, and apples, two energy bars and 100 oz of water. I wouldn’t recommend this others. It was a test. But it highlights how effect juicing can be.

Defining juice

There’s a whole section of most supermarkets devoted to stuff called juice that’s mainly sugar water and food coloring. Nothing on the juice aisle is nothing but fruit and vegetables processes through a juicer or blender, and that’s what juice is. You can’t buy juice at a market. You can only buy it at a juice bar and, even then, you need to check because some use extracts and concentrates. Case in point, Whole Foods. My local juicer bought Whole Foods’ juicers when they switched to ingredients instead of plants. Don’t know if all Whole Foods followed suit but you should ask.

Nutritional differences

Market bought “juice” has varying amounts of nutrients, depending on how it’s made, but in no cases is it very high. Check the nutrition info panel and you’ll see it’s usually similar to soda, one or two hundred calories of sugar, depending upon serving size, with a difference being its fortified with some isolated vitamins that are displayed on the label. No protein, no fiber, no micronutrients.

Juicing condenses whatever plants you’re using. My 16 ounce juice cited above probably had a whole head of kale and a giant salad bowl (like what you’d serve at a party) of stuff. The only thing missing from the juice is the fiber, the thing that, while super healthy, would make it impossible to eat so much volume. You still get all the nutrients, which when you condense that many greens is a ton of protein, along with a phytonutrient profile so robust you’d have a hard time fitting it on a label.

Why not just eat fruits and veggies?

Well, you should eat them as much as you can. They’re the best thing you can eat. There are times, however, when life is too busy to eat all the fruits and veggies we should. Some people also don’t like them but I don’t feel that’s a good reason. Man up. It’s your life we’re talking about. I use man because it’s generally they who hate veggies. Women tend to dislike protein, and we’ll get to that in a sec. Fiber is super important in your diet. It’s not found in meat, nor most “convenience foods”. It’s found in plants, so you should eat some in their natural state.

But juicing, when you’re in a hurry, can provide a massive nutrient hit that can’t come close to being mimicked by anything. Most veggies have a ton of protein. They have so few calories, however, that eating them in their natural state won’t give you all the protein you need. This is why vegetarians have issues getting protein, especially vegans who need to eat a ton of legumes (something I have no problem with since I love them). For those who don’t love meat, like many women for some reason, juicing is an easy way to boost your daily protein numbers.

It sounds good, so where’s the yay or nay?

Like many fads, juicing comes with a stigma due to associated proselytizing that comes from its fans. Instead of being hailed for what it is, a super healthy tool, it’s more often thought of as a part of a fast, cleanse, or new age hippie or Hollywood craze. And while movies like Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead are fantastic, juicing isn’t a black and white thing. There’s no logic to the idea that you “must” juice daily, from breakfast, or make it your entire diet. That type of mania probably does more against juicing for the mainstream. Think of it more like the thing you do when you’d like to sit down and eat a dinner party’s worth of the healthiest salad imaginable but don’t have two hours to waste on eating.

It’s also not cheap. A head of kale can cost $3, and note what percentage of my above juice that was. Some people complain that Shakeology is expensive. When they do, we love to stack it up versus juicing because it makes it seem both frugal and extremely convenient. Juicing at home means that you need to own a juicer and deal with clean up. Do this for a while and it starts to make sorting out a proper community juice bar more time efficient than you thought.


The bottom line is the juicing is awesome; one of the best things you can add to your diet provided, of course, it’s actually fruit and vegetable juicing from plants and not something you buy sitting on a shelf somewhere. It’s not very convenient, which is why daily juicing didn’t make my challenge as it was on the original list. It’s also expensive, but when you stack the nutrient numbers up with your current diet plan just might see there are some worthwhile cost swaps that you make. You also don’t need to do it all the time, or even daily. It’s good whenever you want a super healthy meal, like me before a massive day of exercise, because no where else can you get near as many nutrients in a neatly wrapped up package.

Challenge in progress, so no numbers until tomorrow.

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  • Yes, it’s solid like a frozen cow patty. Seems to have heft and it makes a great paperweight—that is until you let it sit for a little. Then it’s not so great…

    Let’s start with the way he attacks that coach. I love Beachbody Coaches. Full Disclosure: they pay my rent and put clothes on my daughter’s back—but at the end of the day, they aren’t the people who create our supplements. To directly attack the nutritional viability of Shakeology via what a coach said is like attacking the engineering of Prius based on a visit to your local Toyota dealer. It’s incredibility myopic.

    Next, the vitamins B12 and E thing. Honestly, I shouldn’t even bother with this because, if you look through the list of supplements that he mentions, many of them use cyanocobalamin and alpha tocopherol, making the argument moot. That said, regarding cynocobalmin, it’s a completely accepted form of the supplement and the necessary conversion isn’t considered an issue by either the standard or holistic health community—except a few fringe types, none of whom I trust and who are probably trying to get you to buy their methylcobaamin. The only people it impacts are people who are already pretty poisoned by cyanide (like smokers) who require large doses. Is methylcobalamin better? Well, yes, but it’s not worth the expense which is why, to repeat myself, it appears in many of the sups on this dude’s list.

    As for the alpha/gamma thing tocopherol thing, those studies use MASSIVE amounts of a-tocopherol—60+ IUs daily, while Shakeology contains 15 IU. Any bozo knows that mega dosing any vitamin or mineral is entirely different from offering 50% of the RDI, especially when it’s a fat-based vitamin that the body doesn’t readily flush out.

    And even if, while I think g-tocopherol is a fascinating nutrient and I’m fairly certain that vitamin E will eventually be split in to E1 and E2 (like the Bs) to make sure people get it, there’s nothing wrong with the alpha—it’s still super “heart healthy.” You’ll find tons alpha-tocopherol in nuts, seeds, and olives. Is ANYONE seriously going to tell us to stop consuming that stuff?

    Finally, let’s talk about all the supplements he compares Shakeology to. If you actually look at them, you’ll notice that THEY HAVE LITTLE OR NO CALORIES. They aren’t food. They are multivitamins. Without even getting into the difference between meal replacement/augmentation and multivitamins, all I need to do is point out that you’d need to add 130-170 healthy, balanced calories to any of these four supplements. Suddenly, the price difference vanishes.

    Hmmmm… suddenly that argument smells really bad…

  • Another fantastic article Steve. I’m a huge fan of juicing and try to juice after every workout. Do you juice mostly greens or do you include some of the juices with higher sugar content like carrots, apples, etc?

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