“One ginger-kale-apple-carrot-pineapple juice to go, please.”
Juice bars boasting the best in freshly pressed juices have been popular for several years, perhaps only eclipsed recently by the bone broth phenomenon.
And the appeal of juicing to the masses is manifold. Juices are colorful, organic, tasty, easy to consume, and packed with nutrients, antioxidants, and immunity-bolstering power. What’s not to love?
But do these superfood juices really help or hurt one’s weight loss goals? And we can simply eat (or drink) as much as we want of any “health food”?
These are some questions I’ve needed answered on my own health journey. And it’s a big reason why I’m part of the Weight Watchers community. It takes out the guesswork and streamlines healthy eating, while allowing so much flexibility.
On WW, you can be vegetarian, vegan, paleo, kosher, traditional, low-carb, dairy-free, or gluten-free . . . and as we’ll see, a juice lover, too. If this is you – if you have particular food preferences and you’ve been interested in the unique accountability and support of Weight Watchers, save yourself $10 with my Ebates link here.
Joe Cross and Juicing Success
As fellow Weight Watcher Martha of Simple Nourished Living discusses, juicing was at first a hard sell for her. It seemed extreme. And she saw some fellow Weight Watchers members actually gaining weight while juicing. After fruits became valued at zero SmartPoints a few years ago, many members inadvertently began consuming too much fruit, especially in smoothies and juices.
But does this mean that juicing isn’t healthy at all? It took another WW member’s testimony of losing weight through juicing and then meeting Joe Cross at a book signing to change her mind.
Have you seen the inspirational film Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead from a few years back? In it, Australian Joe Cross road trips and juices across America. Pounds are shed by the dozens, his health and energy improves dramatically, and he helps others regain their lives along the way.
Joe’s singular experience is so powerful, I bought several copies of the film that year for family and friends. My husband and I purchased a juicer, planned out meal-replacing juices for several days, and went gung-ho on our own “juice cleanse” of sorts.
Results? Consuming nothing but freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices for several days was challenging . . . but ultimately refreshing. It cleared our skin and digestion and flattened our tummies noticeably. But one thing I realized was that, for me, it was unsustainable in the long-term. And that’s the point – a juice fast, detox, or cleanse is temporary.
Has juicing been beneficial for Joe, us, and others? Undeniably. But should juicing be a cornerstone of a healthy, balanced diet?
Is Juicing Part of a Balanced Diet?
As I read more about traditional nutrition, such as Weston A. Price‘s research of pre- industrialized peoples, I realized that juice in human diets historically has been a special, seasonal treat. Generally, fruits and veggies traditionally have been consumed as a whole. Juice, flesh, stalks, and even leaves were usually eaten together – depending on the produce, of course.
Furthermore, because drinking so much juice without the rest of the plant is not really “natural” or historical to us humans, there are consequences to going overboard. According to Nourishing Our Children, reasons not to juice regularly or extensively include:
- Foods should be consumed in their whole state for best nutrient assimilation.
- Over-consumption of raw vegetables stresses the thyroid.
- Over-consumption of fruit sugars causes a spike in blood sugar.
- Juice’s nutrients are not able to be digested without fats.
- Lack of chewing food, as in a liquid diet, inhibits digestion.
- Tooth enamel experiences more decay with a diet high in juice.
What a conundrum! I’m both inspired by extreme juicer Joe Cross and yet engaged with the traditional nutritionists’ wisdom. So what’s a girl on Weight Watchers to do?
Weight Watchers Zero Points Fruits and Veggies . . . Does this Mean I Can Juice all I Want?
So now that fruits and vegetables are all zero points on the new Freestyle Program, does this mean we can juice fruits and veggies to our heart’s desire? Well, no. While fruits and vegetables in their whole form are indeed “free” zero point foods, these healthy powerhouses of nature are not free if juiced.
I’m thinking that Watchers recognizes the inherent issues with juicing, and this informs their SmartPoints for produce in its various forms. Juice is an easy food to overindulge. After all, it’s easier to consume the juice of four oranges in a few long gulps than sitting down, peeling, and eating those four oranges. But while oranges are zero points, orange juice is more – a whopping 3 points per 8 oz glass.
As fellow Weight Watchers member Gabrielle discussed, once she discovered this difference in how points count for produce, her lackluster weight loss over several weeks made sense. She had been enthusiastically consuming green smoothies daily, in addition to regular meals. But overall, it simply provided too many calories for her weight loss and maintenance goals.
Juicing While on Weight Watchers . . . The Bottom Line
The beauty of the Weight Watchers lifestyle is that everything is on the menu. Nothing’s off limits, and if you really enjoy the unmistakably fresh, sweet, tart zing of homemade juices . . . then go for it! But in order to experience success in your weight loss and weight maintenance goals while indulging in a juice, you may wish to keep in mind that juicing is a healthy indulgence.
In other words, juicing is not necessarily a daily part of a weight loss diet, but a treat. If you add a fresh-squeezed juice to a light breakfast or replace a meal with a juice once in a while, you’ll probably stay within your daily points and still experience Weight Watchers’ signature results.