Juicing: Is It Worth the Price Tag?

On the go? Grab a juice.

No time to make breakfast? Grab a juice.

Want to lose weight quickly? Grab a juice… and do a cleanse.

Sounds healthy enough, right?

Even more so now that we’re all much savvier about making sure our juice is made only with fresh, raw organic ingredients and nothing funny added into the mix…and for added assurance, it’s always cold pressed, too!

No doubt about it, juicing is big business; as a meal replacement or mere refreshment, it’s become a $5 billion business, and is projected to grow by 4% to 8% a year[1].

It’s not exactly cheap; a 17-ounce bottle of cucumber, celery, parsley, kale, dandelion, Swiss chard, lemon, and ginger juice will set you back $13.07 at Juice Press, a raw-juice bar with four outposts in New York and a busy mail-order business.

Even if cost isn’t an issue, it’s not actually the best bet from a health perspective, either.

Take, for example one popular franchise’s ‘cleanse’ protocol[2].

There are three options, one of which is “the most intense and lowest calorie cleanse, which is ideal for those looking for maximum results in the shortest possible time.”

The regime includes six different juices, two of which are all veggies, therefore inherently low in sugar, three of which are similar but with apple and one of which is made with almond and dates.

Fresh? Yes.

Natural? Yes.

But really worth it?

Not so much, at least not as a mainstay of your diet.

Why not?

  1. How about not creating a situation where your body is toxic in the first place?

First of all, why are we eating ‘foods’ that make it necessary to warrant a cleanse in the first place? How about just not eating that junk? According to Caroline Cederquist, a physician specializing in nutrition, juice cleanses are nothing more than snake oil. However, there is one healthy way to cleanse. “Cleanse your diet,” she says. “Get rid of the alcohol and junk food, and replace them with fruits, vegetables and other healthy choices[3].”

So what’s the problem?

  1. Too low in calories. If you’re trying to lose weight, this can backfire. Doing a juice cleanse typically reduces calories in a person’s diet, and can help people lose a little weight, but when people exclude their favorite foods from their diet for a period of time, they tend to reward themselves afterward, and even go overboard. Any pounds shed during a cleanse are mostly water weight, and will likely be gained back once usual eating habits resume, said dietician Liz Applegate, director of sports nutrition at US Davis[4].
  2. How about the fiber? Juicing extracts all of it, so while you’re still getting the antioxidant benefit, you’re left with a less nutrient dense option compared to if you’d taken a bunch of kale, a lime and some fresh ginger and simply thrown it into your own Vitamix at home and whizzed up a juice of your own… fiber intact!
  3. And what about for your wallet? At $199 for three days and six juices per day, that breaks down to $11/juice. For less than that cost per meal, you can easily do a weekly grocery shop at your farmer’s market and local grocers or co-op and create meals, which consist of whole, fresh, in-season veggies, wild proteins and natural fats.
  4. Where’s the fat?  We all now (I hope) by now that good fat is not the enemy we thought it was.   Cutting the fat, by the way, was one of the key factors in the dramatic increase in obesity and diabetes rates we saw as a result of that early 90’s trend.

Of course, there’s a little wiggle room to add an all green veggie juice to your regime, but as far as it being a must-do on a daily basis, or the solution to your weight loss woes, skip it.

Once we can get away from making the body toxic by eating low quality foods, combined with the urgency we feel to lose weight fast, we can ease back on the stress of it all and give the body the time and nutritional support it needs to return to, and exceed the healthiest state it can.

[1] “Drink Up!” There’s Big Business in Fresh Green Juices. Barron’s, n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2016

[2] https://www.pressedjuicery.com/products/juice-cleanses

[3] Kahn, Amir. “Dangers of Juice Cleanse.” US NEWS. N.p., 6 June 2015. Web

[4] Nierenberg, By Cari. “6 Potential Dangers of Juice Cleanses and Liquid Diets.” LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 24 Nov. 2014. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.