You've heard the story. A guy eats like crap his whole life, visits the doctor to find out he's "nearly dead," and regains his health on a liquid diet.
No more food, no more fuss, and no more fat. It's that simple!
The reason this sounds familiar is because it's nothing new. The only difference is this time it's juicing fruits and vegetables instead of mixing-up protein-powder meal-replacements.
Sustainable? Definitely not!
Realistically, anybody can lose weight (as every diet works); and simply "not eating" is probably the easiest way to accomplish this. The problem is, weight loss via starvation results in muscle loss. Largely because of inadequate protein, but also because of inadequate calories (since muscle tissue is metabolically expensive).
On a generic caloric restriction plan (with protein) nearly 40 percent of weight lost is muscle.
Aside from the weak, frail, unattractive physique that's produced as a result, the problem with losing muscle is that it reduces your resting metabolic rate. Resulting in less daily energy burning than what was experienced in the past.
These consequences often don't show up right away (especially if you maintain your liquid diet), but eventually you'll start to realize that you're gaining fat while eating next to nothing. In addition to being lethargic, brain-dead, and miserable, as your body looks for ways to conserve energy.
Basically, juicing is another "controlled starvation" approach to weight loss. That may actually be worse than Slim Fast and the other shake diets, when it comes to body composition and degeneration prevention (given the lack of protein).
"But, what if I juice in addition to my regular meals?"
The rationale behind adding a juiced beverage to your nutrition regimen is that you're able to consume more fruits and vegetables than you could (or would) otherwise eat. Which means higher levels of all the health-boosting benefits we get from eating plants.
Or does it?
The first problem with this thinking is that eating more fruit and eating more vegetables are recommendations that should be separated. Given the very different impact they have on our health (because of the glycemic load and fructose):
In a study from 2011 in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine added 1 golden delicious apple to the diets of 23 out of 46 overweight and hyperlipidemic men. After two months, the men eating the apple exhibited higher triglyceride levels and LDL cholesterol than at the beginning of the study.
And the current state of the population (obese, insulin resistant, and sedentary):
More importantly, juicing removes the fiber that would otherwise help control the blood glucose response from the sugars in fruit, and "fill us up" so we don't consume excessive amounts.
In other words: Juicing is trading real fruit for fruit juice. Meaning glucose heading straight to your blood stream, and fructose heading straight to your liver, in excessive quantities that would otherwise be extremely difficult to consume in full-food form. Potentially raising your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and any of the other conditions associated with chronically elevated blood sugar and insulin (cognitive decline, cancer, etc.).
To add to that, a good amount of the phytonutrients in both fruits and vegetables are lost with the fiber during processing. Which, as I discuss in Live It NOT Diet!, is the other major benefit to eating more plants.
So one could say: Juicing removes the two biggest benefits of eating fruits and vegetables (fiber and antioxidants). Essentially leaving us with a nutrient supplement bathing in glucose and fructose.
Fortunately, there is a solution. And although it's not a fancy $400 juicer endorsed by a TV celebrity, it will give you a few extra servings of the greens you're not eating with the gut-feeding fiber, and cell-protecting polyphenols that are supposed to come with them.
(It's a blender!)
Just remember, it's a beverage not a meal. That's best served next to animal protein, with a fruit quantity that matches your body composition and activity level.