What is better REAL veggies & Fruits or the Juice Form?
Reader question: Some people are hard-core believers in juicing. Others say itʼs better to consume the whole fruit to get all the nutrients and fiber. Thoughts?
Just like in the martial arts, there are trends in sports nutrition. Some are just fads, while others are based on research studies and can help you build a healthy, functional body.
In the past couple of years, juicing has surfaced as one of those trends. Look anywhere, and youʼll see people sipping juice, stores carrying bottled organic juice and delis serving fresh juice for lunch. In the correct proportions, a juice mixture can provide plenty of natural sugar, salt, enzymes, electrolytes, vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Those nutrients quickly enter your bloodstream, and your digestive system gets a break because it doesnʼt have to deal with the fiber.
Itʼs because of that missing fiber that eating an apple differs from drinking the juice that comes from an apple. Yes, fiber is important in a healthy diet, and yes, itʼs not present in most juices. Before you come to any conclusions about the value of juicing, though, you should know that the lack of fiber is precisely why juicing is popular.
The theory goes like this: Because juices require minimal digestion, they enable
your digestive system to temporarily “shut down,” thus making your bodyʼs energy available for deep cleansing and rebuilding. The theory also holds that drinking juice allows this to take place while youʼre getting nutrients youʼd find difficult to get by eating all those fruits and vegetables.
Itʼs believed by many that juicing reduces your risk of cancer, boosts your immune system, helps remove toxins from your body, aids digestion and assists in weight loss. However, most of these benefits stem from eating regular portions of
fruits and vegetables, and research has shown that juices and raw fruits and vegetables are equal in the regard.
Thinking about incorporating juices into your diet long term? There are several
reasons you might want to. Maybe youʼre not getting enough nutrients from your meals. Maybe you simply donʼt like vegetables. Maybe you need to boost your pre- training energy or post-training recovery. If any of these applies to you, you should be able to devise a mixture of fruits and vegetables, possibly with some added protein powder, to get the job done.
If youʼre considering juicing for its purported cleansing benefits, you should think short term. A juice cleanse lasts from one to five days. Typically, you drink juice and take in little to no solid food. Donʼt expect to fix months or years of bad eating with a few days of juicing, but you might be able to reset your palate and start eliminating poor habits such as bowing to a sweet tooth or giving in to portion-control temptation. Many martial artists I know see it as a way to instill a sense of calm and self-discipline, sometimes even as a form of self-assessment and retraining.
That said, you should exercise caution. Remember that all juice has calories—
often in the form of sugar. If youʼre trying to shed pounds, make sure your juice comes from fresh fruits and vegetables—and lean toward the vegetables if you want to limit your sugar intake. Itʼs way too easy to lose track and blend four bananas with three apples, leaving yourself with a sugary, high-calorie drink.
Rule of thumb: Concoct your juice in the ratio of two to three vegetables per fruit. Examples include grinding up an apple with spinach and kale, or grinding up an orange with celery and carrots. To lower the glycemic spike and get a nutrient boost, add lemon juice. To increase the roughage, add a scoop of fiber.
As I list those ingredients, Iʼm reminded of one extra benefit of juicing: Itʼs a great way to incorporate seldom-eaten foods into your diet. Most of us donʼt take in kale, celery, spinach, ginger, lemon and beets on a daily basis, but because of the growing number of stores, delis and restaurants that offer juices, itʼs easier to benefit