Juicing is an easy way to consume lots of nutrients without having to eat whole fruits and vegetables. Many people claim it’s a helpful weight loss tool.

The juicing diet trend has increased in popularity over the years, but its effectiveness is controversial.

This article will explore whether juicing can really help you lose weight.

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What is juicing?

Juicing is the process of extracting the liquid from fruits and vegetables while removing the solids. This can be done by hand or with a motor-driven juicer.

The juice from fruits and vegetables doesn’t contain any skin, seeds, or pulp. It does contain some nutrients and antioxidants, but without the beneficial fiber of whole fruits and vegetables (1, 2, 3).

Some people use juicing as a “detox” method. However, there are no scientific studies showing that replacing solid food with juice will detoxify the body.

People also use juices as nutrition supplements and to lose weight. However, while juices can be rich in some nutrients, drinking juice exclusively is not a healthy and sustainable way to lose weight.

In general, juice recipes contain the juice of fruit and vegetables. Common recipes are made with carrots, celery, spinach, apples, oranges, wheatgrass, or combinations of these. Many also contain spices such as turmeric and ginger.

Summary

Juicing involves extracting the liquid from fruits and vegetables. People drink this juice to “detox,” to add nutrients to their diets, and/or to lose weight.

Juice diets and how they affect you

There are several types of juice diets available. The most common type is a juice fast, in which people replace their meals with juiced fruits and vegetables.

The point is to lose weight by abstaining from solid food while still ingesting a significant amount of nutrients from the juice.

Generally, these diets are very low in calories.

Some people do juice fasts for just a few days, while others go on them for weeks at a time.

Unfortunately, the effectiveness of juice diets is not well studied, but many people claim they produce quick weight loss.

Juice diets may significantly reduce calorie intake

To lose weight, you must maintain a calorie deficit, which means you consume fewer calories than you burn (4).

Many juice diets lack solid food and are extremely low in calories. This results in a large calorie deficit for many people, so juice diets do often lead to weight loss, at least in the short term (5).

However, once your calorie intake goes back to normal after the juice diet, you’ll likely regain some of the weight, if not all.

Juice diets aren’t filling

Since juice-only diets lack solid foods, you might find yourself feeling hungrier than usual when following this type of regimen.

This is because liquid meals, especially those that are high in carbs, are less filling than solid foods (6, 7).

Solid foods are more filling because they contain fiber and protein, which are both important nutrients that have appetite-reducing properties (8).

Fiber can reduce appetite because it may slow down the emptying of the stomach and increase digestion time (9).

Meanwhile, protein increases the levels of hormones that signal fullness, which are essential for appetite regulation (10).

Juice diets affect your metabolism

The severe calorie deficit that many juice diets cause can have a destructive effect on your metabolism.

These diets are characterized by rapid weight loss and limited protein intake, which may lead to reduced muscle mass (11).

Muscles are metabolically active, so individuals with a lower muscle mass have a lower resting energy expenditure. This means they burn fewer calories at rest than those with more muscle (12).

Additionally, your body senses starvation when you dramatically reduce your calorie intake, so your body acts to preserve calories by burning fewer of them (13).

Controlled studies have confirmed this effect in individuals who follow calorie-restricted diets (14).

In one study, women with overweight or obesity who underwent a calorie restriction treatment for 3 months experienced a significant reduction in resting energy expenditure during that period (14).

While a calorie deficit is necessary for weight loss, it appears that low calorie diets, including juice fasts, may be counterproductive due to their negative effects on metabolism.

Summary

Juice diets are typically severely calorie-restricted and may not be filling. They may also affect your metabolism.

Juicing is generally safe if you do it for only a few days at a time. Additionally, fresh fruit and vegetable juices are a fine addition to a healthy diet as long as you truly enjoy them and you don’t drink excessive amounts of juices that have added sugar.

However, juice fasts do carry some risks when they are prolonged.

Inadequate fiber

Whole fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of fiber, but most of the fiber is removed in the juicing process.

Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet. Eating enough of it is important for optimal digestion because it keeps the beneficial bacteria in your gut healthy and may reduce constipation for some people (15).

Additionally, it may lower your chances of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity (15).

When participating in juice fasts, you significantly reduce your fiber intake, which may result in health problems.

Nutrient deficiencies

There are a few reasons why doing juice fasts for long periods may lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Since these diets lack animal products, they are low in a few essential nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12, and zinc (16).

All these nutrients have important functions in the body. Inadequate consumption may lead to health conditions such as osteoporosis and anemia (17, 18).

Juice fasts are also low in omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats that fight inflammation and contribute to brain and heart health (16).

In addition to being low in specific nutrients, these diets may actually interfere with the absorption of the nutrients.

One reason for this is that juice diets tend to be low in fat, which is required for the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K (19).

Plus, some raw vegetables often used in juicing contain an antinutrient called oxalate, which can bind to minerals in your body and prevent them from being absorbed. In rare cases, high levels of oxalates may cause kidney damage (20, 21).

Oxalate-rich vegetables commonly used in juicing include spinach and other greens, such as beet greens, kale, beets, Swiss chard, and turnip greens (22).

Increased risk of infection

Due to the minimal protein and inadequate amounts of some important nutrients in a juice diet, following one for a long time can impact your immune system and increase your risk of infection.

Depletion of immune-enhancing nutrients, such as iron, vitamin D, and zinc, may impact immune system health (23).

When your immune system is compromised, you may catch illnesses such as colds and the flu more easily. It may also take longer for your body to heal wounds.

Fatigue and weakness

Fatigue and weakness are common side effects of following a juice fast.

These symptoms are likely to occur because of the low number of calories these diets contain. If you’re depriving your body of calories, you’re essentially depriving it of energy, which can lead to these undesirable effects.

Reduced lean muscle mass

The minimal amount of protein in most juice fasts may lead to a reduction in lean muscle mass, which can have a negative effect on health (11).

As your lean muscle mass decreases, your metabolism decreases as well, meaning you will burn fewer calories and may have a more difficult time maintaining weight loss (11).

Summary

Juicing is generally safe, but following a juice-only diet for a long time may have a negative effect on your health and well-being.

There is no formal research to support the idea that juicing helps with weight loss.

Based on anecdotal evidence, it’s clear that juice diets may lead to rapid weight loss in the short term, especially when they are very low in calories.

However, you could experience some negative health effects from such severe calorie restriction, especially if you follow the diet for more than a few days at a time.

Additionally, it’s difficult to sustain such a restrictive diet. Most people do not stick with very low calorie diets for long and end up gaining back the weight they’ve lost (5).

Juicing may be an easy way to lose weight quickly, but its potential health consequences seem to outweigh its benefits.

You’re better off following a more sustainable diet that includes whole foods and enough calories to keep your body functioning properly.

Summary

While juicing may result in short-term weight loss, it’s not sustainable and may lead to health complications if followed long term.

Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are tasty and nutrient-rich, but they’re not filling because they’re low in fiber and protein.

Juice fasts, although a popular choice for dieting, are not sustainable and may lead to health complications if followed for a long time.