Get Juiced: The Right Way to Employ the Trend

Forget the cleanse and aim for one juice per day to supercharge your health.

Carrying a green juice has become as much of a status symbol as wearing a pair of Louboutins or rocking a Rolex on your wrist.

Thanks in part to the celebrity obsession with fresh-pressed juices and the popularity of juice bars, which are spreading like wildfire in major cities, the trend quickly caught on among the health elite and is now creeping it’s way into the mainstream (as mainstream as $8 a cup can be, anyway).

But there is a right way and a wrong way to get in on the action.

Juicing is most immediately associated with cleanses: a week-long (or more) surrender to the power of liquid, sipping every meal through a straw in hopes of dropping a few pounds and kick starting your health. But this takes rigorous dedication and direction by an informed professional who can ensure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs to function properly.

Which is not to say that it doesn’t prove beneficial for some. A quick Google search reveals tons of anecdotal evidence of the major successes people have had through juicing, including dropping significant amounts of weight and reversing chronic disease.

But let’s be real—most of us aren’t going to shell out cash for a carefully organized juice cleanse, embrace on a weekend-long juicing retreat, or have a nutritionist guide us through the process.

All of which is why a less drastic approach may be key to reaping the benefits of juicing, without the negative side effects.

The Trouble with Juice Fasting

“The basic idea behind a juice-fast program is to drink only juice for a period of time—from three days to as long as three months—to help your body achieve specific results, such as heal from an illness, reduce and/or eliminate medications, cleanse your system of stored toxins or lose weight,” wrote Steve and Julie Prussack in Juice Guru: Transform Your Lie By Adding One Juice a Day. “It’s true that juice fasting can be a phenomenal way to achieve all of those goals. But if, like the average person, you are simply looking to gain energy and health, the thought of not eating solid food for days or weeks may send you running for the door. In fact, many who try an extended juice fast find they need to do so at a costly retreat to do it right.”

And the high barriers for entry aren’t the only issue with juice fasting. There is a well documented yo-yo effect when it comes to using it as a tool for weight loss.

A recent study conducted at a Juice Guru webinar found that 100 percent of the people who had tried various juice reboots, cleanses or detoxes gained back the weight they had lost. Even Phil Staples, the star of Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead who became the face of juice fasting and weight loss when he dropped 100 pounds on a 60-day cleanse, fell victim to the yo-yo effect, gaining back all the weight and then some two years later.

Without a proper maintenance plan juice fasting just becomes another fad diet—an option when desperate times (a high school reunion or upcoming beach vacation) call for desperate measures, but ultimately fueling an unhealthy pattern of yo-yo dieting.

The Drawbacks of Juicing

Concentrated Source of Calories

You may see juice and think healthy and low-cal. But that’s not always the case. Take a simple orange juice, for example. One serving may contain four or five oranges—that can easily add up to 300 calories, which you’re able to down in five minutes (versus the time it would take to actually eat four whole oranges).

High Sugar

And it’s not just calories, but sugar, that is highly concentrated. Especially if your juices contain more fruit than vegetables (and certain higher-sugar vegetables like carrots and beets)—you may be consuming sugar levels that would give a milkshake a run for its money. These types of juices can lead to a spike in blood sugar, which not only negatively affects your mood and energy levels, but can increase your risk of diabetes.

Extracting Fiber

One major reason your blood sugar is sent on a rollercoaster ride is because the fiber that lives in the pulp of the fruits and veggies is taken out of the mix when you juice them. Fiber is an important nutrient for satiety and for keeping blood sugar stable, while also lowering your cholesterol and reducing risk of heart disease. “Generally, it’s better to eat a whole food than to isolate any part of it,” wrote Steve and Julie Prussack. “Nature makes perfect foods, with thousands of nutrients that interact with each other and affect thousands of metabolic reactions in our body.”

The Upsides of Smart Juicing

An Easy Way to Pack in Produce

Research consistently shows that getting adequate servings of fruits and vegetables is an integral part of prevention and health maintenance, helping protect the body against a laundry list of chronic diseases and lengthening our lifespan. A study published in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that people who ate up to seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day cut their risk of premature death by 42 percent. But getting seven servings per day isn’t always easy—unless you cram five of them into a juice you can chug in a few minutes.

A Nutrient-Dense Beverage

Fruits and vegetables are extremely nutrient-dense—and all of that nutrition is being packed into your glass, giving you a powerful dose of nutrition. “Fruits and vegetables are the preeminent source of many natural vitamins and minerals, as well as hydration,” wrote Steve and Julie Prussack. “They also contain a range of phytonutrients. These include antioxidants, such as lycopene and beta-carotene, and organasulfers, which may be hard to find or unavailable in other foods.”

Disease Prevention

When used as a part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, there is no shortage of research that reveals the upside of consuming this wealth of nutrients from juicing. A study conducted by Vanderbilt University showed that those who drank three or more servings of fruit and vegetable juice each week were significantly less likely to develop signs of Alzheimer’s over 10 years than those who drank less than one serving per week. Another study published in Biomedical and Environmental Sciences found that men with high cholesterol who drank three to four shots of kale juice a day dramatically lowered their LDL (bad) cholesterol and boosted their HDL (good) cholesterol. And a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Nutrition found that beet juice as associated with decreased blood pressure.

Aim for One Juice a Day

As the founder of Juice Guru Academy, Steve Prussack encourages juicing as part of a healthy lifestyle. And his Daily Juice practice makes it an accessible habit that takes little effort, and minimal change to your daily routine. “There is no ‘diet’ associated with the Daily Juice protocol … you don’t have to stop enjoying the foods you love. You don’t even have to stop drinking other beverages you enjoy, such as coffee or tea,” he wrote.

He agrees that whole foods, as close to their natural state as possible, are ideal. But “having one fresh-pressed juice every day is the exception. It is minimally processed and removes only the fiber. Removing the bulk—just once a day—allows you to squeeze the nutrients from a tremendous quantity and variety of of fruits and vegetables into a single juice.”

The rules are simple: “Drink one 24- to 32-ounce freshly pressed juice each morning on an empty stomach.” And then carry on with your regularly scheduled programming.

Here are a few of our favorites to get you started (and even make those warm-weather day drinking sessions a bit healthier).

NothinButTheGreensJuiceGuru

The Cheater: Nothin’ But the Greens

Not a fan of green vegetables? We feel you. On days you just can’t suffer through a salad, chug one of these bad boys instead.

All greens contain chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants that is responsible for photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is a good source of beta-carotene and vitamin K and provides significant antioxidant and anticancer effects. This earthy blend is loaded with some of our favorite greens and has a delightfully complex flavor. Cilantro provides excellent support for liver health. This herb is not typically used in juices because of its distinctive taste, but if you love it (not everyone does), it will add a bold savory flavor to your juice. If you are not a fan of cilantro, simply omit it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 green apples, cored and sliced
  • 1⁄2 cup packed chopped romaine lettuce leaves
  • 1 cucumber, quartered
  • 1⁄2 cup packed, chopped kale leaves
  • 1⁄2 cup packed chopped spinach 125 mL
  • 1⁄2 cup packed chopped chard
  • 20 sprigs fresh cilantro (about 1 bunch)

Directions:

  1. Using a juicer, process half each of the celery, apple, romaine, cucumber, kale, spinach, chard and cilantro.
  2. Following the same order, repeat with the remaining apple and vegetables.
  3. Whisk well and serve immediately. Makes about
 three cups (750 mL).

Juice Guru’s Tip: You might not think to juice lettuce, but romaine adds an incredible boost of nutrition. It’s an excellent source of vitamins A and K, folate and molybdenum. It also contains manganese, potassium, copper and iron, along with vitamins B1 and C. Because the taste of romaine is neutral, you can add it to many different green juices without affecting the overall flavor profile.

RedheadSupremeJuiceGuru

The Gateway: Redhead Supreme

If you’re new to juicing, start sweet (trust us, going straight to an all veggie green juice may trigger your gag reflex).

This juice is a great choice for beginners. It’s easy to make and, best of all, tastes just like old-fashioned fruit punch-flavored candy. In addition, beets are extremely beneficial, providing ample amounts of potassium and also vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and iron. Betacyanin (the purple pigment in beets) has been shown to have possible anticancer effects against breast and prostate cancer. Apples are brimming with antioxidants, which, aside from greatly boosting your immune system, can lower your risk of asthma and lung cancer.

Ingredients:

  • 6 red apples, cored and sliced
  • 1 beet, quartered
  • 1 lemon, peeled and halved
  • 1 1⁄2-inch (1 cm) piece peeled gingerroot

Directions:

  1. Using a juicer, process half each of the apples, beet and lemon, plus the ginger.
  2. Following the same order, repeat with the remaining apples, beet and lemon.
  3. Whisk well and serve immediately. Makes about three cups (750 mL).

Juice Guru’s Tip: There are so many varieties of apples to choose from. Fuji, Red Delicious and Granny Smith are most commonly used for juicing, but any type will produce a delicious juice. We recommend using whatever is local and in season. Simply changing the variety of apple you use is an easy way to combat boredom with a particular juice blend.

Choose small or medium beets with firm roots, smooth skins and deep color. Avoid beets that have spots, bruises or soft, wet areas, all of which indicate spoilage. Shriveled or spongy beets should also be avoided, as these are signs that the beets are old, tough and fibrous.

WatermelonStraightUpJuiceGuru

The Cocktail Mixer: Watermelon Straight Up

For a healthier happy hour ditch the sugary processed mixers and use fresh watermelon juice instead.

Watermelon juice is not only refreshingly sweet and delicious but also extremely nutritious. While the juicy red flesh of watermelon is loaded with vitamin C and the carotenoid lycopene, the white part of the rind (which we typically don’t eat) contains an incredible amount of phenolic antioxidants, flavonoids and more vitamin C. Juicing both the flesh and the white rind helps us get all those nutrients we normally might toss onto the compost pile.

Ingredients: 1 watermelon, prepared for juicing

Directions:

  1. Using a sharp knife, cut watermelon into pieces and remove outer skin, leaving the white rind intact.
  2. Using a juicer, process watermelon.
  3. Whisk well and serve immediately. Makes about three cups (750 mL).

Juice Guru’s Tip: To prepare a whole watermelon for juicing, cut off one of the ends, creating a flat surface so you can stand the melon upright. Carefully slice it in half lengthwise through the center, then cut each half in half again. Insert the knife between the skin and the rind and cut away the green skin, leaving the inner white rind intact. There is no need to discard the seeds.

Recipes courtesy of Juice Guru: Transform Your Life with One Juice a Day by Steve Prussack & Julie Prussack © 2016 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.