With celebrities such as Salma Hayek, Sarah Jessica Parker and Gwyneth Paltrow reportedly losing weight while feeling great by juicing, you might be tempted to join in. After all, stoically drinking green juices morning, noon and night seems to demonstrate a dedication to weight loss not achieved by trimming calories alone. Juicing for weight loss can backfire, however -- leaving you hungry, nutritionally deficient and fatter in the long run. Juice wisely, and it can be a weight-loss ally.
The juices you consume for weight loss aren't the jugs of orange juice or fruit punch you pick up in the grocery store. Juicing for weight loss has you using a home juicer to press pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables and create concoctions rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Alternatively, you may purchase cold-pressed juices at a premium price to replace meals. These natural juices contain no added sugar, preservatives, unwanted fats or excess sodium. When made mostly with green vegetables, such as kale, celery and cucumber, they are also low in calories.
Going to Extremes
Although home-pressed juices provide lots of goodness, consuming these exclusively as a juice fast in an attempt to lose weight can have unwanted consequences. Juices lack certain essential nutrients, namely protein and healthy fats. Protein is critical in helping you maintain muscle mass as you drop pounds, while both protein and fat help give you a sense of fullness after a meal. All the pulp you see left over in the trash compartment of your juicer is the fiber your body is missing out on when you consume juices. Fiber also plays a role in making you feel full and combats bloating and constipation. Many juice-only diets are very low in calories, which stalls your metabolism, leads to fatigue, may result in headaches and dizziness, and makes you irritable. If you muster the resolve to stick to a juice fast for more than a few days, most of the weight you lose will be water and muscle -- not fat.
Everything in Moderation
It's not all or nothing when it comes to juicing for weight loss, though. You can safely replace one meal or snack with a healthful green juice and successfully lose weight, says dietitian Joy Bauer. At other meals, watch your portion sizes and stick to whole foods, namely lean proteins, fresh vegetables and fruits and whole grains, to help you drop pounds. By eating whole foods, you won't feel as if you're starving.
If you do use juice to augment your weight-loss plan, realize that calories from juice can add up quickly if you include a lot of fruit in your mix. The sugars in the fruit also spike your insulin levels, leading to energy swings and inhibiting weight loss. Some weight-loss juice plans are too low in calories, so you won't have the energy for exercise and daily chores that burn calories. You may not be consuming a lot of calories, but without ample daily activity, you aren't burning a lot either. As a result, you may not be creating a very large calorie deficit, and your weight loss slows down. Furthermore, if you get out of the habit of daily exercise, it's that much harder to add it back in once you return to eating regular food. The result may be a sudden return of any pounds lost. A weight-loss plan that creates a deficit through moderate calorie reduction and increased calorie burning with exercise is more sustainable for the long term.