Eating too much of any food or beverage can have unpleasant consequences, and orange juice is no exception. Many people start their day with orange juice, and some prefer the drink to the whole fruit. But if you drink too much orange juice, you might experience side effects. If you want to stay healthy while avoiding the ill effects of drinking too much OJ, have the whole fruit instead.
The amount of calories and sugar you get from orange juice varies greatly, depending on the amount you have at one time. For example, a small 4-oz. serving of orange juice has 56 calories and 12.9 g of carbohydrates, while a larger 16-oz. serving has 223 calories and 51.6 g of carbohydrates. Orange juice, whether it has pulp or not, is not a good source of fiber, unlike whole fresh oranges.
Orange juice has a relatively low glycemic index, which means that its carbohydrates elevate your blood sugar more slowly, compared with a high-glycemic food like white bread, candy or potatoes. The problem is that most people do not stick to a small serving of orange juice, and a large serving can cause a high-glycemic load, or a large amount of carbohydrates at once, which can quickly elevate your blood sugar. For example, a 4-oz. serving of orange juice has a glycemic load of 5.9, while a 16-oz.-serving has a glycemic load of 23.7. A glycemic load below 10 is low; 11 to 19 is moderate, and above 20 is high. A high-glycemic load can compromise your blood-sugar control, especially if you're diabetic or pre-diabetic.
Inconsistent energy levels throughout the day are a side effect of drinking too much orange juice. Drinking too much regularly can induce large fluctuations in your blood sugar. Although you may feel energized immediately after downing a large glass of orange juice, your energy may quickly drop as your blood sugar plummets.
Another side effect of consuming foods and beverages with a high-glycemic load is that they can contribute to weight gain and obesity. Orange juice is not very satisfying, because it doesn't have any fiber. The blood sugar drop that follows the consumption of large amounts of orange juice can make you crave more carbohydrates and cause you to want more food, which can result in weight gain.