While juice seems healthy -- especially the cold-pressed blends you can buy at health food stores and juice bars -- it's not necessarily your best bet for weight loss, explains the Harvard School of Public Health. Juice contains all the vitamins and minerals from whole fruits and vegetables, so it serves as a source of nutrients -- but it also contains their natural sugars, which makes it relatively high in calories. If you're juicing for weight loss, try juices that are naturally lower in calories and high in nutrients that may help you shed pounds.
Lemon or Lime Juice
Despite the fantastic health claims you might see online, lemon and lime juice can't melt away your fat. But these juices are relatively low in calories, so they're easy to fit into a calorie-controlled diet. An ounce of either lime or lemon juice has fewer than 10 calories, and you can easily mix it into a glass of water for flavored "juice" with a fraction of the calories of typical fruit juice.
These juices also offer a generous amount of vitamin C, which might help you lose weight. Vitamin C can affect your cellular metabolism, and it may actually help you burn fat during exercise, according to a 2006 study published in Nutrition & Metabolism. The study authors found that low vitamin C levels lower fat-burning capacity during exercise by 25 percent and that boosting vitamin C levels restored normal fat burning. An ounce of lime juice has 16 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, while an ounce of lemon juice has 20 percent.
Homemade All-Vegetable Juice Blends
Keep your juice lower in calories by going for fresh juice made from vegetables only, instead of ones made with fruit. Adding fruit to juice blends sweetens your mix, but that comes at a price -- you'll also be taking in more calories and sugar. Making your juice with a blend of low-calorie vegetables, however, allows you to enjoy juice with minimal impact on your waistline.
The exact calorie content of your vegetable juice blend will depend on which ingredients you choose. But juicing with greens -- like watercress, bok choy, butterhead lettuce, cabbage and cucumber -- lowers the calorie count. Beet and mustard greens, tomatoes, carrots and beets are slightly higher in calories but can still work in a low-calorie juice blend. Add a knob of ginger for flavorful spice, or a squeeze of lemon juice to boost vitamin C.
If you go with store-bought vegetable juices, though, watch out for their sodium content. A 6-ounce can of regular tomato juice -- which contains added salt for flavor -- has 460 milligrams of sodium, which is 19 percent of the daily value. Tomato juice with no salt added, on the other hand, has just 18 milligrams of sodium.
Chia Juice Spritzers
Liquid calories, like juice, aren't satiating -- so you take in calories without getting that "full" feeling as a reward. However, you can boost your fullness when drinking juice by adding dietary fiber. Getting enough fiber is key to feeling full and losing weight, and diets rich in fiber boost satiety, lower your risk of obesity and even affect hormone release in your digestive tract to help promote weight loss, according to a review published in Nutrition in 2005.
Stirring a half-ounce of chia seeds into your low-calorie juice adds about 5 grams of fiber, or 19 percent of the daily value. You'll also get 9 percent of the daily value for calcium -- a mineral linked to fat loss, according to a study published in Obesity Research in 2008.
Make a healthful chia spritzer by combining a half-ounce of chia with an ounce of unsweetened cranberry juice, lemon juice or lime juice and a cup of sparkling water for a filling drink.
Drinking Juice for Weight Loss
A healthy diet isn't about deprivation -- you can still enjoy your favorite juices, even if they're higher-calorie fruit juices, as long as you do it in moderation. Juices can be as high -- or even higher -- in calories as obviously unhealthy beverages, like soda. For example, an 8-ounce serving of unsweetened grape juice has 152 calories, which is the same number of calories you'll find in a 12-ounce can of cola -- even though the cola has a significantly larger serving size. Make sure you count the calories you drink as part of your total daily calorie intake, and measure your portions so you don't accidentally drink more than one serving at a time -- especially if you buy store-bought juices, which often contain more than one serving per bottle.
Reduce the calorie content of your juice by diluting in water. A mixture of half orange juice and half sparking water, for example, still lets you enjoy the juice's flavor, even though you're taking in just half the calories. A spritzer made from a half-cup each of OJ and club soda has just 56 calories per cup, compared to 112 calories in a cup of pure OJ. If you're making juice from concentrate, add an extra can or two of water for a more dilute, lower-calorie juice.
- Harvard School of Public Health: Sugary Drinks
- Nutrition & Metabolism: Marginal Vitamin C Status Is Associated With Reduced Fat Oxidation During Submaximal Exercise in Young Adults
- HealthAliciousNess: Nutrient Facts Comparison Tool
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Nutrient Lists
- Obesity Research: Calcium and Dairy Acceleration of Weight and Fat Loss During Energy Restriction in Obese Adults
- Nutrition: Dietary Fiber and Body Weight
- HealthAliciousNess: Nutrient Facts Comparison Tool: Tomato Juice, Tomato Juice Without Salt, Orange Juice