Have you ever heard of the V8 diet? This meal plan was popular back in the early 2000s. But a new trend has emerged over the past few years: A growing number of dieters now fast using V8 juice. Proponents say that juicing and juice fasting speed weight loss while flushing toxins.
Is V8 Juice Really Healthy?
The original V8 juice contains a blend of vegetable juices, natural flavorings, citric acid and vitamins plus a pinch of salt. Each serving (8 ounces) provides the equivalent of two servings of veggies and has only 45 calories. Its main ingredients include tomatoes, carrots, watercress, celery and other vegetables with potential health benefits. Compared to other juices on the market, V8 has no added sugar, artificial colors or preservatives.
Read more: Is V8 Juice as Good as Eating Vegetables?
Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a minimum daily intake of one and a half to two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables as part of a healthy diet. Fruit and vegetable juices count toward the recommended number of servings. Yet, just one in 10 American adults meets these guidelines, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
V8 juices can make it easier to get more fruits and veggies into your diet. In addition to V8 Original, customers can opt for V8 Low-Sodium, V8 Essential Antioxidants, V8 High Fiber and V8 Fruit and Vegetable Blends, among other products.
V8 Pomegranate Blueberry, for example, provides the equivalent of a half cup of fruit and a half cup of vegetables per serving, including the following nutrients:
- 100 calories
- 25 grams of carbs
- 22 grams of sugars
- 20 percent of the DV (daily value) of vitamin A
- 20 percent of the DV of vitamin C
- 6 percent of the DV of potassium
- 2 percent of the DV of calcium
- 2 percent of the DV of iron
V8 Original, by contrast, is lower in calories and carbs (9 grams per serving). It also boasts 2 grams of protein and 30 percent of the daily recommended vitamin C intake. V8 Caribbean Greens, another popular juice, offers 60 calories, 1 gram of protein and 15 grams of carbs per serving.
Each beverage has a different nutritional profile. A V8 juice cleanse that includes fruit and vegetable blends can help increase your daily intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
The downside is that most beverages contain little or no fat, protein and fiber, which may lead to nutrient deficiencies if you consume nothing but juices. Stay on the safe side and use these products as part of a balanced diet rather than going on a juice fast.
Why Juice Cleanses Don't Work
Detox juice cleanses are designed to rid your body of toxins and metabolic waste. They're promoted as a natural, healthy way to balance your metabolism, detoxify your liver and lose stubborn fat. These claims lack scientific evidence, though. In fact, juice fasting can do more harm than good.
As mentioned above, fruit and vegetable juices are low in protein; V8 is no exception. As the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) points out, dietary protein helps build and maintain muscle mass. This nutrient occurs naturally in meat, fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, dairy, eggs and most vegetables. A low-protein diet can lead to muscle loss, diminished physical performance and poor overall health.
The V8 vegetable juice fast — or any other "detox" program — can deprive your body of protein and other essential nutrients. And no, these diets won't help you get rid of toxins. The human body has its own detoxification mechanisms, such as the skin, liver and kidneys.
Read more: How to Detox in 3 Days Without Juicing
While it's true that you may get leaner on a detox diet, the results won't last. Additionally, you'll lose mostly water and lean mass rather than fat. In the worst case scenario, you might end up gaining weight.
Fruit juices are higher in sugar than you think. In fact, some contain just as much sugar as soda, energy drinks and fruit punch, according to a review published in JAMA Network Open in May 2014. Both fruit juices and sugar-sweetened beverages have been linked to a greater risk of diabetes, coronary heart disease and obesity.
A research paper featured in the January 2012 edition of the American Journal of Public Health states that fructose, the sugar in fruits, is just as harmful as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a common ingredient in soft drinks. Both fructose and HFCS may contribute to metabolic syndrome and liver disorders when consumed in excess. Additionally, drinking too much fruit juice may cause you to pack on pounds, due to its high sugar content.
Get the V8 Diet Right
Now that you know more about the potential benefits and drawbacks of the V8 juice cleanse, you might wonder how to do it right. After all, you don't want to end up losing your hard-earned muscle and putting your health at risk. The key is to incorporate this juice — or any other fruit and vegetable juice — into your daily menu.
V8 Original, for example, has a similar nutritional value as two servings of vegetables. Swap one or more daily snacks with this beverage to reduce your calorie intake and get more nutrients in your diet.
Let's take air-popped popcorn, for instance. This snack boasts 93 calories, 3.1 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat and 18.6 grams of carbs, including 3.5 grams of fiber and 0.2 grams of sugar per serving (three cups). V8 Original, on the other hand, provides 45 calories, 2 grams of protein and 9 grams of carbs, including 1 gram of fiber and 7 grams of sugars per serving.
As you see, V8 juice is lower in calories and carbs than air-popped popcorn. It also contains less protein and fiber, but you can get these nutrients from other sources. If you substitute V8 for popcorn, you'll cut 48 calories and 9.6 grams of carbs. It may not seem much, but imagine how many calories you'll save by replacing chips, cookies, candies, bagels and other snacks with vegetable juice.
Additionally, vegetables support weight loss and may help prevent obesity, according to a November 2018 review published in the journal Nutrients. In clinical trials, higher vegetable intakes were associated with the lowest risk of weight gain. As the researchers point out, diets rich in vegetables can make it easier to maintain a healthy weight and even cause modest weight loss.
Read more: 10 Sneaky Ways to Eat More Vegetables
Another option is to replace one or more meals with V8 Original. This beverage makes a healthy choice on those days when you're too busy to cook breakfast or lunch. Plus, it's more nutritious than a sandwich, a slice of pizza, a candy bar and other comfort foods. The V8 range includes dozens of natural juices, so go ahead and experiment with new flavors to keep your diet varied.
- Campbells: "V8® Original"
- Health.gov: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables"
- Campbells: "V8 Pomegranate Blueberry"
- Campbells: "V8 Caribbean Greens"
- NCBI: Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics: "Detox Diets for Toxin Elimination and Weight Management: A Critical Review of the Evidence"
- ACSM: "Protein Intake for Optimal Muscle Maintenance"
- Association of UK Dieticians: "Detox Diets"
- JAMA Network: "Are Fruit Juices Just as Unhealthy as Sugar-Sweetened Beverages?"
- NCBI: American Journal of Public Health: "Reducing Childhood Obesity by Eliminating 100% Fruit Juice"
- USDA: "Air-Popped Popcorn"
- MDPI: Nutrients: "The Relationship Between Vegetable Intake and Weight Outcomes: A Systematic Review of Cohort Studies"