Smoothies versus Juicing...What's the difference and which is best for me?

Smoothies are so popular these days and it's no wonder, they are easy to make and drink and can be a sneaky way to fit more fruits and veggies into our day. Juicing is also very popular. You may have heard of a “juice fast” or a juice “cleanse”, where someone has nothing but juice for a period of time in hopes of “detoxing” or achieving weight loss. So what exactly is the difference between smoothies and juice? And do they make appropriate meal replacements?

Juicingis an easy way bump up your intake of fruits and vegetables.

  • A juicer is a machine that separates the juice of fresh fruits and vegetables from the pulp and fiber. Juicers do not use heat, so you are left with vitamin and mineral rich, raw juice.
  • With no pulp or fiber, juice is a concentrated source of carbohydrate that is very quickly absorbed.
  • It may cause your blood sugar to rise very quickly and leave you feeling hungry again soon. Because of that, raw juice is not an ideal meal replacement.

If you have diabetes and you are wanting to add fresh raw juice to your routine, it's best to say “no” to a restrictive “juice fast” and continue to eat whole foods with your raw juice to better manage blood sugars and ensure you're eating a well-balanced diet. While it's great to remove the unhealthy choices from our diet, “detox” diets or juice fasts are not needed as the kidneys and liver take care of eliminating the toxins in our bodies.

Stick with raw juices that are mostly vegetables, such as cucumber, spinach, kale and green apple to reduce the carbohydrate load. Be sure to talk with your doctor before you begin adding juice to your diet as many fresh, raw juices contain dark leafy greens that are high in Vitamin K and may interfere with certain medications.

Smoothies support digestive health and help slow the release of nutrients into the blood stream for a more gradual and even increase in blood sugar.

  • Nothing is removed from the smoothie and they are often more filling as you retain the fiber from fruits and vegetables.
  • Smoothies are typically much quicker to make than juice, with very little waste and they only require an inexpensive blender.
  • It's easy to transform a smoothie into a meal replacement by adding other ingredients such as protein powder, flaxseed meal, chia seed meal, fresh spinach, tofu, unsalted nut butter, raw unsalted nuts or unsweetened almond milk.

Although it's easier to add sources of protein and healthy fats to a smoothie, we still need to be cautious of what we're putting in our smoothies! If you are looking to fix up a smoothie for a meal replacement or as a means to help with weight loss, then it makes a difference what you are putting in it.

If you are watching carbohydrates and calories, avoid concentrated sweets like fruit juices or sweetened milk substitutes. Avoid whole-fat dairy such as ice cream or whole milk and be mindful of your serving size. Too much honey, agave or maple syrup can also add many unwanted calories and sugars. It's best to stick to a smoothie that has whole fruits, veggies, a lean source of protein and healthy fat.

Bottom line

  • For optimal blood sugar control, fruits and vegetables in their whole form are best as they are naturally low in calories and contain fiber.
  • When you're in the mood for a smoothie, choose one that's high in fiber and low in concentrated sweets, as an occasional meal replacement. Watch your serving size and add a source of lean protein to your smoothie to help control blood sugars and to leave you feeling more satisfied.
  • Be cautious of juice, raw or bottled, as it may spike your blood sugar. If you choose to have some raw juice, choose a vegetable-based recipe and limit your serving size to ½ cup. Enjoy it with a protein-rich snack and carefully monitor your blood sugar.

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