Integrative Nutrition Blog

Juicing vs. Blending: What You Need to Know

June 25, 2015

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Summer’s here, which means it’s the perfect time to enjoy fresh juice and cooling smoothies! 

To say juices and smoothies are having a moment right now would be an understatement. They’re so popular that lots of people are even doing cleanses where they only drink juices or smoothies, or some combination of both. 

The goal is to detoxify the body and give the digestive system a rest while fighting inflammation and other chronic conditions. Even if you’re not on a cleanse, juices and smoothies can be a great way to pack in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in one refreshing drink. 

I love juices and smoothies, and I lost 15 pounds when I started drinking more of them. I really like adding coconut to them and keeping the sugar content low.

I wake up in the morning and drink a green juice or smoothie, but I won’t drink it if it doesn’t taste good. The secret is putting a bunch of amazing stuff in it, like coconut. When you remove something, like sugar in this case, you have to add something back in. A lot of healthy fat works well for me. 

But what’s the difference between juices and smoothies? And is one better? 

Both juices and smoothies are delicious, but smoothies feel more like a meal because they’re usually thick and chewy. On the other hand, some people find juices tastier because the flavors are more concentrated. 

A big difference between juices and smoothies is the fiber content. When you make a juice, you have this big pile of pulp left. That’s all the fiber that usually goes into your digestive system and moves things along. 

When you make a smoothie, you’re blending whole fruits and vegetables, so all that great fiber goes into your body. We definitely need fiber to keep our digestive systems healthy, so it’s important to make sure you’re either having smoothies often or getting fiber from another source. 

On the other hand, the nutrients in juices are absorbed more quickly in many cases, which is a pro. Since there is no fiber in juices to slow down the absorption process, all of the nutrients and antioxidants go directly into the bloodstream. 

The downside? Juices often contain a lot of sugar too, and because they have no fiber, they lead to a spike in blood sugar followed by a crash. Smoothies slow down this process because they have fiber in them, creating a steady release of energy rather than a quick spike and crash. 

The key to drinking juices without experiencing blood sugar spikes, energy dips, and cravings is using a very minimal amount of fruit, if any, and adding protein and/or fat to your drink. Especially fruit juice has an extremely high glycemic index, giving a temporary boost of energy followed by a crash. Some vegetable juices even have high sugar content, like those with beets and carrots.

To keep your juices low in sugar, follow these tips: 

  1. Use one green apple at most if you need a little sweetness in your juice. The green ones have less sugar than red apples.
  2. Add fat like coconut milk, coconut oil, or even olive oil to your juice. Many well-known juice bars do this and it actually tastes amazing.
  3. Add chia seeds to your juice for a satisfying texture plus protein and fat to cushion the impact of any sugars and keep your energy high and stable. 

Another big factor for a lot of people is cost – juicers are expensive, and blenders cost less. When buying juices and smoothies out of the house, both are usually expensive. In general, smoothies are more cost-effective when made at home, but some people get such great benefits from juicing that they choose to invest in their health in this way. 

You either pay for healthy food and drink now or pay the doctor later on, right? We need health care, not sick care. Food creates our blood, and blood creates our cells.

By setting an example of health, self-development, and growth, you spread the ripple effect in a big way. Students at IIN learn much more about this approach, and about juices and smoothies too. 

Bio-individuality, my core concept that no one approach works for two people, is key here. One person’s juice is another person’s poison, so experiment to find which juices and/or smoothies work best for you. 

It’s also good to mix it up and drink both juices and smoothies for variation and nutrition. Each has their pros and cons and most people need both to thrive. 

What do you prefer, juices or smoothies? Or do you love both? Why or why not? Share in the comments below. 

Get social! Share this with your friends on Facebook and Twitter! 

Joshua Rosenthal, Founder, Director, and Primary Teacher of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition shares his wisdom about creating a healthy and happy life that helps transform the world.

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