So unless you live under a rock I’m guessing you’ve recently heard someone talk about this amazing green juice they drink or these incredible smoothies they are whipping up on a daily basis. Of course they probably think their new drink concoctions are FANTASTIC and you should be drinking them too. (Side note: Isn’t always annoying how people get on their health kicks and they think EVERYONE should join them… End rant). So its been on your mind this whole juice business but let me guess you really have no idea what the difference between juice and a smoothie is and why you’d really want one over the other? That was definitely me awhile back and it took some digging for me to figure what what was what and why I’d want to be doing one vs the other.
My whole experience with this green drink business began in Hawaii of all places. I was on vacation with my fiancé and after 2 weeks in Hawaii we were starting to get a little board of all the go go go. We decided one night to lay low and watch a Netflix documentary (clearly we are wild and crazy). After much debate we ended up on Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. Talk about the wrong film to watch on vacation. We were eating like crap, not getting enough sleep, not exercising a ton, and just generally less healthy than usual. I don’t know about you but when you catch me in that mode I’m pretty easy to get on a new health kick and that’s exactly what this documentary did to me. It was eye opening and really incredible to see the benefits these peoples health had after switching to green juice. Its really kind of appalling the average American diet and if you haven’t yet figured out that your diet affects the way you feel on a daily basis and the injuries and illnesses that you’re plagued with then you should pick up Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead right away.
I’m headed off on a tangent here so let me bring it back. After watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead I started juicing right away and I kind of fell in love with it. I was feeling awesome and really enjoying the process of adding juice into my afternoons. But then I heard someone mention green smoothies and I was like well wait a minute, is that better? Should I be doing that instead? So I set off to do some research on what the differences were and to make your life easier, I’ll share that information with you. I’m nice like that.
What is Juice?
Juicing is the process of taking fruits and vegetables and removing the pulp (fiber) of the fruit or veggie leaving just liquid behind (juice). When you throw a piece of fruit or a vegetable into a juicer that juice is going to spit out 2 different things, the pulp from spout and juice from another. You can throw the pulp away, use it in other recipes (like carrot cake), or compost it on your garden.
Advantages of Juicing
* Its a great way to add new fruits and vegetables to your diet that you wouldn’t normally try. For example, I will sometimes throw a beet in my juicer (something I wouldn’t eat on its own) along with greens, an apple, and whatever else I’m juicing that day. I won’t even taste the beet but I’m getting the enzymes, vitamins, and antioxidants it provides.
* Its a great way to consume fruits and veggies that you couldn’t tolerate under regular circumstances. IE broccoli makes you gassy so you never consume it but you can throw a handful of it in your juicer and handle it just fine.
* Faster absorption. Because you are stripping away that fiber from the fruit or vegetable your body can absorb all the nutrients much much faster than it could otherwise. I notice an increase in energy very very quickly after drinking fresh juice. Its almost as though you are having a caffeinated beverage (at least for me).
* Quantity. In one 20 oz glass of juice you would be shocked to see the amount of veggies you can pack in there. Way more than you have ever eaten in a day would be my guess. To eat the same amount of veggies would take you quite a bit of time and determination. Juicing is quite a bit more efficient.
Disadvantages of Juicing
* Its more expensive than simply eating the whole fruit or veggie or even making a smoothie. Why? Remember the quantity advantage that I mentioned above? Quantity is a good thing but it means you are going to be buying a lot of spinach, kale, among other things and that ain’t cheap unless you’ve got your own garden. Not to mention you really want to be consuming organic produce which is even more expensive. That being said though, you can shop for things on sale, purchase fruits and veggies that are in season, and budget. What I mean by budget is this, you probably don’t bat an eye at going out to eat or grabbing a few cups of Starbucks in a week, maybe its time to adjust your priorities?
* When you juice, you no longer have a whole food. Remember that fiber I mentioned above, well when you juice its all gone. Fiber has a ton of important health benefits, specifically to cleanse your digestive track as it passes through plus it makes you feel really full. Additional benefits of fiber include: healthy bowel movements (sexy), protection against all kinds of diseases like heart disease and colon cancer, and detoxification (fiber removes circulating fats and toxins from your system (think of it like a night club bouncer escorting the drunk and disorderly patrons out of the club). You and I can always use more fiber.
* Time. Juicing takes more time than making a smoothie. You can’t make juice ahead of time (the enzymes start to degrade as soon as the juice is exposed to air, thereby decreasing the nutritional content) so first you have to stand there and feed all the fruit/veggies through the juicer (which isn’t a quick process) and then you need to drink it ASAP, and lastly you have to clean the juicer. Juicers have a lot of parts and they generally aren’t dishwasher safe so it takes a good 5-10 minutes to get it cleaned up. Some people just don’t have time for that everyday.
What’s a Smoothie?
Your probably familiar with a smoothie at this point. A smoothie is more of a thicker, sometimes chunkier consistency. A smoothie is the result of throwing entire fruits and vegetables in a blender and mixing them up with some kind of liquid (water, nut milks, etc).
Advantages of Smoothies
* Time. Its a whole lot quicker to throw a bunch of stuff in your blender, blend it for a couple minutes and then its done. Blenders are definitely easier to clean AND you can make a double or triple batch of a smoothie and it will keep in the fridge for 2 days or you could freeze individual portions to be consumed later.
* Fiber! I think we’ve established above why fiber is important and with a smoothie you are getting all of it. Fiber makes you feel fuller so I’ve found that a smoothie is a really good breakfast or afternoon snack.
* Cheaper and easier. The only equipment you need is a blender and most of us already have one of those lying around. In my opinion the best blender/juicer to use is the one you already own! If you find that you are making smoothies a part of your daily life consistently then maybe you want to upgrade to something like a Vitamix, but in the beginning you don’t need any fancy equipment.
* You can include bonus items like flax seed, chia seed, hemp seeds, etc without ever even noticing they are in there.
Disadvantages of Smoothies
* Texture. For some people this is not at all a disadvantage. Other people are weird about texture so it just depends on your personal preference. Using a high powered blender like a vitamix (my fav) will give you a creamier, more enjoyable smoothie, but until then you can just blend a little longer in a regular blender.
* Smaller quantity of fruits and veggies. Because its still a whole food you simply can’t consume as much in a sitting. That being said, my guess is that you are still going to get more vegetables in a smoothie than you would have consumed on your own.
* Takes longer to drink. Because smoothies are filled with fiber and your body absorbs them slower they simply take longer to drink. A glass of juice you can probably down in minutes, a smoothie is going to take a little longer. You can always throw it in a to go cup though and take it with you on the road.
I love fresh juice, I really do. The texture is more appealing to me than the texture of a smoothie, plus you can pour it over ice which I love. When I see the crazy amounts of greens I can get into a glass of juice I feel so proud of myself and know that there is no other way that I would consume that quantity of vegetables in a day ever. The big downside for me though is sugar. You have to be careful not too add too much fruit to your juice (a good ratio is 4:1 vegetables to fruit). Without the fiber of the fruit there to slow down digestion you get a huge spike of sugar to your system and we know that sugar isn’t doing any of us any favors and causes a whole host of issues.
So I’m certainly not anti juicing, I love a glass of fresh juice every now and again but its not my go to daily drink. Before or after a trip when I’m needing an energy boost or if I feel a sickness coming on I whip up some juice its just no longer my daily go to drink to get my veggie intake in. For me, smoothies are where its at. I’m consuming the whole fruit or veggie which I love plus I’m left feeling FULL. I’m also all about convenience and each batch of smoothie that I make provides me 2-3 servings which means, blend once for 2-3 breakfasts.
Bottom line: Start with whatever option you will ACTUALLY drink. I think had I started with smoothies I likely wouldn’t have been nearly as successful as if I had started with juice. Its definitely an acquired taste and I liked the way the juice tasted. Over time I became more adventurous and I loved the idea of making my breakfast ahead of time and just grabbing it and going. So if you think you’re more likely to be successful with juicing instead of smoothies, then start there and see where it takes you. Just keep in mind what we’ve talked about and check out one of my favorites, The Food Babe, to find out the potential pitfalls to avoid when juicing.