Thursday, March 28, 2013

Juice and Smoothies

It is fairly common knowledge that exercise is important to a balanced and healthy lifestyle. What some of us aren't keenly aware of is that what we fuel our body with is even more important than how we move it. We need to get good nutrition in before we can get increased mood and energy out. Many of us know that traditional dieting is not the answer and that we need to change our eating habits permanently rather than a 6 week jam out of special powders, bars and supplements. Nature provides us with what we need if we just find a way to utilize it all. A great way to get more fruits and vegetables into our daily routine is through juicing and, for some people, smoothies. There is so much nutritional buzz out there about increasing our vegetable and fruit intake and discussions about drinking juices and smoothies, so what's the difference and is one better than the other? Briefly, I will break it down for you.

Juicing is done with a "Juicer" and is basically the liquid that is extracted from fruits and vegetables. The pulp is left behind as waste, though many people do find uses for it and recycle. Because of the process there is no fiber to slow the process of absorption and the nutrients from these plants instantly hit the system. The vitamins and chlorophyll do not have to wait and are not diluted or buffered by fiber. For this reason you get an instant energy increase and your body can quickly benefit from all that green goodness you have just ingested. It is a juice in the traditional sense of the word, meaning it is a liquid and tends not to be very filling for many people.

Smoothies are blended drinks that can be made with a smoothie machine or items like the "Nutribullet" but generally don't need anything more technical than a household blender. Aside from fruits and vegetables there are different ingredients that are added such as various milks, yogurts and some protein choices like flax seed and chia seeds or even peanut butter. None of the fiber from the plants is extracted and whatever you put into the blender is what ends up in your smoothie. As you can imagine these are much more filling due to the ingredients and density. Because of those things however, there is a significant loss of nutritional impact. Much of the "goodness" is absorbed by the fiber and does not make the great impact that is made by juice. Smoothies are, however, more filling and higher in calories than juice.

So which do you choose? Should you choose one over the other? The answer depends on how you use them. Smoothies are a great post workout recovery drink and if you are careful with what you add, can be a decent meal replacement. You need to be vigilant in the amounts of sweet goodies you add and remember that too much fruit and creamy additives can cause spikes in your glucose and can add calories you didn't intend.
Vegetable juice is a wonderful way to start your day or get a pick me up. Some use it as a meal replacement or as a supplement to their daily diet. You can, if you choose, have several juices a day without having that too full feeling or worrying about too much sugar and hidden calories.
Again, most things thrive in balance, so why not alternate and see what works best for and with your body?

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