The debate over whether smoothies or fresh unpasteurized juice is better will never go away—and there are people who feel very passionately one way or the other. I find this interesting, and I also think the debate is much like most nutrition debates. The “right answer” is that neither is better or worse than the other. What I always encourage people to consider when it comes to nutrition decisions is not just to learn what might be considered generically as a “healthy lifestyle,” but to apply concepts and information to themselves personally—-it’s what separates a person who has a “healthy lifestyle” from a person who “thrives.”
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather thrive (if you couldn’t tell by the name of this blog).
Juicing and smoothies are both great ways to consume more micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and other healthy nutritious compounds). When made with quality ingredients, tailored to meet a person’s specific needs, both smoothies and juice can be wonderful nutrient delivery systems (and they can taste great too).
The differences between the two are as follows:
1. Juicing requires more produce for the same quantity of end product (it’s more expensive than blending/smoothies)
2. Smoothies maintain fiber content (juice has none), and are more “filling”
3. Juicing requires more expensive equipment (smoothies can be made in a relatively cheap blender, but there are also very expensive blenders that allow for blending a wider variety of ingredients)
4. Clean-up for smoothies is easier and quicker (juicer clean-up can range from about 5 minutes to 15, depending on the juicer)
5. Juice contains more concentrated micronutrients that are delivered to your cells much more quickly and efficiently than smoothies
These are all important things to consider because buying equipment and intending to make juice or smoothies does not actually mean you’ll do it—you have to budget the time, money, and fridge space (and the motivation) to make it happen!
The main question I receive about juicing and smoothies is “which one is better?”
My response goes something like this:
Juicing is awesome. It’s like mainlining nutrients if you consume it on an empty stomach. Your body doesn’t have to do much work to absorb the nutrients. It is energizing, and if done first thing in the morning (after “fasting” since dinner), this allows the body more time to work on important detoxification and metabolism processes rather than switching over to digestion (which happens when you eat breakfast or drink a smoothie). For increasing energy, blasting the body with nutrients, clearer skin, and doing a mini-fast (or longer if you have the strategies and desire for that), juicing is an amazing tool.
Smoothies provide significant amounts of micronutrients too, and they’re packaged with fiber. Fiber, which is something most Americans need more of (the average American female gets less than 12 grams a day but the recommended amount is 25 grams or more), can be super high in a smoothie, depending on the ingredients you use. You can put greens and veggies in a smoothie, and start your work day having consumed a day’s worth of nutrients and veggies (but you don’t have to feel like you ate a salad for breakfast). You can add protein, fat, and other filling ingredients to a smoothie to keep you full for many hours and/or to help you strategically recover from a workout or meet certain macronutrient (carb, fat, protein) goals. When you’re on the go, a picky eater, or need to find a way to get more nutrient density in your diet, smoothies are an awesome choice.
How do you choose which one is right for you?
1. Ask yourself: What is your purpose? Choose smoothies if you’re not looking for benefits of fasting, if you’re having it after a workout, or if you want to bump up your fiber intake. Choose juice if you want benefits of putting off your daily digestion process, if you don’t like breakfast, or if you want super amounts of nutrients/energy in the morning!
2. Also, consider how much you want to spend on equipment and supplies. You can get a $75 blender that will last a while (if you don’t blend anything super tough), or you can spend $125 on a juicer (plus the additional cost of extra produce that juicing will require).
3. Consider how much time you have to prep your drinks! Some of my clients have restricted amounts of time in the morning to prep their breakfast, so it’s important to figure out which process you’re most likely to make a regular habit. There are few strategies to help with the time factor. For smoothies, you can even put (most) ingredients in the blender container in the evening, so that in the morning you can just blend, pour, and go…..and rinse the blender out! For juice, you can juice on the weekend, freeze in single serving containers, and just move one to the fridge each night before you go to bed so it’s ready for you in the morning (note: juice will go bad after more than a day in the fridge and lose nutrient density!).
4. Identify your health issues, and find out which method might be most appropriate for those issues. For example, If you have constipation, you may want to start with smoothies to get things moving (a la fiber content), but if you have the ever elusive “IBS” diagnosis, the fiber in the smoothies may cause you to have gastrointestinal issues (and if this is the case, you should do an elimination diet!). Do you have a serious disease or condition? Cancer? Obesity? Diabetes? All of these factors should be taken into account because they will impact what you put in your smoothies and/or juice (for example, if you’re diabetic, you won’t want an all-fruit juice or smoothie!), and which one may be better for you. My advice, if you’re confused on this point, is to ask a professional for help in figuring it out!
Overall, I like both smoothies and juice, and I don’t think one is better than the other in a general—they’re different and wonderful all in their own ways. I think, though, that they will always be compared to each other, and this is ok too. Many people become very passionate about one technique or the other, and I like to maintain that not only are we all changing in our needs over time (and even at different times of the day!), but we all have different needs compared to each other. There really is no “right” approach.
As I’ve said before, I think trial and error is a great approach to reach our maximum “thrive-style” (vs. just plain old standard healthy lifestyle) goals, but before you run out and buy a Greenstar juicer or Vita-mix blender, you will want to assess which method you’ll most likely stick with and that will serve you best!
If you’ve been here at my blog before, you probably know that I conduct smoothie workshops, and the reason I do smoothies and not juice for my workshops is because I think it’s more accessible for most people. It’s also cheaper to provide samples, and the bottom line is that I really use my smoothie workshops as nutrition workshops—people come to learn how to make nutritious smoothies, and they leave having learned all kinds of things about micronutrients, ingredients, food and energy levels, sweeteners, cacao, nut butters, and more… I’m so sneaky, aren’t I?!
When helping a person map out (1) whether to make smoothies or juice and (2) what to include as ingredients, there are many questions to ask—there is strategy involved, and it can be fun if you let it be! I’ll follow up with a post describing a couple clients and which types of drinks/ingredients I would recommend for them.
What is your opinion about smoothies and/or juice?
Check Out Part II of this topic: Smoothies and Juice