Fueled by a $5 billion dollar industry that continues to grow 5 to 8 percent annually, juicing is being promoted by many as a useful strategy for weight loss. But the trend of extracting the liquid from produce is not widely recommended within the medical and surgical weight-loss community.
"Juicing in general reduces the fiber content and therefore decreases the feeling of fullness gained by eating fresh, crisp fruits and vegetables," said Ashley Barrient, MEd, LPC, RD, LDN, dietitian, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care in Melrose Park, Ill. "Patients who consume whole fruit and vegetables report greater fullness and overall satisfaction with their diet." Barrient specializes in working with weight-loss patients.
For those who have undergone surgical weight loss, juicing can pose many risks. "The concentrated sugar and caloric content of juice can result in "Dumping Syndrome," which includes diarrhea, rapid pulse, cold sweats, nausea and uncomfortable abdominal fullness," Barrient said.
The sugar and calorie content of juice is much greater than the sugar content of whole fruit and vegetables, and it takes several pieces of produce to make an average-size juice portion. "Most of the patients in the Loyola program incorporate whole fruit back into their diet one to two months following surgery," she said. "Appropriately portioned fruit, meaning half of a banana or a half-cup of berries, is digested well by surgical weight-loss patients."
The concentrated sugar and caloric content of juicing also discourages weight loss after surgery and increases the risk for regaining weight in the future.
"Aim for a diet rich in lean protein and dairy, fruits and vegetables and ensure adequate water intake," Barrient said. She also emphasizes that supplementing diet with required vitamins and minerals is a lifetime requirement following weight-loss surgery.
"The most successful diets are those that can be sustained," Barrient said. "For most people, juicing is a trend and trends do not last."