This Or That? Juicing Vs Blending
After a two week french fry frenzy last spring, I knew I needed to make some dietary improvements. I realized how much my poor eating habits were affecting my mood and stamina. But all the changes I knew I should make sounded miserable and tortuous. Sipping only on water every day, nixing bread, avoiding treats? These things were my lifeblood! They were my happiness amid a stressful work day and whirlwind parenting fiascos.
I sought for more creative healthy snacks and began researching online. This is when I started to enjoy making smoothies and juices. I could put them together quickly, they are portable and satiating, and most importantly - they quench my thirst for sweets and soda.
The Question of Nutrition
As I became more passionate about trying new combinations, I also started to wonder about the nutritional benefits. They both come from fruits and vegetables, so clearly both are a great way to add more nutrition to the day. But is one better than the other?
Searching for answers, I had trouble finding a consensus on the issue. Some people claim smoothies are the top dog, others say juicing changed their lives. My personal belief after a year of using both is that the truth lays somewhere in the middle: both are great, for different reasons.
Let’s look at them both.
The Benefits Of Juicing
Juicing is when you press out all of the juices in veggies or fruits and discard all of the pulp to get a refreshing, highly concentrated juice. This is done using a juicer, which helps to get every bit of the juice out of each piece more effectively than if you were doing it with a manual press. It can even press the juice out of hard roots like carrots.
The primary benefit to juicing is that is removes all of the fiber from the drink. How can that be a good thing, you may be wondering? After all, we should all be getting plenty of fiber! That is true, but we don’t need it all the time. Our body needs other things that sometimes we also fail to get enough of, such as nutrients.
In a juice, the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are all that remain in the mixture. While these things end up in blended smoothies as well, the fiber has to be digested first to get all of those nutrients absorbed. Because the body is working to break that fiber down, only a percentage of the nutrients end up being used while the rest are expelled as waste.
Juicing is for when you want a mineral and vitamin dense drink that nourishes the body, which can be great for healing damage on an epigenetic level, recovering from a sickness or just keeping yourself in fighting form.I tend to do more juicing through the Fall and Winter months when I am less active and more prone to getting sick.
There is one downside to juicing - sugar consumption. Drinking pressed juices is an instant kick of sugar. Since your body doesn’t have to fight through fiber digestion, it’s getting an instant injection of naturally occurring sugars which can cause your blood sugar to spike. For anyone cautious of blood sugar content, beware. One way to curb this downside is to juice less fruits, and to use more vegetables. Focus on leafy greens like spinach, swiss chard, celery, kale, collard greens, and even broccoli. Their bitter tastes can be easily masked with a bit of lemon, fresh pineapple or apple added to your recipe.
The Benefits of Blended Smoothies
Blended smoothies are a combination of fruits, vegetables and liquid thrown into a blender and ground together into a thick, delicious drink. There are also shakes, which usually incorporate a source of protein. I would say the difference is that a smoothie is blueberries, spinach and yogurt with coconut water, while a shake is dried peanut butter, soy milk, banana and whey protein (both of these are delicious, by the way).
As mentioned before, smoothies aren’t the best for nutrient boosting. Sure, they have some and it is an excellent way to get more produce in your diet. But they serve a different set of functions.
First, it increases your access to fiber rich foods. This helps keep the bowels and stomach healthy, while also keeping your appetite suppressed. You want plenty of fiber in your day to day, but if slamming a bowl of veggies with every meal isn’t your style then this could be a great alternative.
Second, it acts as a meal replacement. I will admit that I have a tendency to skip meals if it conflicts with my schedule. Breakfast is my most often ignored food break, which leads to me scarfing down snacks all day long...not good.
Smoothies are quick to make, easy and filling. They can be taken with you anywhere and even saved for later in a work fridge. So if I am not up to making myself an egg white omelet with whole grain toast (my staple meal) then I can make a protein or produce heavy smoothie or shake instead.
Shakes are also a great addition to a serious training routine. I run and when I am training I run hard. I need more calories but find it tedious to plan full extra meals, especially ones with enough protein and nutrients to re-nourish my body and help me recover from each session.
Using a combination of smoothies for long runs and shakes for weight lifting has saved my life on more than one occasion. Plus, I have found my workouts becoming more efficient and my results really reflect that.
Juicing vs Blending: The Verdict
Neither is better than the other, not really. It comes down to what you need at the moment and I personally believe that you should use both to give your body all of the possible benefits. This is especially true of anyone who has a serious training schedule or works out a lot, because we all know how critical it is to get those gains.
Lauren Abbott is a wife, mom, writer, and fitness enthusiast. She has gained majority of experience writing and researching for NordicTrack, which has helped her branch out on her own as a writer. She loves all things healthy and fit and has found that writing about them a complementary pairing of her greatest passions. You can find Lauren on Twitter.