Juicing versus Smoothies: Which Is Best for You?

Berry SmoothieI’m a huge protein shake and smoothie junkie. Recently, however, there has been major movement towards “juicing.” A lot of raw foodies and vegans love it and have been sharing their juicing ideals, claiming it provides for optimal health. Personally, I prefer shakes and smoothies, but I think there is merit to both.  In order to understand what is best for you, I’ve discussed the benefits of each.

Juicing versus Smoothie Preparation

First, let’s discuss how juicing differs from preparing smoothies.  Juicing involves taking vegetables and fruit and using a special juice extractor or citrus press to extract ONLY the juice of these foods, while a smoothie or “shake” is made in a blender (I personally love my “Magic Bullet“) and comprises all parts of the food, including the fiber and pulp. Now, all of what we discuss here is for homemade smoothies, shakes and juices.

Benefits of Juicing

Proponents of juicing claim the following benefits:

  1. Juice Allows for Faster Absorption of Nutrients: Because there is no fiber, they claim that juicing fruit and vegetables provides the most concentrated and readily absorbed source of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Removing fiber from the food means that there is hardly any digestive work needed to process the food.  Proponents also claim that most of us have impaired digestion and that are bodies are limited in absorbing all the nutrients from the fruit and vegetables. They believe that juicing helps to “pre-digest” them for you, so you will receive increased nutrition.
  2. Juice Provides More Fruit and Veggies, More Easily. Because it takes A LOT of veggies or fruit to make an ounce of juice, you supposedly get a lot more fruit and vegetables into your diet. Further, because some people find eating fruit and vegetables difficult, it supposedly is more easy to consume them through juice.
  3. Juice Promotes More Varied Intake of Fruit and Vegetables. Because many people tend to eat the same fruit or veggies a day, juicing supposedly helps you get in a wider variety that you might not normally consume.  Your nutrient intake, as a result, is much better and more completely covered.
  4. Juice is Nutrient Dense. A good amount of what you eat when you eat fruit and vegetables is water, vitamins and minerals, AND fiber.  However, when you remove the fiber, all you get is the water and vitamins and minerals.  This concentration is said to supercharge the system with phytonutrients which are important in warding off disease, cancer and other degenerative illnesses.
  5. Juice Cleans Your Liver. Proponents of juicing claim that juice helps to detoxify and de-sludge our liver.
  6. Juice Helps with Anti-Depression. As a result of the high concentration of minerals contained in juice, such as magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, and folic acid, there is reason to believe that juicing can help fight symptoms of depression.
  7. Juice Helps with Anti-Aging. As a result of the high concentration of antioxidants in juice, they believe that consuming juice can combat the damaging effects that free radicals have on skin, muscle and our internal organs. Antioxidants also help to ward off wrinkles and keep muscles toned.

Benefits of Smoothies and Shakes

As I mentioned earlier, I’m a bigger fan of smoothies.  Here is why:

  1. Smoothies are a Meal. You can easily add protein ingredients (yogurt, milk, whey, eggs) to the smoothie or shake, making it a more balanced, nutritious meal.
  2. Smoothies Stabilize Blood Sugar and Energy Levels. Because smoothies contain fiber, the sugar and calories from smoothies are more slowly absorbed into the blood stream.  As a result, your blood sugar levels remain stable and so does your energy. Juice, however, gives you a jolt of energy and vitality.
  3. Smoothies Fill You Up. Since smoothies contain fiber, you will feel full longer.  High fiber content means longer time to digest, meaning you won’t become hungry very quickly.
  4. Smoothies Promote Regularity. Because of the fiber, smoothies help keep your digestive tract moving and provide “good” bacteria needed for good digestion.
  5. Smoothies Promote Weight Loss. Juice goes down quickly, is digested quickly and is absorbed into the blood stream quickly.  What does that mean? You become hungry and need more food quickly.  Smoothies, however, because of all of the things mentioned above, keep you feeling full and less hungry, helping you to stave off cravings and hunger pains. Further, since juicing requires many fruit and vegetables, the juice – ounce for ounce – is higher in calories and sugar than a smoothie.
  6. Smoothies Are Nutritious. The fruit and vegetables you use for a smoothie all contain the same vitamins and minerals you get when you juice them. You still get all of the antioxidants and age-fighting benefits. So, although they may not give you such a high potency as juice, smoothies provide benefits of both #6 and #7 under Juicing.
  7. Smoothies Cost Less. It takes less fruit and vegetables to make a smoothie than it does to make a juice.  Further, juicing requires more expensive, more messy equipment than preparing smoothies.

In short, if you are looking for a jolt of energy, vitamins and minerals, and don’t care about tons of calories, juicing might be the answer. Just be sure to get enough fiber in your diet (25 grams minimum) through other sources.  If you want a more balanced food source or meal, are watching your weight and are interested in staying regular through the foods you eat, smoothies are a better option.

Do you juice? Do you have smoothies? Which do you like better?

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  • sheldon780

    Tons of calories in a smoothie? Yeah maybe from booster juice or something, still way way way better than grabbing a big mac or even a home cooked burger!

  • lynn

    I am a big fan of smoothies. I recently purchased a juicer and thought it would be a good change. I did not like the taste of juicing. End up with way too much fruit to my liking. I think I can get more out of smoothies with the same amount of veggies just an opinion on my part. Thanks for putting this out there!!!!

  • dgfitness

    I think your comments are not open minded and one way. I personally do both daily and enjoy benefits of both

    • brettblumenthal

      dgfitness…I actually talk about the benefits of both. Hopefully you see that! Enjoy!

  • Cloud 7

    The juicer’s are just too cumbersome and I feel so wasteful. One of the points to “juicing” is to eat the live food immediately, so that kind of “throws away” the idea of saving for later. Also, I blend what I would juice, so no biggie, just more pulp.

  • Criss Charming

    I’ve tried both juicing and smoothies, both for cutting weight, and with 3 weeks of juicing I lost about 10 pounds, had great energy, and was ‘satisfied’ as far as hunger went. I tried smoothies for 3 weeks as well, and unfortunately haven’t lost a pound, and I feel bloated. I have switched up what I had been putting in the smoothies and didn’t have much of a change. I work out with intense weight training as well as cardio, and at the gym I feel a little sluggish, not being able to push my limits as much as I did when I juiced. I used other means of getting energy such as tea and coffee. I have noticed though, that even when I push myself hard, my soreness level is dramatically lower than when I juiced. That is most likely from the bananas being in the smoothies. As far as protein goes, there is a good amount of protein in the smoothies, but they are incomplete. In order for the proteins to be complete, I need the amino acids, which most non-animal protein doesn’t provide (other than soy and quinoa). The fiber doenst seem to be an issue when i juice. i am more regular when i juice than when i make smoothies. Everyone’s body and fitness goals are going to be different, for me, I gain muscle and weight fairly easily, but cutting weight is difficult. So for my body type and goals, juicing is for me. Hope this helps some people out! Take in consideration whether you are trying to cut or lose weight, or whether you’re looking to gain some muscle to tone up. Also consider whether you gain muscle mass easier or not. It makes a huge difference.

    • brettblumenthal

      Criss, thanks for your thorough analysis! You are so right. Each of us is unique. I’m curious. When you juiced, were you only eating that way? Meaning, were you essentially on a juice cleanse? And same when you did smoothies? When you did smoothies, it sounds as though you added protein powder. Did you try smoothies with just the fruit and no added protein? BTW, the protein in the smoothie might have also contributed to your quicker recovery. Protein is going to repair muscles faster than just the juice. All very interesting!

  • Melissa Bellemare

    I think this is completely one sided.. both have advantages.

    I use both for different reasons and even combine the two. I rarely put fruit in my juice and only use veggies. It gives me amazing energy boosts and I feel great (and no, I am not hungry afterwards and juiced veggies are quite lower in calories then a smoothies). I don’t throw the fibre away but use it in other recipes (like raw crackers or muffins etc)
    For fruits, I make smoothies and will often add juice that I juiced to my smoothies for extra nutrients.

    • brettblumenthal

      It’s great you find ways to reuse your fiber. That said, given there are benefits listed for both, I’m not really sure why you think it is one sided. Although veggie juices are lower calories than in fruit, there is no denying that it takes a LOT more vegetables to make one serving of juice…and there are more calories in the juice than there would be in eating a single serving of a whole vegetable. It is just a fact.

  • Michelle

    I choose smoothies. I don’t have a juicer, so my blender is perfect. Less money and less waste, too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tanyalundberg Tanya Juarez Lundberg

    You don’t have to add animal products to your smoothies for protein, plant food has tons of protein! :)

    • brettblumenthal

      Great point Tanya. There are a lot of vegetable based protein powders that give smoothies an extra protein boost! (look for Hemp and Soy)

  • sonia cornwalltomach

    smoothies make my stomach feel heavy and bloated.With juicing it hits the bloodstream right away giving you a jolt of energy. I will still make smoothies, i need the fiber!

    • sonia cornwalltomach

      Are we really throwing away valuable fiber in juicing?

      • Brett

        I personally think so. I think fiber offers a lot of great benefits.

      • http://www.facebook.com/sitka.dmute Sitka d’Mute

        Totally! A healthy intestinal tract of course depends on fiber.

        And it’s not only fiber either… there are plenty of other nutrients still left as “waste” after juicing. Perhaps if you rinsed those remains and drank the resulting solution, you’d extract more and not be wasting quite so much good/nutricious food.

        Juicing strikes me as being a trendy fad. It’s really not holistic in nature.

      • Melissa Bellemare

        Why throw it away… there are many uses for the fiber in other recipes.

  • Darcey

    I find this very helpful. I love fruits and veggies and I thought that I had to buy a juicer however I can make smoothies. Low calorie of course.
    Thanks

  • http://Sheerbalance Lou austin

    What kind of weight loss logic is this? Unless you are going to give recipes how can you possibly say smoothies
    Are lower in calories than juice combinations designed to be low in calories?? I make a
    Combo that includes carrots beets celery cucumber Ginger root and spinach.
    The last smoothie I made 400 calories and I started with an almond milk base and peanut butter with a frozen banana.
    Delicious but no weight was lost on that regime. My refrigerator won’t hold enough vegetables to make 400 calories of juice.

    • Brett

      Thanks Lou for your comment! We have a lot of recipes. Check them out here: http://www.sheerbalance.com/nutrition-section/recipes/

    • K Toddy

      Exactly! And how can the nutrients in a smoothie with less vegetables be equivalent to a juice with 5 times the vegetables?? Plus, smoothies usually have yogurt (add calories) or milk (add calories) or protein powder (add calories). I don’t agree with the comparison at all. I am not hungry after having juice… I surmise it is because I am getting so many nutrients. It sounds like you haven’t tried both before writing this!

      • brettblumenthal

        There is a difference between juicing for weight loss and juicing. If you are really looking to lose weight, then vegetable juices and vegetable smoothies are a great way to do so. I’ve listed the benefits to both, and emphasize that people need to make decisions predicated on their own goals and preferences.

    • Yvette

      I made smoothies only using fruit and ice… gained 5 bps in less than a week. I used to use a juicer and lost weight. this was confusing to me too. I guess there are way to many calories and sugar in 60oz of juice… I do not eat a lot of fruits but love a blend and would drink over the day and eat a grilled boneless chicken breast for dinner…. Now on a REAL diet!!!

  • http://www.kyaniblueberry.com Tyron Kellar

    If you are consuming high amounts of protein be sure to drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.