Juicing can play a delicious role in helping you reach your health and wellness goals—with a few caveats. For one thing, juices are not meant to replace your regular meals. When you juice a fruit or vegetable, the liquid produced contains its vitamins and minerals but not the fiber, explains New York City-based dietitian Supriya Lal, R.D.
“Juices aren’t balanced with a variety of macronutrients,” she says. However, they can be a healthy add-on to your diet to help you increase your plant and vitamin intake.
It’s also wise to choose fruits and vegetables that are high in water content and aren’t sugar bombs, says Ashley Shaw, M.S., R.D., a registered dietitian at Preg Appetit.
And, lastly, if you have specific goals in mind, you want to blend specific ingredients—not just whatever tastes good—to help you achieve the best results.
Use these dietitian-approved tips to make sure you’re whipping up the right juices for your goals.
Juicing For Energy
Desperate to avoid the mid-afternoon slump? Dark greens are the way to go.
Leafy vegetables—like spinach, kale, arugula, bok choy, and collards—have high carotenoid content, says Lal. According to an article published in the journal Nature Communications, carotenoids act as antioxidants, blocking free radicals from harming tissues.
The real energy win here, though, is that dark greens are also rich in B vitamins, which help convert the calories found in food into energy our bodies can use, Lal adds. Fall short on these important nutrients and you may feel fatigued.
Lal recommends juicing multiple leafy greens together for the ultimate power-packed result. She likes to blend one cup each of spinach, kale, and Swiss chard, plus some sweet fruit like apple or pineapple to balance out the bitterness.
Juicing For Weight Loss
To lose weight, being in a calorie deficit is key. “The basic calculation is to consume 500 calories less per day than usual to equal a pound of weight loss per week,” says Shaw. Luckily, fruits and veggies are low in calories and rich in nutrients, so fresh-squeezed juice can be a great replacement to high-calorie snacks in between meals, she says.
When building your juice, Shaw recommends adding fruits and vegetables that are low in sugar, which are thus also low in calories. “Low sugar options include lemon and kiwi, which have 1.5 grams and six grams per fruit, respectively. Also, try choosing produce high in water content, like celery and cucumber, to ensure you are properly hydrating,” says Shaw.
Of course, an important aspect of weight loss is consistency, so find a good combination of fruit and vegetables that you enjoy and you’ll be more likely to stick to your journey.
Juicing For Glowing Skin
Many of the vitamins and phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables are beneficial for skin health, says Lal. Vitamin C, for example, is known to stimulate the production of collagen, a protein that helps with skin firmness and elasticity, she says. It is found in many citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, as well as in guava, kiwi, and lychee. Meanwhile, carotenoids in produce like carrots, tomatoes, and spinach can support an even skin tone and help ward off irritation, Lal adds.
She recommends starting with one cup of dark greens for carotenoids. Then, add a couple root vegetables, such as carrots, for more of those antioxidants. Finally, add some vitamin C-rich fruits, such as lemon and grapefruit, for a punch of flavor. This powerful carotenoid and vitamin C combination will help you achieve healthy, naturally glowing skin.
Juicing For A Healthy Gut
When considering gut health, prebiotics and probiotics are essential ingredients for your juice.
“Probiotic foods introduce new, beneficial bacteria to the gut, while prebiotic foods provide nourishment for that good bacteria to thrive,” says Shaw. As a result, prebiotics and probiotics improve digestion and boost immunity, according to Harvard Health. While foods with probiotics are difficult to juice, foods rich in prebiotics, like apples and dandelion greens, are not.
Read More: How To Make The Best Smoothie For Your Goals
Shaw suggests starting with a couple of apples or a cup of greens as your base. You can also add prebiotic-rich onions and leeks, but if you do, incorporate flavorful beets, lemons, and celery to disguise the taste.
Though your juice won’t contain probiotics, it’ll still do your gut good. Shaw recommends drinking this prebiotic–rich juice in the morning and then eating foods high in probiotics, like sauerkraut, tempeh, and pickles, in the hours that follow. “Consuming prebiotic foods earlier in the day gives them a chance to be broken down by digestion so they can then better be utilized by the probiotics,” she adds.
Juicing For Endurance Exercise And Performance
In the fitness world, juices are a popular way to get all your nutrients from plant sources. Whether you’re training for a marathon, trying to cycle farther, or want to lift heavier, juices can play a key role in fueling your performance.
Beet juice, in particular, is a nutritional powerhouse, as it contains nitric oxide, vitamin C, and carotenoids, says Shaw. The nitrates present in beets help increase nitric oxide, which boosts blood flow to your working muscles, which then helps heighten cardiorespiratory performance.
Shaw recommends starting with a cup or two of beets as your base. Since beets have an intense earthy flavor, balance them out by adding sweeter fruits such as apples or mangoes. Then, finish the juice off with some sour or bitter vegetables, like greens or wheatgrass, to add a kick of flavor.