Dear Dietitian – Using smoothies and juicing for weight loss

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Published Saturday, January 30, 2021
PICT Leanne McCrate Dear Dietitian
by Leanne McCrate, RDN, LD, CNSC

Dear Dietitian:

I'm trying to lose twenty pounds. I drink a smoothie for breakfast every morning on my way to work. I've also been juicing because I've read it helps with weight loss. I've lost five pounds and feel good about it, but it seems like I'm always hungry! Help!

Laura

Dear Laura:

It is a good idea to eat breakfast when on a weight loss diet. Breakfast anchors your appetite for the remainder of the day and often protects against night-eating. Smoothies are a delicious way to start your day, but are they healthy? Many people use smoothies to increase their fruit and vegetable intake. The frothy drink typically contains fresh fruit, sometimes spinach or kale, fruit juice, cow's milk or a plant-based alternative, and sometimes honey. It seems pretty healthy, but like everything, calories vary. You can make a smoothie that is less than 100 calories or one that contains several hundred calories.

As the name implies, juicing is the process of squeezing juice from fruit, leaving the fiber, and consuming the juice. Some believe juicing will protect against cancer, boost the immune system, flush toxins from the body, and help with weight loss. One advertisement states it is the juice within the fiber that holds the healthy nutrients. There is no scientific evidence that juicing will provide any of the health benefits previously stated. In fact, research has found that the fiber in fruit is essential to good health. It's best to eat the whole fruit.

Juice bars have popped up as the latest "health" trend. These drinks provide extra vitamins, minerals, and often energy-boosting components. They are over-priced, similar to certain coffee drinks that have become so popular. I bought my niece one of these drinks. It was a watermelon-flavored drink that made you feel like you were one step closer to a tropical island, if you believed the advertising. The cost--eight dollars, including the tip! It was a one-time gift.

To lose weight, you simply have to take in fewer calories than you burn. That said, there are disadvantages to drinking your calories instead of eating them. Liquids move out of the stomach almost twice as quickly as solids, which may explain your hunger pangs. You may also need to add about two hundred calories a day to your intake, as your current plan could be too restrictive, which often backfires.

That said, my recommendation is to eat breakfast instead of drinking it. A meal of old-fashioned oatmeal (cooks in 5 minutes) with raisins, a piece of fruit, a slice of toast with peanut butter, and a calcium-containing beverage is delicious, satisfying, and will hold you until lunchtime. Use smoothies occasionally as a fun treat. 

Until next time, be healthy!

Dear Dietitian

Leanne McCrate, RDN, LD, CNSC, is an award-winning dietitian based in St. Louis, Missouri. Her mission is to educate consumers on sound, scientifically-based nutrition. Do you have a nutrition question? Email her today at deardietitian411@gmail.com. Dear Dietitian does not endorse any products, health programs, or diet plans.

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