30 Mar Are You Losing Out With A Liquid Lunch?
By Taylor D’Anna, RD, Contributing Blogger
Step into any home-goods store and you will see displays for NutriBullets and Vitamix’s advertising the benefits of juicing. The idea seems perfect! Throw copious amounts of super foods into the blender and get a day’s worth of nutrients in your 10 ounce tumbler. With claims to break down foods to their most absorbable state, help you power through your workout, or even to help you lose weight, liquid lunches have become a staple in the diet of many Americans. But, are these quick “meals” really liquid gold?
The Downsides of Juicing
Lack of Protein
Juices are full of carbohydrates and often lack the protein needed in a complete meal. Incorporating a lean source of protein can help you feel full and maintain your energy levels throughout the second half of your workday. Consuming adequate protein is important to help maintain your metabolism and lean muscle mass.
Loss of Fiber
But what about the fiber? Although vegetables and fruits are naturally high in fiber, most of the fiber is actually found in the pulp that is discarded after juicing . Without adequate fiber and protein, you may feel the need to binge on not-so-healthy foods to feel full, and this could even set you up for yo-yo dieting.
Blood Sugar Spikes
For the average juicer, it may be tempting to use a high ratio of fruits to vegetables to create a sweet drink. The problem is that these drinks lack fiber, which means the large amount of sugar is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, causing a surge in blood sugar followed by a crash.
The average juicer costs between $50 to $120. Combine that with the cost of purchasing large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, and you have quite the expensive habit!
What About Smoothies?
The smoothie is another trendy drink that you will see bottled and sold at your local convenience store. With parents struggling to pack healthy lunches and snacks, a pre-packaged smoothie drink seems like a great alternative to the soggy PB&J. However, these “health” drinks are the perfect hiding place for added sugars. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends consuming no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day for children and 48 grams of sugar for the average adult. One 15.2 ounce Naked brand Double Berry Protein Smoothie contains 420 calories and 55 grams of sugar, while a Smucker’s Brand Whole Wheat PB and Raspberry Uncrustable contains just 210 calories and 9 grams of sugar. But, what if you stop by your local smoothie place for a “light” pre-workout treat? A small Strawberry Surf Rider Smoothie from Jamba Juice will run you 320 calories, 70 grams of sugar, and just 3g grams of dietary fiber. Yikes!
The Bottom Line
Liquid lunches have become a popular alternative to the grab-and-go sandwich or salad trend. If you have to pick up a liquid meal, read the labels or ask for the nutrition facts. Or, better yet, create your own smoothie at home. Combine Greek yogurt, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables and blend!
Taylor D’Anna is a Registered Dietitian in the New York City Area. An avid foodie, she enjoys cooking, recipe development, and taking pictures of everything that she eats! Taylor has written for numerous online publications including Hudson Valley Magazine, Westchester Magazine, and Women’s Health. She has also been featured on Fios 1 News. Follow her on Instagram @taylor.made.nutrition.