08 July, 2011
Should I Juice if I Am on a Low-Carb Diet?
Juicing is promoted as a quick way to get all the nutrients from fruits and vegetables when you don't have enough time to chow down on large quantities of produce. Depending on your carb restrictions, dietary goals and juice recipes, juicing could be compatible with a low-carb diet. Very-low-carb diets don't leave much room for juice, but you may spend some of your carb allotment on vegetable juice if you're on a moderately low-carb plan. Juice made mostly with fruit should be avoided when you're watching your carb intake, though; it leaves you with a straight shot of carbohydrates and no fiber to slow digestion and absorption of the sugars.
Low-Carb Diet Restrictions
Low-carb diets vary in their restriction of carbohydrates. A moderately low-carb diet calls for you to limit carbs to 100 to 150 grams per day. To put this in perspective, your daily diet might consist mostly of eggs, meat, fish and poultry with a cup of brown rice, a cup of blueberries and a small baked potato as well as the trace carbs found in nonstarchy vegetables, some cheese and sauces. You might have a glass of fresh vegetable juice, or a blend of fruit and vegetables, on such a plan.
An extremely low-carb diet limits you to 50 grams or fewer of carbs per day. You're limited to mostly animal proteins, healthy fats and watery, fibrous vegetables. Any juice, no matter how fresh and nutritious, will likely cause you to overshoot your carb restrictions for the day.
What's the Matter With Juicing?
Fruit is good for you and lower in carbs than starchy baked goods, but it still contains a fair number of carbohydrates per serving. The carbs in fruit come from its sugar and fiber content. Fiber isn't digestible, so you subtract it from a food's total carbohydrate count when you're computing grams on a low-carb diet. That gives you net carbs, the digestible carbs that impact your blood sugar and that matter on a low-carb plan.
When you juice, however, you extract this fiber and leave only the sugar and water from the produce. Vegetable juices are less of a concern because they contain significantly less sugar than fruits, but fruit -- as well as beet and carrot juice -- can be too sugar-heavy to include in a low-carb diet.
Carb Content in Juice
A 4-ounce glass of fresh orange juice contains 12 grams of net carbs. Other fruit juices are comparably high in net carbs. You get 14 grams of net carbs in 4 ounces of apple juice and 16 grams in 4 ounces of pineapple juice.
Mixed fruit and vegetable juices usually contain about 15 grams of net carbs per 4 ounces. If you stick to an all-vegetable juice, you'll get a lower carb count. A juice made with romaine, parsley, ginger root, celery and fresh basil offers just 5 grams of net carbs per 4 ounces, for example. Add a carrot, small Granny Smith apple and beet to the mix and you double the net carb count.
Consider How You Spend Your Carbs
How you spend your carbs makes a difference on a low-carb diet. Considering juices go down quickly and do little to squelch your hunger, you might be better off spending your net carb grams on whole foods. With whole produce, for example, you get all the fiber, plus the process of chewing is usually more satisfying. A medium, whole apple contains about 10 grams of net carbs, compared to the 28 grams of net carbs in 1 cup of the juice. You also get far more vitamins, such as A and C, in the whole fruit.
Even if you're on a moderately low-carb plan, foods such as whole grains and starchy vegetables may offer more nutrients than a concentrated glass of juice with an equal amount of carbs. Juicing too often can be an issue for people with certain health conditions, including kidney disease or diabetes.
- belchonock/iStock/Getty Images