Food trends and fad diets are a common occurrence in today’s culture. We would all love to have a quick fix. To find the one thing that will finally shrink our waistline and end the growing obesity rates. Unfortunately many of those searches for the holy grail end up being more of a wild goose chase than they are finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Is juicing good for you? What about all of the other latest trends. Can they deliver on their promises and just how healthy are they?
Is Juicing Good for You? Not Really, and Smoothies aren’t that Great Either
Contrary to popular opinion I would debate that you cannot call juice a health food. Not even the wheat grass, kale, spinach and lemon grass shot that tastes like fresh lawn clippings, is a health drink.
Far be it from me to tell you not to indulge in a little wheat grass juice. If you enjoy it by all means please partake. You may want to do so sparingly.
If you read the article ‘Should I Eat a Low Carb Diet‘ you are aware that whole fruits and vegetables contain slow-release carbohydrates and fiber. The fiber slows digestion and reduces the risk of storing it as body fat.
When you separate the juice from the whole food you keep the sugars and vitamins and lose the pulp and fiber. That fiber helps you feel full so you are less likely to eat more calories than you would drink.
That fiber also slows your digestion rate. Without it around you increase the rate at which you turn the sugar into fat. The impact isn’t as bad as slurping a coke with a whopping 16 tablespoons of sugar but it isn’t great either. You’re better off eating kale than juicing it.
As for smoothies, they might be better than juicing as long as you don’t add other things with additional sugar but only marginally. The act of blending damages the fiber for you compromising its buffering capabilities. Blending is still faster access to sugar than eating the food whole. If fat loss is your goal eating the whole food is the better option.
All Fats and Proteins – The Ketone diet
Studies from several clinics demonstrated that a diet that was extremely low in carbohydrates and forced a release of ketones in the body helped their morbidly obese patients to lose weight and keep it off for more than a year. It has since become popular in bodybuilding and bikini competitor circles as a way to lean out and achieve extremely low body fat percentages.
The diet consists of eating higher levels of protein and fat with little to almost no carbohydrates. Because our bodies have a difficult time using protein and fat as an energy source it forces us to resort to burning body fat for fuel. It sounds wonderful in principle but it carries its own set of risks.
Certain areas of the brain cannot operate without carbohydrates and without incoming carbohydrates blood sugar levels stay fairly low. You can expect to experience symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and shifting mood swings.
There is also the risk of temporary to permanent kidney damage. In order for our bodies to burn fat it has to release ketones (thus the name of the diet). Ketones are toxic at certain levels so your kidneys go into overdrive trying to flush them out.
Successful use of this type of diet requires strict adherence to the program. Because of the health risks it should only be attempted under the recommendation and supervision of a qualified health professional. If you aren’t morbidly obese and are looking to lose weight, lose body fat or lean out there are other healthier options to achieve similar results that don’t risk your kidneys or long-term health.
Greasy Coffee Anyone? – Bulletproof coffee
Once we got over the idea that fat is terribly bad we jumped on the opposite end of the bandwagon with you must eat fat to burn fat! Can we land perhaps somewhere in the middle?
Butter isn’t terribly bad for you but it isn’t great either. It is higher in saturated fat than other healthy fat sources like fish, olive oil, nuts or avocados. If you like butter in your coffee then go for it but you should probably watch the rest of your fat intake for the day. If you were doing this to try to meet your fat intake requirements there are certainly other, more palatable options.
Pass the Bread – Going Gluten free
Refined grains contain fast-energy carbohydrates making them problematic in large quantities. On contrast whole grains such as whole wheat have slower burning properties than the refined counterparts. They are also a significant source of dietary fiber, natures buffer to insulin surges and your bodies cleaning agent.
Foods packaged as ‘gluten-free’ typically add in fast burning carbohydrate sources to compensate for missing binding and flavor agents. Instead of getting healthier the impact is usually the opposite with the added bonus of a bigger waistline.
Eliminating refined grains such as those found in processed foods is a better option than completely eliminating all grains that contain gluten. Keep in mind that whole grain portion sizes are usually smaller than most would expect. The average woman only needs about 1/2 cup of whole grain (or 1 slice of whole grain bread) per day.
Is There a Diet Trend that is Worth It?
Just like there isn’t a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow there isn’t ‘one’ thing that will improve your health or help you lose the weight. Looking for the quick answer will almost always result in disappointment and can even make things worse. Eating a balanced diet of whole foods and staying active is better for long-term health than going overboard trying to add in uncommon concoctions such as greasy coffee and wheat grass. Plus, it tastes better.
- Healthline, Juicing versus Blending, Which is Better for Me? Peggy Pletcher, MS, RD, LD, CDE, February 9, 2016, http://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/juicing-vs-blending#2
- ChooseMyPlate.gov, October 18, 2016, https://www.choosemyplate.gov/grains
- Everyday Health, Why Bulletproof Coffee is Bad for Your Health, Johannah Sakimura, RD, January 13, 2015, http://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/johannah-sakimura-nutrition-sleuth/dont-bank-on-bulletproof-coffee-for-good-health/
- Healthline News, The Keto Diet is Gaining Popularity, but is it Safe?, Liz Seegert, June 7, 2016, http://www.healthline.com/health-news/keto-diet-is-gaining-popularity-but-is-it-safe-121914#5
- Mayo Clinic, Is Juicing Healthier than Eating Whole Fruits and Vegetables, Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D., http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/juicing/faq-20058020