“I’m running around the corner to grab a juice for lunch,” my friend called to me from across the room. “Want anything?”
“What else are you getting?” I asked her.
“Nothing. Just a juice—I’m trying to slim down a bit.”
While a fresh pressed juice is a great way to banish hunger between lunch and dinner, throwing back some green liquid from a bottle does not a meal make, I explained to her. It’s simply not healthy, even if you're trying to lose weight. Diet experts agree.
“The fresh fruits and veggies in juices are loaded with important vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that support overall health, but juices alone are not enough for a full meal due to the lack of many essential nutrients and calories,” explains Lauren Minchen MPH, RDN, CDN, a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist based in New York City. “Most beverages are also not a good source of protein or fats, which are essential for health and disease prevention. Chronic inadequate intake of the nutrients over time can lead to malnutrition, undesired weight loss and numerous diseases.”
But that doesn’t mean you have to kick your favorite juices to the curb. “Pairing your go-to elixirs with other whole foods is a great way to create a proper balanced meal,” explains Minchen. Here, she explains how.
A Greens-Based Juice
In most green juices, leafy veggies like kale and spinach are the star players, while lemon and spices like ginger and chili are cast in more of a supporting role. Creative Juice's No. 2 makes a killer rendition, but with a mere 120 calories, it may leave your stomach begging for more. Make your green juice into a satiating meal by adding some healthy fats and proteins to your plate. Minchin suggests munching on 1/4 cup of almonds and three slices of organic chicken breast. If you’re a vegetarian, enjoy your juice with a couscous, pomegranate and pine nut salad.
A Beet-Based Juice
The Heart Beet elixir from Philly-based juicery, Sip-n-Glo, is an earthy-sweet blend of beets, carrots, celery, apple, lemon and ginger that locals can’t seen to get enough of. If you’re sipping something similar for breakfast with hopes of staying satiated until noon, this 180-calorie concoction likely won’t do the trick–but it does make for a healthy snack. To incorporate your drink into a well rounded meal, Minchen suggests pairing it with a turkey, romaine, onion and guacamole sandwich on whole grain bread. “The beet juice provides vitamins C and A, while the sandwich complements it with protein, healthy fats and chlorophyll from the greens,” she explains.
An Apple-Based Juice
Concoctions reminiscent of Clover Juice's Gingersnap taste light and refreshing while providing healthy carbohydrates and a host of antioxidants. The only downside? These beverages lack fiber and protein, says Minchen. Munch on six 100% whole grain crackers topped with organic cheddar cheese to transform your juice on the go into a sit-down meal.
A Carrot-Based Juice
Made with carrots, oranges, pineapple, cucumber, turmeric and ginger, Evolution Fresh's Cold Pressed Organic Splendid Carrot offers a ton of vitamins, but barely any fat or protein. This juice’s high amount of sugar (32 grams) will likely spike your blood sugar, leaving you hankering for seconds as soon as it crashes. Ward off hunger by pairing your juice with a walnut and cranberry salad or 1/2 pita with grilled chicken, hummus and veggies. “The salad and pita each provide essential protein, fats and vitamins that boost immunity and support healthy skin, organs and general health,” explains Minchen.
A Citrus-Based Juice
California's leading cold-pressed juicery chain, Pressed Juicery, offers three different citrus-based drinks that may remind you of what you’re sipping at home. While all of them go down nice and easy on a hot day, they aren’t substantial enough to be called breakfast. Top a slice of whole grain toast with two sliced hard boiled eggs to add some much-needed protein, fiber and iron to your morning meal.
A Juice That Incorporates Nuts, Seeds or Legumes
Juices that incorporate nuts, seeds or legumes (like Juice Press' Sweet Pea & Almond) provide more healthy fats than typical fruit and veggie juices, says Minchen. “Eating a piece of fruit and five or six crackers or a salad with grilled chicken provides complementary protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants for a well-balanced meal.”