There are so many ways to make a healthy green juice. Green juices are typically made from green vegetables and fruit juice, and they’re sometimes mixed with other colorful fruits or vegetables. While green juices can be a healthy drink to reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and boost metabolism and energy for weight loss, choosing the wrong ingredients that usually claim to be “healthy” can quickly turn your drink into a high-sugar, high-calorie beverage.
To learn more about supposedly “healthy” green juice ingredients, we spoke with Susan Schachter, a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and co-founder of 120/Life. She says that fruit juice, sweetened nut-based milk, and sugary protein powders are the worst ingredients you could add to your green juices because they are high in sugar and calories. These ingredients can cause weight gain if consumed in excess. Read more about these unhealthy green juice ingredients below!
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1. Fruit Juice
If you love juice, you’re certainly not alone. As delicious as a cup of ultra-sweet fruit juice can be, the added sugars found in these highly processed varieties can take a serious toll on your health over time—and could lead to weight gain. The processed fruit juices at the grocery store are typically loaded with added sugar which can lead to bloating and a slower metabolism.
“Many green juices contain fruit juice, which can be high in sugar and calories. Consuming too much fruit juice can lead to weight gain, particularly if you are not burning off those calories through physical activity,” Schachter says. Added sugars are empty calories, meaning they pack on calories without adding nutritional value. Plus, when you eat sugar your body will use it for energy—but if you eat more than you need at that time, any extra gets stored as fat. That means adding sugary fruit juice to your green juice is definitely a bad idea for anyone looking to lose weight.
2. Sweetened Nut-Based Milk
Whether you’re vegan, lactose-intolerant, or just don’t like the taste of dairy milks, alternative milks, specifically nut-based ones like almond and oat milk, can offer protein, calcium, and low calories. However, certain varieties of alternative, nut-based milk can be detrimental to your weight loss goals—especially flavored, sweetened ones.
“Nut milk such as almond or cashew milk can be a healthy addition to green juices, but sweetened versions can be high in added sugars and calories,” Schachter adds. Although they might taste great in your cup of joe, these creamy alternative milks could lead to weight gain if they have added sugars. So, it’s probably best to avoid adding the sweetened variety to your green juice.
3. Sugary Protein Powders
Another “healthy” ingredient that actually can lead to weight gain is sweetened protein powders. While these nutritional supplements can help build muscle, repair tissue, and aid in weight loss, it’s important to keep in mind that not all protein powders are created equal. There are many different types of protein powders, including dairy-based and plant-based powders. Choosing the right kind is crucial to your overall health and weight loss plans. Specifically, there’s one type in particular that, although tasty, could lead to a range of health complications over time—protein powder that contains artificial sweeteners.
“Some green juices are fortified with protein powder, but sweetened varieties can be high in calories and contribute to weight gain if consumed in excess,” Schachter stresses. Overall, it’s clear that protein powders that are excessively sweetened with sugar should be avoided for weight loss and your general health.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know the unhealthy ingredients to avoid, what should you add to your green juice instead? Schachter recommends “whole foods over processed powders or supplements whenever possible,” and to “be mindful of portion sizes and try not to consume excessive amounts of sugar or calories.” She also says to try including vegetables like celery or cucumber for added hydration and nutrients. And, if you’re still not sure, check out these 4 fiber-packed juice recipes you can drink to slim down.