Is Juicing Paleo? Or Even Healthy? Hint: it’s in the glycemic load… Part I

Is Juicing Paleo? Or Even Healthy? Hint: it’s in the glycemic load… Part IWe’ve all done it.

We’re rushing out of the house in a hurry and rather than making time to eat a properly balanced meal, we decide to stop off at the local juice bar to grab a ‘healthy’ meal to go.

But is this really a good idea?

It’s easy to think so. After all, when we walk into a juice shop and see phrases and words we identify as healthy like cold-pressed, natural, organic or alkaline, we’re conditioned to think that the food or beverage is therefore a great option for nourishment, especially when we compare a juice to many of the other options for ‘grab and go’.

And it’s not something particular to just those of us who are focused on eating a healthy diet. Juicing is more popular now than ever with earnings estimates for the cold-pressed juice market now at $100 million per year1!

Eating natural, organic, alkaline food is the foundation of a real Paleo diet. A diet that promotes optimal health, supports immune system function, and helps the recovery of people suffering from the plethora of issues stemming from leaky gut syndrome2.

So how does juice fit into the picture?

For the most part, it doesn’t.

The majority of what you’ll find in most juice shops have far more cons than pros. The one exception being 100% green vegetable juice, which very low in sugar, contains wild proteins and ample fiber from vegetables, is clean and has a good dose of fat. All the others fall under the same category:

Too Much Sugar

One popular franchise offers a six-day ‘cleanse’ program centered around juices. One of the juices in this regimen comes in a two-serving, 16oz bottle and contains a total of 46 grams of carbohydrate, 36 of which come from sugar3! Don’t fool yourself by thinking the total calories in the bottle, 200 Cal, are more important than that whopping amount of sugar.

If you’re thinking it’s not such a big deal, because it’s ‘natural’ sugar, coming from fruit, think again. Sugar is still sugar and according to the Harvard School of Public Health4, fruit juice is not a better option than a soft drink. Even though it has more nutrients, it contains as much sugar (though from naturally occurring fruit sugars rather than added sugar) and calories as cola.

And so far we’re just talking about the claimed “healthy” fruit juices at the cold-press bar. Not the from concentrated drinks you find in the supermarket that “contain real fruit juice” and of course lots of added sugar. They may as well be called soft drinks without the carbonation.

The Nutrition Source5 created “How Sweet Is It” which is a guide to help consumers understand the amount of sugar and calories in soda, juice, sports drinks, and other popular beverages. In this guide, drinks that fall in the red category should be drunk infrequently and sparingly, if at all. These beverages have much more than 12 grams of sugar in a 12 ounce serving, and some have upwards of 40 grams of sugar—equivalent to about 10 teaspoons of sugar—and 200 or more calories in a 12-ounce serving.

Remember that juice mentioned earlier from the juice bar?

Trying to Lose Weight? Reach for Something Else

Research suggests that when that carbohydrate is delivered in liquid form, rather than solid form, it is not as satiating, and people don’t eat less to compensate for the extra calories6.

Net takeaway? You’re spiking your blood sugar, then crashing, then hungry again soon afterwards.

Studies are showing that reducing the amount of juice we give our kids is directly related to a lower risk of obesity. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has recently recommended limiting children’s consumption of fruit juice to begin to address the obesity epidemic7. The IOM report states that the preferable option for children older than one year is whole fruit and suggests not providing any juice to children younger than one year.

Squeezing the Bank

Last, but not least, let’s talk about another con: financial cost, in addition to the cost one might pay in his or her health.

With an average juice running you anywhere from $10 – $12 (or more)8, you’re paying a premium from a monetary standpoint, creating yet one more reason to steer clear of making regular juicing a habit.

Promote optimal health by eating a whole, real Paleo diet high in fresh in-season veggies, local wild-caught fish and grass-fed meats balanced out with ample good fats.

It’ll keep the glycemic load low and encourage a range of health benefits… while saving on cost of that $10 sugar-hit at the same time!

Stay tune to part 2 where I’ll offer you a few juice recipes that will fit your Paleo lifestyle.


[1] “Juicing Trend Still Going Strong in 2015.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, n.d. Web. 30 May 2016

[2]  Cordain, Loren. The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Foods You Were Designed to Eat. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2011. Print.

[3] “ORANGE TURMERIC APPLE LEMON JIUCE INGREDIENTS.” Cold Pressed Juices. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 May 2016.

[4] “Sugary Drinks.” The Nutrition Source. Harvard School of Public Health, n.d. Web. 30 May 2016

[5] “How Sweet Is It?” (n.d.): n. pag. The Nutrition Source. Harvard School of Public Health. Web

[6] Pan A, Hu FB. Effects of carbohydrates on satiety: differences between liquid and solid food. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2011;14:385-90

[7] Wojcicki, Janet M., and Melvin B. Heyman. “Reducing Childhood Obesity by Eliminating 100% Fruit Juice.” American Journal of Public Health. American Public Health Association, 30 Sept. 2012. Web. 30 May 2016[8]  Spiegel, Alison. “Why Your Cold-Pressed Juice Is So Expensive.” The Huffington Post., n.d. Web. 30 May 2016

About Nell Stephenson, B.S.

Nell Stephenson, B.S.Nell Stephenson is a competitive Ironman athlete, personal trainer, and a health and nutrition consultant. She has an exercise science degree from the University of Southern California, a health/fitness instructor certification from the American College of Sports Medicine, and over a decade in the health, fitness and nutrition industry. To support her training for the Ironman Triathlon, Nell has tried many different nutritional plans and has found that the Paleo Diet is superior to all other ways of eating. She’s found that she’s leaner, faster, and fitter than ever before and uses her own experience to teach clients how to achieve optimal nutrition and health. Visit her website at Download meal plans tailored to you here.

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“1” Comments

  1. Thanks for taking the time to write this article. I am a nutrition geek and a frugal consumer (it doesn’t matter whether you have the money or not, $10 for a juice that isn’t good for you? insanity) so I already knew to stay away from this juicing thing. In any case, I love reading all of The Paleo Diet posts and Nell Stephenson’s blog. I really appreciate the time spent on delivering the true Paleo knowledge.

    Kind regards,

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