Juicing For Noobs

Forget most of the bullshit you know about juicing. It’s not that complicated -- anyone with a decent grasp of nutrition can do it.
Publish date:
February 15, 2014
health, healthy, fruit and vegetables, juicing

I started juicing about 6 years ago. I found a juicer at a local recycling place, took it home, cleaned it thoroughly, and started experimenting. I’d bought Food As Medicine a few years earlier, but I’d never really gotten beyond the initial daydreaming of how fresh, healthy and vibrant I would become from drinking the lifeblood from vegetables.

At the time, I was about 30 lbs over my "ideal weight" -- obviously it’s hard to parse out how much you should weigh, but I knew that I got tired easily and that my knees were killing me all the damn time. I had wanted to lose weight, but I already ate a pretty good diet, and was working too much to fit in much more exercise. Juicing just made sense -- I could plan ahead, it wouldn’t be a pain to take it with me anywhere (I was working as a field biologist at the time) and I could stop eating garbage from gas stations instead of actual food.

I lost the weight, and it kind of changed my life.

Forget most of the bullshit you know about juicing. It’s not that complicated -- anyone with a decent grasp of nutrition can do it. It doesn’t have to be crammed with sugar, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and you don’t have to buy a super expensive juicer to do it. I’m not talking about living off Sunny D. I’m talking raw, live, fresh juice. It’s the food of the Gods, and The Hippies. So many hippies. Here are some of the public misconceptions about juicing.

It’s full of sugar and will make you Deathfat

I’m not talking about grabbing a Bolthouse Juice and drinking it along with your lunch. Their Amazing Mango has 68g of sugar per 16oz. That’s 24g more than a soda! Mother of god! Juicing isn’t about drinking sugar all day; the best juices are mostly vegetable juice, with some fruit mixed in. If you’re buying juice, eagle-eye the ingredients; juices that have the main ingredient of apple or pear juice (even worse if they are concentrated!) are going to have a higher sugar content, and just because it’s fructose doesn’t mean it’s good for you.They might even be concentrated down to syrup, which would only be evident in sugar content. That’s why making your own is best -- you know JUST what’s in them and can avoid this fuckery altogether. Replacing one meal a day with a juice didn’t just not make me fat, it helped me lose weight faster than with just working out. I’d make a jar of juice at night, throw it in the fridge, and take it with me to work in the morning. It helped me not end up eating out -- where I’m pretty sure I would just eat all the tacos because I was bored.

Juicers cost as much as a new Prius

Don’t get me wrong, they absolutely can. The new juicing trend has spun violently out of control, and while you can buy a juicer that’s also a sex robot bearing resemblance to Seth Rogen, you don’t need it. Juicing is very basic; basic nutrition, basic recipes. You don’t need the best, fastest, fanciest juicer to start. Hit up thrift stores or Craigslist for juicers -- you’d be surprised by the selection and rock-bottom prices. People love the idea of juicing, but it’s not for everybody. Since it comes into style about once every five years, there are loads of hardly-used juicers on the cheap. If you love juicing, you can upgrade to better juicers that can juice drier ingredients like parsley and wheatgrass. Even better, you can use a juicer and a blender in tandem to use whatever drier ingredients you have, like nuts, parsley or seeds. You can even make almond milk if you think that’s something worth doing.

You’ll have to choose between eating and electricity

I have often toed the crusty edge of poverty, and I’ve actually saved money juicing. One of the filthy secrets of juicing is that you can use less-than-perfect produce and still get stellar, vitamin-rich juice. On all the juicing websites you see squeaky, fat, shiny produce in a rainbow of colors -- but guess what? Most of that is going to be garbage in a juice (WTF white potatoes and summer squash?). Forget about half of those fruits and veggies. I’m calling bullshit.

Sorry, but you WILL be eating a rainbow -- it, however, will be mixed together and kind of look like vomit sometimes. Also, there are no blue foods in nature. Thanks to George Carlin, we have this kind of information. If you’re juicing for health reasons, you’ll want to stick to veggies with some fruit and super foods thrown in for good measure, and it’s not pretty. Produce also don’t need to be perfect--a mealy nectarine or apple makes a tasty juice. Bruised bananas and kiwi blend up so well you’d never know they were mushy to start with. Wilted greens or carrots can blend and juice with reckless abandon. I’m not advocating using rotten or buggy produce, it’s just that you can use sales to your hefty advantage; I picked up .88-cent cucumbers and on-the-vine tomatoes for $1/lb the other day, because both were at peak ripeness. I can’t eat 3lbs of tomatoes in a day, but I can totally juice them.

You’re not getting enough protein/fiber

No one is ever going to get enough fiber. Ever. But if you’re juicing, you’re probably pretty aware of fiber being a thing you need to get more of. Most store-bought juices will have the fiber removed for a few reasons: it looks gross, it encourages separation, and it isn’t shelf-stable. On a commercial scale, juice is made by pressing, straining, and then it’s put it a settling tank and siphoned off the top of the tank to avoid getting any solids.

At home, you’re most likely using a juicer that works by finely grating your produce, then uses centrifugal force to separate the juice from the fiber (soluble and insoluble). This means that a lot of the fiber is physically removed, but not all of it. The tradeoff is that you’re also unlocking nutrients you might not otherwise get, and though you’re reducing the fiber from a whole food, ⅓ of the fiber of 6 carrots is a lot more than the fiber of no carrots. Some juicers retain more pulp (generally cheaper/crappier ones retain more) by having a weaker centrifuge, or smaller blades on the grater. But it’s exceedingly easy to make sure you get your daily fiber--just blend some whole vegetables, like spinach, or raw grains. Protein is really important to any diet, but especially if you’re active. I like to throw chia, nuts, broccoli, wheat germ or even whey powder to juice and blend it. You know exactly what you’re eating, and you can balance it to fit your needs, like astronaut food!

Not pasteurizing your juice means it’s poison

I can’t believe how many people have said this to me or commented about it online. Pasteurization is a process of using heat to kill pathogens and microbes in food, common in store-bought dairy, juice, soup and basically any liquid you buy ready-made. It increases shelf life of goods, as well as insuring that anything that might have tainted the large batches of product has been eliminated, like E.coli or Salmonella. While a level of risk is always associated with consuming raw fruits and vegetables, it’s highly reduced by just keeping a clean kitchen and washing your produce. It’s nutters to pasteurize everything you eat -- it’s not necessary, and even worse, the process also destroys a whole pile of vitamins and enzymes that are really beneficial. So if you feel uncomfortable drinking raw juice, I hope you also don’t eat raw apples or carrots, because death might be lurking around any corner.

I love doing juice and raw food cleanses, especially after consistently shitty food choices, like when I’m visiting relatives (what is it with old people and ham?). It’s also useful if you’re doing an elimination diet, or when you’re sick. Or say you might have drank too much the night before, juice will help rehydrate your poor wrecked innards.

Have you seen "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead"? I watched it when it first came out, and it’s a really good into to the health benefits of juicing. Have you tried juicing? Do you think of steroids when you hear the term “juicing”? Should we call it “Plant Gravy” instead?