Juicing is an incredible nutritional resource for anyone who wants to achieve optimal health and can be a really valuable tool for bodybuilders. Juicing delivers a ton of vitamins, antioxidants and enzymes with minimal time and minimal calories. It will boost your immune system, help correct hormonal imbalances, prevent nutritional deficiencies that can slow growth, heal your digestive system and give you an enormous amount of energy. Juicing is also one of the best ways I know to lose body fat and still get a maximum dose of nutrition in your diet every day.
Having said all that, if you’re not doing it correctly, you will be wasting money, wasting nutritious whole foods and undermining your own goals.
There aren’t a lot of ways to go wrong with juicing, but there are four really common mistakes that can completely undermine everything juicing can do for you. I’m going to explain what those four mistakes are, why they will have such a negative impact on your bodybuilding goals and how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Using Too Much Fruit
When you eat whole, fresh fruits, the absorption of those sugars is slowed by all of the fiber the fruit contains, which helps prevent huge spikes of insulin into your bloodstream. But with juicing, most or all of that fiber is removed. If you’re using a blender and drinking the pulp as well as the juice, you’ll still be getting some fiber to slow that absorption, but not nearly as much as you would by eating the whole fruit. If you’re using a juicer, then you are not getting any fiber at all.
A huge part of the benefit of juicing is giving those nutrients a straight shot into your bloodstream, muscles and organs. However, when you’re drinking fruit juices, all of that sugar hits your bloodstream incredibly quickly and all at once. Most guys will even get the same kind of shakes and adrenalin-like rush that you normally get with caffeine; the sugar hit is that big. This causes a dramatic spike in insulin release and when insulin is present in the bloodstream, your body is triggered to store fat. Repeating this over and over can also begin to cause insulin sensitivity issues.
The proper way to use fruit in juicing is to limit yourself to using half of a low-glycemic fruit like an apple or pear to sweeten up some of the more bitter or tasteless vegetable juices. If you do want to drink a fruit juice, try to stick with berries such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. They’re loaded with antioxidants and rather low on the glycemic scale but they will still give you a sweet treat and a really good energy boost.
Mistake #2: Not Getting a Wide Enough Variety of Ingredients
One of the reasons that juicing is so great is that most of us don’t get nearly enough fresh vegetables in our diets. You should be eating between 16-20 servings of fresh vegetables per day for optimal health. That’s per day, guys. But how many people have the time or the appetite to do that, even if they love vegetables?
The other thing is that even those of us who do eat several servings of vegetables every day tend to stick with four, five or six favorites. Those favorites might be great for you, but they are giving you a very limited variety of nutrients. Dark, leafy greens provide a completely different nutrient variety than do dark, red vegetables. Orange veggies have antioxidants that purple veggies don’t.
Don’t make the same mistake with juicing that people make with whole vegetables, rotating through the same few vegetables day in and day out. You want to get a wide variety of vegetables of all colors in your juices and that’s really easy to do with just a handful of recipes because most recipes have a good mixture of vegetables from different families. This is how you get that antioxidant blast that’s going to propel your nutrition and your body to the next level.
Mistake #3: Being Inconsistent
Guys, you can make the same mistake with juicing that you do with regular foods. Juicing one day here and one day there is no better than eating healthy on the weekdays and pigging out on junk all weekend.
In order to get the benefits of juicing, you have to be consistent. That doesn’t have to mean juicing three times a day every day, although you certainly can. What it does mean is that you have to do it on a regular basis. Don’t forget, you’re supposed to be eating a minimum of 16 servings of vegetables per day. Your body is going to use up today’s nutrients from juicing today, which means you will need more tomorrow.
Whether you decide to juice first thing in the morning and again after your workouts or just in the mornings or after workouts and again as a pick-me-up in the late afternoon, you need to stick to that plan. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself juicing only haphazardly and not getting anywhere near the benefits from it that you could.
Mistake #4: Going on a Juicing “Diet”
Juicing is not a weight-loss diet. Yes, you can lose a great deal of weight through juicing and faster than you would believe, but not by replacing most or all of your food with juice.
Going on a juice cleanse for a few days or a week can do wonders for your weight loss efforts, but only because it will help reset your metabolism, get your hormones back in line and clean out your digestive system. It is a short-term tool for both health and getting your body ready to burn some serious fat, but it is short-term.
If you try to lose body fat by consuming nothing but juice or even by getting by on nothing but a ton of juice and a few servings of protein, you’re going to get results that are exactly the opposite of what you’re hoping for.
First, you are going to be starving. All of that fiber you’re not getting, all of that chewing you aren’t doing and all of those calories you’re not providing are going to have you running for a ten-meat pizza within a week or so. Any fat you lost in the meantime is going to come right back on, and the truth is that most of the weight you lose will be lean muscle mass and water.
It’s very doubtful that you will be getting enough protein on a juice “diet,” so your body will very quickly begin catabolizing (cannibalizing, really) the protein in your muscles. What you will end up with by the time you fall off this diet is fatigue, malnourishment and a lot less muscle.
All of the things that juicing does as a supplement to your diet are going to help you lose body fat. Your digestive system will start working correctly. Your hormone levels, especially cortisol, insulin and testosterone, will be corrected. Your immune system will get a huge boost, reducing inflammation. You will have an incredible amount of energy, which means you will work out better, longer and more consistently. You don’t need to go on a juice “diet,” you just need to juice.
After several years of juicing, I can testify that it’s one of the most powerful, effective and pleasant things that you can do for your bodybuilding goals and your overall health. But you have to use juicing in the right way and avoid these four common mistakes.
Once you’ve been juicing properly for just two or three weeks, you’ll be amazed at the changes in how you feel both physically and mentally, how you’re performing in the gym (and the bedroom, guys) and how your body looks. It is one of the single most important changes that I’ve made in the last ten years and I’ve seen it bring dramatic results in bodybuilders that I know and bodybuilders that I coach and mentor.
I cannot recommend juicing strongly enough, but I also have to tell you just how important it is to do it properly. It’s a tool and tools only work when you use them in the right way, for the right job.
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