We have a slightly strange relationship with food as people. We eat for fuel, keeping our bodies supple and active, but all too often we find ourselves complaining that a meal is leaving us feeling sluggish and devoid of energy – particularly if we over-do the carbohydrates early in the day.
With this in mind, is juicing the way forward?
More and more people are engaging in juice diets and juice fasts in order to spike their vigor and be enabled with a little more get-up-and-go, and you may be tempted to join them.
Is that a wise course of action?
If handled correctly, juicing can be a great way to increase your energy levels.
Can a Juice Diet Really Boost Energy Safely?
Let's start at the beginning; if you are referring to a juice fast, in which you forego all solid foods in favor of consuming liquids morning, noon and night, then no.
By its very nature fasting creates a calorie deficiency, which may be helpful when it comes to losing weight but it's going to leave you feeling considerably more lethargic than you may be used to – especially if you are not a frequent faster – and it will be difficult to maintain the active lifestyle that you are presumably looking to pursue thanks to the assistance of your juicing plan.
Unless you are a wholly experienced juicer with a body that only requires minimal sustenance, this is potentially a dangerous way to go – especially when you consider how juicing will deprive your body of such essential nutrients as protein and fiber.
You must also consider your current state of health, and any conditions you are suffering from – juicing may not be right for everyone.
2 Alternative Ways for Energy
There are, however, two alternative tacks to take; replacing one meal with a juice and eating a little more carefully with the rest of your daily consumption, or drinking an energy-boosting juice some thirty minutes prior to tucking into each course of a healthy, balanced diet.
This is certainly a healthier option than reaching for a canned energy drink or another cup of coffee, although obviously there will be a trade-off in terms of the calories that you are consuming; you'll have to put that new-found spring in your step to good use by burning off that excess energy with exercise.
Make breakfast your juice time
If you are going to replace a meal with a juice plan, make it breakfast; you can replace the cream-and-sugar-laden cup of Joe that you often start your day with, and enjoy positive effects on your body and brain.
What's more, consuming your juice on an empty stomach will ensure that everything is absorbed considerably faster.
Change your habits beforehand
In order to safely prepare for switching a meal to a juice, change your habits beforehand – if you are used to loading up on carbohydrates through bread, muffins or bagels in the morning, your body may struggle to adapt to running exclusively in liquids at short notice and you'll end up falling off the wagon.
You may have to prepare yourself for some short-term pain for a long-term gain if you are a coffee addict, too – caffeine withdrawal is nobody's idea of a good time – but the benefits will speak for themselves when they start to become apparent.
Best Foods to Use for Energy
The good news about juicing for energy as opposed to weight loss fasting is that you are slightly less restricted on what you can use as ingredients.
The usual caveats surrounding calorie and sugar content apply, but there are a great many foods that can get your body's motor running in the morning without the unpleasant side effects of caffeine such as cardiovascular complaints, insomnia and increased anxiety.
Let us reiterate once more though, this advice is relating to juicing as a supplement to a healthy diet or replacing a solitary meal (i.e. breakfast) – not as a longer-term fasting plan.
If the latter is your intention, disregard everything except the vegetables (or perhaps follow our similar guide to Juicing for Diabetics, which focuses on low-glycemic, low-sugar recipes that will provide a slow and steady release of energy).
Vegetables still feature highly with energy juices
Anyway, onto business – what ingredients should you be looking at including in an energy boosting juice?
It will come as little surprise that vegetables still feature highly, as superfoods that enhance everything good about yourself often come in green, leafy packages, but you can also toss in a number more of delicious fruits than you may otherwise consider.
Thinking green, as well as fruity, will always be the best option.
Berries are a great option
Berries are heaven sent in this situation, with the usual suspects such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries balancing antioxidant qualities with a boost of vitality.
You could include a peeled orange in your juice for a Vitamin C burst, or really push it by using grapefruit, kiwi, pineapple or a mango (careful on the latter – it contains more sugar than other fruits, but it is pretty delicious!).
Don't neglect the importance of green veg though, as products such as celery, cucumber,kale and spinach will also keep you moving throughout the day. Beetroots, thanks to their ability to balance internal chemistry and hormones, are also a great way to start your day, and carrots will perk up even the most sluggish soul.
Energy boosting juices are best consumed when chilled, so consider making them up the evening before and keeping them refrigerated overnight.
Always give them a quick shake or stir though, to remix, as they can tend to settle after refrigeration.
Alternatively, you could look to boost your immune system with a spicy start to the day – add a clove of garlic and stir a little cayenne pepper to your juice, potentially with black pepper to taste, and warm it up slightly on a cold winter's morning.
It’s all a matter of taste – however, you also need to think about those around you – smelling of garlic in the office is not that welcoming to colleagues!
Squeezing the juice of a citrus fruit such as lemon or lime will also widen your eyes and spark you into life.
Keep an eye on the calories
Please, though, remember our advice to keep an eye on how many calories and how much sugar is involved in your juice. Too much fruit and not enough vegetables could easily result in a fructose crash later in the day.
Five Simple Recipes for Energy Boosting Juices
As always with juicing, it all comes down to whatever your palate finds pleasing – mix and match and appropriate combination of ingredients until you find yourself satisfied with that you’re pouring down your throat and feel your body and mind spark into life.
If you’re looking for some advice on where to start, however, give these five combinations a try.
- 1 beetroot, 6 celery stalks, 1 green apple and half a cucumber
- 1 red pepper, 2 carrots, 3 stalks of celery, 2 tomatoes, Half a cucumber, 2 handfuls spinach and parsley and a dash of cayenne pepper
- Half a pineapple, 1 grapefruit, a pinch of ginger powder (or ¼ inch fresh ginger) and half a lemon
- 2 pears, 2 apples and a sprig of fresh rosemary
- 1 beetroot, half a lemon, 3 pears and a handful of raspberries