AVOID: Fruit Juice – Eat Fruit, Don’t Drink It
Let’s be clear: You should not drink fruit juice. Ever. Eat fruit, don’t remove all the pulp leaving only the sugar and then drink the equivalent of six servings of fruit sugar in a single sitting. Seriously. Stop. Today.
Even the not-so-progressive USDA recommends against drinking fruit juice:
In one study, children who drank more than 12 ounces of pure juice each day were more likely to be short in stature or overweight.
Although their intake of other foods decreased to compensate for the juice, it wasn’t enough to offset the increased calories the juice provided. This may account for the higher weight gain. Excess juice consumption also decreased the percentage of calories coming from fat, which may explain lower height for age on the growth grid. Although the Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults and older children restrict fat to 30% of the calories, fat should gradually be reduced to this level by the time the child is 5 years old. Infants and pre-school children need fat for normal growth and development.
Although WIC juices contain vitamin C, potassium and other nutrients, it is also similar in calories to soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks. When consumed in excessive amounts, it can mimic an “empty calorie food.”
“Fruit juice is sugar with no fiber to mediate its consumption. When people tell me they’re going on a juice cleanse, they might as well tell me they’re going on a root beer cleanse.” – Peter Kaminsky, author of Culinary Intelligence: The Art of Eating Healthy (and Really Well)
Blending fruit in a smoothie is better than juicing it, because you’re not removing the fiber, you’re pulverizing it but the whole fruit is still there. You still need to be careful how much sugar you’re consuming in that smoothie, though. Three bananas? Really? Would you sit and eat three bananas? I hope not. Generally speaking: avoid the smoothie unless you make it yourself and think hard about how much sugar you’re sticking in the blender. Store-bought smoothies (even at the health-food store) usually have fruit juice, too much whole fruit, sugar-added soy or rice milk, agave, or some other bullshit that makes it taste yummy but have more calories and carbs than a Snickers.
Generally speaking, my recommendation mirrors that of the state of NY: avoid calorie-containing beverages all together. Stick to water, coffee (no more than 8-16oz/day), and tea. Occasionally I’ll have a coconut water after a hard workout, or I’ll splurge and spend 70 calories on a bottle of kombucha, but generally best to avoid altogether.