Smoothies vs. Juice: The Ultimate Showdown

By Katie Trant | Last Updated: July 6, 2014

Smoothies vs. Juice
Smoothies and juicing are both in vogue right now, but is one a superior choice over the other? It can be a pain to sift through conflicting information, and the fact is, there are pros and cons for each. Whether or not one is better for you depends on you! So we thought we’d share the facts in the smoothies vs. juice showdown. Let the bountiful beverage battle begin!

Smoothies vs. Juice

Equipment

You don’t need any fancy equipment to make a smoothie. Just a basic blender will do! The great thing about these appliances is that they do double duty –- we use our blenders for all kinds of things. So the blender you use for your smoothies can be an excellent kitchen investment overall. Blender-less? You can also make smoothies using a food processor or an immersion blender (or “stick” blender).

A juicer, on the other hand, is more of a one-trick pony. Juicers are a specialized appliance made to efficiently extract juice from your produce either by cold-pressing, centrifuge, or masticating. Some people also use their juicers to make nut milks, but that is more or less the extent of what they can be used for, aside from juicing. A juicer is definitely a good investment if you plan on juicing a lot. Want to give juicing a go without the up-front investment? Try making a few batches by whirring your fruit and veggies up in a blender, and then straining out the fiber with a nut milk bag or cheesecloth.

Cost

Both smoothies and juice require a fair amount of produce. Smoothies have the advantage of tasting great with frozen fruit blended in, whereas juice relies more or less on fresh produce. In both cases, a lot becomes a little, particularly with juice — this is because the bulky, fibrous portion of the fruit or vegetable is removed during the process. When you consider how many carrots it would take to produce a cup of carrot juice, you can see how the cost of juicing can start to add up.

Fiber

Fiber slows down the body’s intake of naturally occurring sugars in fruits and also helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. It is essential for digestive health, especially in the lower portion of our digestive tracts. For the general population, fiber is healthful, essential, and something we don’t consume nearly enough of.

Blending fruits and vegetables together in a green smoothie provides additional fiber, which remains intact -– we can more or less think of smoothies as a whole food. Add-ins such as nuts, seeds, and oats will provide extra fiber as well.

Juicing, on the other hand, separates the fiber from the liquid, leaving only the liquid behind. In some cases this is beneficial, for example, if there is a need for a lot of nutrients and energy without high amounts of fiber.

If you are juicing, you can hang onto the fiber for other uses. It can be blended into a smoothie, stirred into soups, used to make veggie burger patties, or could be composted and used to feed your garden.

Satiety

Did you know that liquids clear your stomach four times faster than solid food? If you were to sit down and eat a couple of large handfuls of spinach, a banana, a few dates, a tablespoon of almond butter, and a glass of almond milk, you’d likely be stuffed! But when this is blended together it becomes an easily gulpable meal. So whether you’re whizzing up a smoothie or cold-pressing a juice, you’re going to be hungrier sooner than after a solid meal.

This can be a good thing if, for example, you’re trying to fuel a workout but don’t care for exercising on a full stomach. On the other hand it can be a problem to become hungry again too soon after taking in a high calorie liquid meal.

When comparing smoothies and juice, a smoothie will definitely keep you satisfied for longer because fiber, which has been removed from juice, passes through our digestive systems at a moderate pace. Add-ins like nut butters, seeds, yogurt, and oats add protein, fiber, and healthy fats and help turn a smoothie into a meal that really hits the spot.

Energy

Once blended or juiced, your glass may look half-full, but remember — there is still a lot of energy in there! Juice can be very calorie dense if it contains a lot of fruit. Again, this can be a good thing in cases when people have low appetites but high energy and nutrient requirements, such as when fighting an illness, but it also makes it easy for many of us to take in more energy than we intend to, are aware of, or need.

Be mindful of extra ingredients you’re adding to your smoothies, like nuts, seeds, yogurt, coconut milk, and fruit juice. Those add-ins can really add up!

Nutrients

Both smoothies and juice have the potential to provide a mega-dose of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phyto-nutrients, and anti-inflammatory compounds. In terms of nutrients per volume, juice probably has the edge here – by removing the bulky fibrous portion, a concentrated source of nutrition is left behind.

Don’t discount smoothies, though! By blending in ingredients such as flax or chia seeds, we’re able to add essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and healthy fats — things we won’t find in juice.

Both juice and smoothies are an excellent vehicle for getting a lot of nutrients into your body quickly. Because the produce has already been broken down, digestion is easy and absorption is rapid -– faster with juice than with a smoothie, but the nutrients in a smoothie are still absorbed rapidly compared to solid food.

The bottom line

The bottom line is that both smoothies and juice have many benefits and a few drawbacks. Each can play a valuable role as a part of a balanced diet.

Recipes to try

Looking for inspiration? Here are a few of our favorite recipes:

Stripped Green Juice

Nutrition Stripped brings us this verdant sipper made with over a dozen servings of fruits and veggies!

Like what you see? Share it!

Comments

Great info! I used to be all about the smoothies but am really into juicing right now.
I haven’t invested in a juicer…though I’m considering it…but it’s not too much hassle to blend up the veggies with a little water in my Blendtec and then strain through a nut milk bag. Did beetroot, carrot, ginger & grapefruit today. Delish!

If I ever juice, that’s the only way I do it as well. Though I am a smoothie girl through and through – fiber! Beetroot, carrot, ginger, and grapefruit sounds amazing!

I do like a bit of both, depends on my mood, hunger level and what I have going on that day. I also like to make a green juice and then blend in something like raspberries, as a lot of goodness are in those seeds! Well-balanced article, Katie. If you don’t mind, can I copy this for use with my cancer nutrition classes? I’ll wait to see why you say. With credit to you, of course!

Ooh, I like the idea of blending raspberries into a green juice! I’m sure it’s fine to share this post with your cancer nutrition classes, so long as you’re not copying and re-posting on your own blog (not that you would do such a thing!). Glad you enjoyed the post!

I am such a smoothie girl. I bought a juicer a while back thinking that I could definitely become a juice person. Truth is I have used it only a handful of times. I just find smoothies are so much easier and my fruits and veggies go a lot further and there is a lot less clean up. Maybe one day I will give my juicer another try but until then it is smoothies for me!!

I’m a smoothie girl as well. I just can’t get my head around throwing away all of that fiber – it’s so good for us! But I do appreciate a good juice now and then.

The same goes for me regarding the fiber! Plus, I don’t want to pass up the nutrients offered in edible peels. I love a whole food fruit and veg smoothie in the morning! Juice can sometimes actually stimulate my hunger.

Given what I know about what happens when sweet taste receptors are activated (which is a lot, it was a big part of my MSc research) it doesn’t surprise me that juice stimulates your hunger! And I’m totally with you about the nutrients in the peels, it seems such a shame to toss away that portion of the fruit or vegetables. High five for team smoothie!

I’ve heard a lot about what makes smoothies or juicing better or worse for you, so I love this post as a compilation of all that information! So useful!

I love your blog and this article has been the best I have read comparing the 2 methods. It’s been awhile since it was published but I luckily located it on Pinterest. I was wondering if you have heard of, read about, or counseled patients with IBD-crohns or colitis and how they tolerate the fiber in a smoothie versus the juice method. I have Crohn’s disease and depending on my disease stage foods with high fiber can really hurt my tummy. I really want to start drinking smoothies daily but I am just worried about going into a flare. I am not getting any fruits and not many veggies on a daily basis now. I have also had my ileum removed so absorbing vitamins and minerals from foods is a problem.

Hi Jennifer, if high fiber foods are hard on your stomach then juice is probably a better option for you than smoothies. However, this is something you should discuss with your doctor or clinical dietitian before you proceed!

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