Firstly, everyone can benefit from more vegetables in their diet. Juicing can be a good way to do this, however, eating vegetables whole (or blending them) is healthier. When you juice a vegetable or fruit, you extract the liquid and dispose of all the fibre. We need fibre, fibre is our friend! With the fibre stripped, the GI (Glycemic Index) of the vegetable juice is higher. So for some already high GI veggies like beetroot and carrot, you’ll be like WOOOO HELLOOO BLOOD SUGAR and start bouncing off the walls. Now this is okay for athletes, or someone going to do a high intensity workout straight away, but for your average person going to work or even doing a low intensity walk, it’s an unnecessary sugar hit. Sugar spikes insulin and in time this leads to insulin insensitivity. DOWN WITH SUGAR! Also, from a weight loss perspective, a bowl of raw veg is going to make you feel a lot fuller than a juice, and for a lot longer. So just munch on a celery stick instead!
That been said, a small vegetable juice every now and then, or even daily, certainly won’t hurt you. Some people find consuming lots of raw veg tough on the digestion, so juicing is a good option (or cooking them is another obvious answer). Stick to green, alkalising veg like celery, spinach, kale, cucumber and ginger, to make a nutrient-rich juice without the sugar rush. Beetroot, carrot and citrus juices have a higher GI so reserve them for immediately after an intense workout (to refuel the glycogen in your muscles), before a workout (if you feel you want a sugar hit for energy) or not at all.
Should you be drinking juice before or after a workout? The simple answer is no, not particularly. Juices do not have a significant amount of protein for muscle recovery. You’d be better off having a protein shake. BUT, this is what I sometimes do:
Make your veggie juice in the juicer
Pour it into the blender
Add leafy greens such as kale/spinach
Add egg whites or protein powder
Whether you have this veggie protein shake before or after a workout really depends on your goals. I want to build lean muscle AND shed a bit of fat, so I usually do my cardio in a fasted state in the morning (no juice or food beforehand, just water, coffee and BCAAs*) and make sure I have protein before and after my weights sessions, to ensure muscle growth and recovery. This means if I’m going to have a juice, I’ll have it blended with protein before or after my weights session (or without the added protein just on its own, whenever I damn want!)
*if you are now wondering what the heck BCAAs are – I’ll do another post on the supplements I recommend