Do Calories in Juice Matter?

Have you ever spent a whole day meticulously counting your calories? Taking note of every almond, every reach into the office candy jar, every iced latte… it’s exhausting. And it can be pretty illuminating and unsettling too! Who knew your favorite midday slump remedy was so caloric? Or that your happy hour drinks with coworkers added up to a whopping 500 calories? Even healthy choices can pack a caloric punch. Your go to salad might be a lot heftier than you had anticipated. It doesn’t mean you need to stop eating it though. Healthy foods will always have calories, just like any other food. So when people express concern over the calories in juice, we don’t want anyone to have a meltdown. Yes, juice does have calories. It’s unavoidable, but it isn’t the end of the world. We’re here to set the record straight about calories in juice.

Calories 101

What is a calorie anyway? We hear about them all the time, and they are listed on every prepackaged food item. But what even is a calorie? A calorie is a unit of energy. Your body needs energy to run properly and efficiently, erego your body needs calories. There are three different macronutrients that are needed to fuel your body, and they each provide different amounts of calories. Protein and carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram, while fat supplies 9 calories per gram.

Liquid Calories DO Count

Liquid calories are the calories that come from the liquids you drink, be that alcoholic beverages, sodas, coffee drinks, juices, etc. When you think about calories, you probably think about solid foods and what you eat for your meals and snacks. You have to consider the calories that are supplied by what you’re drinking throughout the day. A calorie is still a calorie.

Trying to Lose Weight?

If you are looking to lose weight, you need to be consuming fewer calories than you’re expending. Unfortunately, that's the surefire way to see the pounds shed. Typically, it takes 1500 calories to lose one pound a week. It can depend on a variety of factors, though, like age, height, weight, lifestyle, and fitness.

Simply cutting calories without paying attention to the quality of the food you ingest won’t cut it though. To lose weight and have it stick, it’s best to lower your calorie intake while eating a healthy and balanced diet. You don’t want to end up hungry and then give up on losing weight altogether. Load up on protein to minimize cravings and keep you full for longer. Protein can also spike your metabolic rate since it requires more energy to metabolize than other nutrients.

Drinking more water can also help you lose weight. By drinking more water, you can actually increase the number of calories you burn. If you drink 2 liters of water a day, you burn about 96 more calories. Drinking water before eating a meal can also reduce the amount of calories you consume.

Of course, you also should be exercising regularly if you want to lose weight. This is as important as your nutrition because exercise contributes to your calories expended. Do a combination of strength training to build lean muscle mass and cardio to get your heart rate up and spike your metabolism. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body burns, even at rest.

Nutrition Is More Important Than Calories In Juice

We’re not talking about the juice that lines your grocery store aisle. Cranberry juice cocktails and Capri Sun juice pouches are indeed unhealthy — don’t get it twisted. 100% juice, especially juice of the cold pressed variety, is actually healthy for you, despite its caloric content. All calories are not created equally! So if you were to choose between a 200 calorie soda or soft drink and a 200 calorie cold pressed juice, you should pick the juice. That will always be the healthier choice because of its nutrients. Cold pressed juices are very nutrient-dense and provide a plethora of important vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function.

Macronutrients— protein, carbs, and fat— are more important to consider than calories in juice. These macronutrients are what really affect the kind of fuel you’re giving your body. They provide different levels of satiety and satisfaction. Think about a chicken breast versus a soda like Coke. While they may contain the same number of calories, they just aren’t comparable as foods and energy sources. Chicken breast is high in protein, low in fat, and void of carbs, while sodas are entirely carbs and lacking in all other nutrients. That’s why a chicken breast keeps you full for much longer than drinking a soda would.

Stick to Cold Pressed Juices

Since the nutrients in juice is far more important than the calories in juice, your best bet is to stick to drinking cold pressed juice because they boast the most nutrients. They are even more nutrient dense than freshly squeezed juices. This is because of the way the juice is extracted. Cold pressed juice is made with a hydraulic press that uses thousands of pounds of pressure to yield the most juice possible from produce. This prevents oxygen from entering the juice and doesn’t cause any heat or friction, all of which degrades the nutritional composition of the juice. That means that all of the nutritious vitamins, minerals, and enzymes are preserved.

Freshly squeezed juices are extracted from a centrifugal juicer, which uses spinning blades. The metal blades spin so fast that they generate a lot of heat, which breaks down the enzymes in the fruits and vegetables. The spinning of the blades also lets oxygen in, which oxidizes the juice and degrades the nutrients further. That’s why fresh squeezed juice isn’t as nutritionally dense as cold pressed juice.

Don’t Pay Attention to Just the Calories in Juice

Calories aren’t the only thing you should look for in your juice. Read the label of any juice you drink before consuming. Pay attention to the ingredients to make sure what you’re consuming really is natural and nutritious. Some companies stick on claims like “all natural” or “organic” but that doesn’t mean they actually are healthy. Ingredients lists are the most important thing to read. You want to avoid any added sugar! Sugar isn’t always listed as “sugar” so pay close attention. Sometimes sugar is called glucose, sucrose, or fructose, but it’s all sugar and empty nutrition. Steer clear of juice with any unrecognizable ingredients as well. Only drink juice that comes from natural, known sources.

In addition to the ingredients, you’ll want to pay close attention the nutritional facts on the back of the bottle. Note the serving size, because there is likely more than one serving contained inside, and therefore more calories than you were expecting. Cold pressed juice will also have a higher caloric count than you were probably anticipating because it’s so nutrient dense. Remember, it’s full of a number of fruits and veggies. And if you’re drinking juice from Pure Green, you can be assured you are getting delicious nutrients with every sip. Each juice from us contains 3 to 5 pounds of fruits and veggies!

Make sure you read the best-before date on your cold pressed juice too! Since these juices don’t contain preservatives, they need to be consumed fairly quickly. They don’t have a long shelf life. Most cold pressed juices only remain fresh for 72 hours. If you aren’t going to drink your juice right away, store it properly. It must be refrigerated! The nutrients will degrade and the juice can turn bad otherwise.

Calories in Juice vs. Calories in Other Healthy Foods

If you take a look at the caloric content in juice as opposed to other healthy options like smoothies and salads, you’ll find that juice does contain fewer calories. For example, our signature cold pressed juice— Pure Greens— contains just 125 calories for a single 16 ounce serving of green juice. It contains wonderful nutrients from kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, zucchini, romaine, apple, lemon, and ginger.  Our signature smoothie by the same name, contains 225 calories for a single 20 ounce smoothie. It contains kale, spinach, mango, banana, pineapple, and coconut water. Salads at popular lunchtime spots around the city contain anywhere from 365 calories to a whopping 775 calories. Yes, salads are healthy options for lunch or dinner, but the calories can really add up if that’s something you’re concerned about.

When you’re determined to count calories and want to keep juicing, just be aware of each juice you drink. Cold pressed juices are delicious and nutritious, but they are not a free pass. Their calories do count, but they are good calories that nourish your body. You definitely do not need to give up juice altogether. It’s always better to choose a healthy treat like juice over a cookie or some process snack for the same or even fewer amount of calories. So juice on, friends!

Megan Partridge