Smoothies vs. Juicing – What’s the difference?

Smoothies and juices can be healthy additions to one’s diet, but should you be drinking one over the other on the regular—and if so, why? Both drinks can pack a whopping amount of nutrients from fruits and vegetables, but each have their benefits and limitations to consider when selecting your beverage of choice. Instead of falling victim to the smoothie and juice craze, learn how each can be incorporated into long-lasting healthy habits.


The smoothie scene

Ah, smoothie—we see you. A blend of whole foods and liquids, you’re a vehicle delivering bountiful goodness in a glass. Often times picture-worthy, you are filling enough to be a meal replacement, can serve as a midday pick-me-up or to refuel post-workout. The creations are endless…but how do smoothies stack up against fresh juice? Review the benefits and drawbacks before deciding how to best incorporate smoothies into your routine.  

A few benefits of smoothies, include:

  • First up, fiber. When you blend up fruits and vegetables, the fiber stays intact. This is the main difference between smoothies and juice. Fiber is important for our digestive process (moving food and keeping you regular) and gut health, slows the absorption of glucose which helps stabilize blood sugar levels, and helps us feel full. In addition to the fiber from fruits and vegetables, you can easily include additional sources of fiber in smoothies from flaxseeds or chia seeds.
  • Meal replacement: the combination of fiber, fat and protein allow smoothies to be an optional meal replacement where juice is not. In addition to whole foods containing healthy fat and protein (such as nuts, nut butters, avocado) you can add in coconut oil, MCT oil, protein powder or yogurt to help increase satiety and keep you full between meals.
  • Booster add-ins: while both smoothies and juice contain vitamins and minerals from food, superfood boosters (spices, adaptogens, herbs) can easily be tossed in the blender to enhance nutrition.
  • Quick to make and easy clean up: It takes less time to blend up food and liquid. Blenders are also easier to clean and contain fewer parts than juicers (not to mention they can usually go in the dishwasher). It’s all about doing what works for you and your lifestyle, so these pros are worth noting.


What should be considered when making smoothies?

While smoothies are loaded with good stuff, they can often be overloaded with sugar and calories if not well planned. Many store-bought smoothies contain high amounts of sugar from juice, dates, fruit, sweetened yogurt or honey. Not only can too much of this cause spikes in blood sugar, it can increase calories, which may counteract your health goals. On that note, nutrient dense smoothies (containing oils, nut butters, nuts, etc.) are also high in calories, so they should be used as a meal replacement. Go for a lighter version if consuming with a meal or as a snack. Read how to build a power smoothie here.

Equipment needed: Blender

While a quality blender is flat out better, a standard (and less pricey) blender should do the trick for making smoothies. If you do not have a high-power blender (such as a Vitamix), try soaking nuts or dates to soften before blending. Blenders have many uses in the kitchen and make a worthwhile investment.


Juice it up

For many, the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables can be hard to meet. Juicing is an easy solution to obtain necessary vitamins and minerals in liquid form. The quantity of produce that you can reduce down to a glass is pretty remarkable. It also explains why fresh cold-pressed juice can have a high price tag—it packs a TON of produce! Even so, there are things to consider before you down that drink.

What makes juice so awesome?

Because the fiber is stripped away during the making of juice, you are left with a high amount of nutrients in your glass. Without the fiber to slow down absorption, these nutrients are easily digestible and quickly enter your bloodstream, providing an instant health kick. Flooding your body with so much goodness can lift your energy, boost your immune system, give your skin a healthy glow, and arm your cells with the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes needed to ward of disease and maintain good health.

Another benefit of juicing is the volume of produce that you can consume in a cup. Even for those of us who enjoy eating fruits and vegetables daily, juicing offers the opportunity to maximize your intake quickly and without cooking. If your goal is to simply increase your intake of vitamins and minerals, then juicing wins. You can only pack so many leafy greens in your blender before it starts to taste a little grassy…  What’s more, you can include veggies that you may not like to eat on their own. Combining different vegetables and fruits allows you to play with flavors and expand the variety (and color!) of your diet.

Things to consider when preppin’ your juice, include:

  • Due to the lack of fiber, it’s important to watch sugar content when selecting your ingredients. Incorporate more greens than fruit to limit sugar or enjoy your juice along with fiber-containing food to help stabilize blood sugar levels. Without fiber, juice is less filling too, which means it is not a good meal replacement.
  • Yes, drinking juice is good for you—but be mindful that you are still drinking calories. If you’re enjoying juice as part of a breakfast, opt for a smaller or lighter food portion to accompany your drink. Without chewing, or fiber, it’s easy to lose sight of the calories in beverages, especially when they provide so much goodness.

Equipment needed: Juicer

Juicing does require special equipment. At-home juicers range in price and quality does make a difference. There are two main types of juicers: masticating and centrifugal. Masticating juicers operate more slowly as they actually masticate (or chew) the food, which squeezes out the juice. They do contain several parts and can be harder to clean. However, they tend to handle leafy greens a bit better than centrifugal juicers, and the juice lasts a little longer (due to less oxidation). On the other hand, centrifugal juicers use a spinning mechanism to separate the juice from the pulp. They operate faster and are easier to clean. They usually have a wider opening (mouth), so less chopping is needed, which also reduces prep time. However, nutrients oxidize more quickly due to the spinning mechanism. The bottom line is to weigh what is most important for you in your juicing journey, do your research before purchasing, know your budget, and ultimately go with what will work best for your lifestyle. If your equipment sees more dust than action, maybe it’s not the right fit for you.


The take home message

Both smoothies and juice offer ways to supply your body with good nutrition to support an active lifestyle, and are hydrating, detoxifying and easy for your body to digest. Convenient for on the go, each drink can be part of your wellness routine. Looking for a quick breakfast and want to sneak in some greens? Grab a smoothie. Feeling lethargic and want a boost of energy? Drink a juice. Play around with different recipes and flavors to see how each work best for you. Have fun with it; after all, that’s what healthy eating (and drinking) is all about.


Blogpost written by Ascend Content Expert, Ashley H