What is the difference between a juice and a smoothie?

Whats the difference between a juice and a smoothie juicing retreat

At the retreat, we often get asked about the difference between juices and smoothies and which is truly best for your health.  In this article John explains why he favours smoothies at home but juices at the retreat!

Juices and smoothies are similar because they are a great way of putting a high volume of raw micronutrients and natural enzymes into the body.  It’s unlikely you would eat a plate of food containing an apple, half a lemon, two raw carrots, a handful of raw spinach, some raw beetroot and a stick of raw celery.  However, somehow when they are combined in a juice or smoothie they look and taste fantastic!

For an article focused on the benefits of juicing, check out our blog article: all you need to know about juicing

What is the difference between a juice and smoothie?

The simple difference between a juice and smoothie is how it is made.  A juice takes a specialist piece of equipment called a juicer that “extracts” or “squeezes out” liquid nutrients from fruits and vegetables.  A smoothie is different because it is made with a blender or food processor.

The main “advantage” to juicing is that the extraction removes the pulp and fibre from the fruit and veg and therefore makes the digestion process easier for the body.  Around 10% of your body’s energy is used up in digesting food and with a juice the body works less hard to get the same nutrients compared to a smoothie.  This leads to some of the health benefits described further below.  There is also a benefit that with a juicer you don’t have to prepare your fruit and veggies (for example you can put an entire apple through a juicer but you will need to remove the core/pips etc if you are using a blender to make a smoothie).

The main “advantage” to smoothies is that there is more variety (many people add things to their smoothie like avocado, nut milk and seeds) and you can often feel fuller for longer.  You also don’t need to go out and buy specialist equipment to make a smoothie (most people already have a blender in their kitchen) plus the equipment is normally a little easier to clean.

In addition to the relative advantages described above, there are four key health-based reasons why people introduce juices or smoothies into their lifestyle.  The best choice (juice or “smoothie”) will come down to how you prioritise between the following:

  1. Losing weight. The key components of weight loss are exercise and calorie intake.  Juices and smoothies are typically low in calories and so both can help with a weight loss programme.  There are a lot of micronutrients per portion of juice or smoothie which can help us stay “satisfied” for hours without the need to snack (this feeling of satisfaction is a little different to the feeling of being “full” after a meal).  Juicing is often associated more with weight loss than a smoothie because with juicing you don’t add extra nuts, seeds, or milks which are additional calories often associated with a smoothie.

  2. There are two elements to a health “detox”.  First is to minimise the toxins being put into the body and second is to make the natural detox process easier for your body. Many “toxins” emerge through the processing of foods before it hits the shelves.  Juices and smoothies contain mostly raw fruit and veggies and therefore can both help with avoiding putting toxins into your body. 

    The body’s natural detox process is supported more with juicing than smoothies.  This is because some of the energy used to digest food can be diverted to enhancing the natural process of removing “toxins” from organs the body (e.g. the liver).

  3. Healing chronic diseases. There are many documented cases of people being able to reverse chronic health conditions through a significant change of diet.  Sometimes these include more serious diseases like diabetes (type 2) and even heart disease.  Juices allow the body to free up energy through the simpler digestion process which in our experience at the retreat makes the healing process even faster than for a smoothie-based programme.

  4. Health and nutrition reasons. Some people choose a juice or smoothie for health reasons so that they get sufficient nutrients for their body to work optimally.  They may have a juice or smoothie every morning, or perhaps two or three times a week.  There are also now documented cases of athletes improving their performance when switching to a plant-based diet. There are two minor differences between juices and smoothies: (1) as the pulp and fibre is removed from a juice the micronutrient concentration will be higher than for a smoothie and (2) as digestion is easier, juices would also ensure that the absorption of these nutrients is optimised.

Conclusion: Juice and smoothies to suit you!

There are many advantages to including juices or smoothies into your lifestyle.  Personally, I find the convenience of using a blender and the additional freedom of adding rice or coconut milk means that I tend to make smoothies at home.  However, when I am consciously trying to reset, detox or work on healing my body I turn to juicing.  To suit my current lifestyle, alongside many of our retreat guests, I typically do a juice reset (or “detox”) once or twice a year, but have a smoothie most days.   

About the author

John is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. He is a life and success coach, Transformational Coach and a master trainer in NLP. He leads our life makeover programme as well as overseeing the retreats.