Skip to Content

NorthShore’s online source for timely health and wellness news, inspiring patient stories and tips to lead a healthy life.

Healthy You

Good and Bad: Juicing and Protein Shakes

Thursday, January 07, 2016 7:34 AM

Everyone is looking for a quick fix when it comes to healthy eating. Over the years, juicing and protein shakes have become increasingly popular. Juicing can provide a quick meal that can be healthy, which is perfect for our on-the-go lifestyles. Hallie Labrador, MD, Sports Medicine at NorthShore, breaks down the good and the bad of both.


Juicing can be beneficial for the body if it’s done right. Dr. Labrador doesn’t support the idea of a juicing “detox” during which you only drink juiced vegetables for a prolonged period of time. That routine is too extreme and any results garnered are likely not to last. Your body naturally flushes out toxins because the liver is constantly detoxifying. If done properly, juicing can have some great benefits!

Pro: If you are not a fan of vegetables, it is a great way to squeeze them into your day. Depending on the recipe, in one glass of juice you can typically consume 2-4 servings of vegetables.
Con: Many juicing machines keep the pulp when you juice fruit and vegetables, which leaves out the most nutritious part. The pulp is where all the fiber is stored as well as some essential vitamins.

Pro: “Mix-ins” are a great way to easily include protein into your diet. You can make a delicious breakfast adding in almond milk, Greek yogurt, flaxseed or peanut butter to the juices.
Con: Juicing cannot replace large meals as it lacks the essential nutrients your body receives from large meals. There is not enough fiber, protein or fats to last you in between meals or all day.

Pro: Adding fruit to your juices is a great way to sneak more nutrients into your day and helps to make your glass sweeter. The addition of fruit makes it easier to drink when you first start experimenting with juicing.
Con: Too much fruit in your juice may spike your blood sugar rapidly and can quickly add on the calories. Keep your fruits to a minimum – just enough to make your juice slightly sweeter.

Protein Shakes

Protein is an essential nutrient and plays an important role when working out. There are many different types of protein supplements – the common ones being either milk-based like whey or casein or plant-based like soy protein. Whey is the most commonly used protein because it contains all nine amino acids and is a water-soluble milk protein. Because most of us already have a lot of protein in our diets, Dr. Labrador recommends talking to your doctor before you add protein shakes to your diet regularly.

Pro: If you want to start a vegan lifestyle or already follow one, it is a great way to supplement the protein one would normally get from fish, chicken, eggs or dairy.
Con: Protein shakes are dietary supplements and do not provide the same amount of antioxidants, dietary fiber and other healthy substances obtained from whole protein-rich foods.

Pro: When you up your workout regimen – such as training for a race or trying to build muscle –adding protein powder or shakes is a great way to accompany your training to help build muscle and help muscles recover from intense workouts.
Con: It doesn’t take much protein to build a pound of muscle. The body only needs 10 to 14 grams of additional protein a day to help achieve those goals and most athletes – even those working out intensely – get enough protein from their diets. It may be beneficial to use your money towards fresh chicken rather than protein powder or shakes.

Pro: Protein successfully helps with the feeling of fullness. Athletes who use protein shakes as the occasional meal replacement or snack inbetween light meals can feel fuller and build muscle.
Con: Too much protein can be taxing on the liver and kidneys. Protein supplementation also adds calories which the body can turn into fat.

Have you tried juicing or protein shakes?