Smooth it or juice it?

Published Feb 6, 2015


Cape Town – The first months of a new year mean packed gyms and millions of people across the world scrambling for weight-loss solutions after over-indulging during the holidays.

Social media platforms show that more and more people are either juicing, or blending meal replacement smoothies as a means of detoxifying the body or shedding weight fast.

But whichever you prefer, it is important that you go about it the right way.

Fiona Stander, founder of the Juice Revolution and Joburg-based Lindi Makhaza, life and nutrition coach for Body In Mind, explain the two options and how to go about them.

And a dietician weighs in on why juicing and smoothies need to be carefully considered as a weight loss method.



Fiona Stander, founder of “Juice Revolution”, says she started a juice cleanse in 2012 with her husband, Hugo Stander.

“At first I was a little doubtful about living on fruit and vegetable juice for a week, but I decided to join in and show my support. A week later I felt amazing,” says Stander, of Somerset West.

Juicing explained

Stander says juicing works in the same way as the human digestive system. The minute food enters your body its natural digestion process begins. When you put raw foods and veggies through a juice extractor you effectively do the body’s work for it as the juicer separates the juice from the fibre.

“You skip the digestive process, which can take up a lot of energy and you furnish your cells with raw live nutrients in the fastest possible way,” she says.

Is juicing only for detoxifying the body?

A juice cleanse eliminates dietary mistakes such as overeating, eating processed foods, bad food combinations, eating late at night or consuming too much sugar and caffeine.

Should one juice to lose weight?

Juicing is an excellent approach to weight loss as long as you have realistic goals. You will lose weight because during a cleanse you eliminate all your dietary mistakes, while restricting your calorie intake.


Is it safe?

Juice cleanses are extremely safe for most people, with the exception of those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or those who are taking certain medications. If in doubt, please check with your GP before starting.

Any side-effects?

During a cleanse, the body is essentially tearing down all the “bad stuff” and rebuilding itself. The amount of toxins in your body will determine your side-effects.

Are other meals/liquids allowed?

The benefits of a cleanse will be lost if you eat solid food in addition to the juices. The idea of a cleanse is to only consume the juice so that your digestive system has time to rest.


How long should I juice for?

Select your duration based on your activity level, your budget and your goals. I recommend doing a juice cleanse at least once a season, and in-between when life gets in the way of your healthy lifestyle, says Stander.

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Lindi Makhaza, a life and nutrition coach, started the Quarterly Real Food Smoothie Challenge to assist her clients in reaching their weight and wellness goals.

What is the challenge?

The smoothie challenge is based on sound nutrition and health principles and dietary requirements. The programme focuses on these three major concerns:

1 A balanced diet requires that we consume five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Research has shown that most of us do not make this quota.

2 Our modern diet is seriously lacking in fibre.

3 Processed, rather than real foods, have become a norm in our daily diets.

How does it work?

The challenge is to consume a real food smoothie every day for 21 days. You can join the programme via e-mail and over a period of three weeks you receive several recipes, a shopping list and tips for how to cruise through the challenge. All this is free.

Is the challenge a way of detoxifying?

Real food smoothies can be used to detox. Everybody who wants to improve their nutrient intake and lose a few kilos can join the challenge, says Makhaza.

The first week is dedicated to detox, the second week focuses on rebooting the system and the third week is much more fun, looking at seasonal fruits and other ingredients. The idea is that after 21 days, your body will have been reset to crave and desire the goodness of fresh, raw fruit and vegetables that it has been receiving, Makhaza explains.

Most people use the smoothie as a meal replacement, while others take up the challenge to improve their nutrition. Makhaza does not recommend consuming the smoothie as your only source of food.

Ideally, the smoothie is consumed as a snack. If you are on a weight-loss plan, you can replace one meal with a smoothie, says Makhaza.

Is the challenge safe?

The 21-day programme is relatively safe. Those who have allergies, can omit or replace the ingredients to which they are allergic. During the first week, some people experience symptoms common in detoxing, such as mild headaches and a runny tummy. These usually subside by the second week as the body adjusts to the concentrated nutrients, says Makhaza.


You will feel more energised. The challenge also improves your digestion and reduces the craving for sweet things.


Preparing and freezing the ingredients beforehand saves a lot of time.

Blending uses the entire produce, which provides the additional benefit of fibre. The fibre helps to keep one fuller for longer, thus reducing the chances of uncontrollable snacking.

For details, e-mail [email protected]


Smoothies no substitute for a balanced diet

Cape Town dietitian Elise Gordon says:

“Although juicing and smoothies in and of themselves are not a ‘bad’ thing, they can be if used to extreme. There is probably no nutritional risk in focusing on juicing and smoothies for one day, but beyond this, is there really any added benefit? Probably not.

“One always needs to look at the big picture and how new approaches to food can fit into a healthy, balanced diet. Clean, healthy eating with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and water can give you the same benefits as a ‘juicing detox’. Our bodies have a wonderful organ known as a liver that does a great job of cleansing our bodies already, so we don’t really need to do any type of body cleansing beyond that.

“If you are looking for weight management strategies, the best solution is to take in less calories and replace empty nutrients like sweetened beverages and desserts with more whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Finding a balance that you can stick with as a lifestyle behaviour change is what will result in sustained weight management and dietary success.”

Contact Elise Gordon on her Facebook page:, or

Cape Argus

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