Does drinking juice help you lose weight or make you gain it?

A friend who has heart disease was downing a gallon of orange juice every couple of days. He was drinking it all day long, figuring it was healthy for his heart because he was getting plenty of Vitamin C and potassium. Plus, it was fortified with calcium and Vitamin D. But he developed a very large tummy, and decided OJ may have been the culprit. Now that he’s cut back to just one glass a day, he’s losing that belly and can zip his pants again.

One thing he was doing right was drinking only 100 percent orange juice, with no added sugar. But even 100 percent juice is high in natural sugar and calories. Some naysayers will tell you that sugar makes juice no healthier than soda, except for the antioxidants and nutrients. That’s a huge except, because juice has those going for it like few other drinks do. Soda, as you know, has no nutrients whatsoever.

Those who grew up on OJ for breakfast (and raised our kids on it) wouldn’t think of starting our day without it. This wake-up juice cuts through morning mouth like nothing else, and for many also serves as a morning laxative, LOL. Plus, it’s a convenient way to get at least one of your recommended four or five servings of fruit a day. But limiting yourself to a glass a day is the way to go and also helps keep your blood sugar in check.

Truthfully, whole fruits are healthier than juice. They haven’t lost their nutrients or their fiber during the juicing process.  And if you’re trying to lose weight, you can eat as many fruits and vegetables as you want and you’ll feel full.

Here are some ways you can still enjoy your juice without gaining weight needlessly:

- Drink only 100 percent juice with no added sugar.

- Limit your serving to one glass a day.

- If you or your kids crave more, water it down. Make fruit-infused water.

- Use whole fruits and vegetables to make your own fresh juices, keeping in mind you’re getting a better quality juice but still getting fewer nutrients and fiber than from the whole fruit or vegetable.

- For your best bets in high-nutrient juices, check out these recommendations from Interestingly, OJ is the lowest in antioxidants but is an awesome source of Vitamin C. The absolutely worst choice you can make is a fruit cocktail. You’ll want to skip any juice that contains any added sugar such as high-fructose corn syrup. Drink healthy!