True juice connoisseurs are like any other kind of aficionado, which is to say they're
picky as hell particular. You wouldn’t ask a sommelier from a Michelin-starred restaurant to sip a bottle of sludgy, $3 merlot, nor should anyone expect a green juice fanatic—one who's spent years finding the spot for cold-pressed goodness in their hometown—to slurp down a glorified sugar bomb.
But sometimes life takes you out of your regular juicing habitat. Which is why we asked Nutrition Stripped founder McKel Hill, RD, MS, to help us sort through the offerings of big juice brands you can find just about anywhere. Here are her five tips for smart juice drinking when you're on-the-go.
Tip 1: Look for fresh-pressed, cold pressed, and organic.
This is really Hill's trifecta for juice-worthiness. “Truly, I’d only recommend juices that are freshly pressed, ideally organic, and cold-pressed,” she emphasizes. Hill wouldn't name names, but she's wary of some big brand juice companies that have a lot of added sugar and just aren't that fresh.
Flip over to the back to scan the nutrition label before proceeding to the check-out counter. Suja Juice's Uber Greens, for example, is a safe option according to Hill.
Tip 2: When in doubt, go green.
Trying to decide if juice X or juice Y is your best bet? Hill says it's almost always a good idea pick whichever one is heavier on the greens. “Even naturally-occurring sugars from fruit still have an effect on your blood sugar and waistline, and it’s easier to over-consume those sweeter juices than the green ones,” she says.
Plus, notes Hill, most of us really don’t get enough greens anyway. So that means if you're debating the menu at Jamba Juice, go for their Organic True Greens blend rather than one of the fruit-filled options.
Tip 3: Always remember the serving size.
While getting down and dirty in your label sleuthing, you might skip right down the ingredients list—and in the process, miss the hiding-in-plain-sight fact that one bottle could contain more than one serving.
For example, she likes Evolution Fresh’s Organic Sweet Greens and Ginger—which the label lists as being two servings per bottle, so drink accordingly.
Tip 4: Context matters!
When you’re home and in your juice groove, it’s easy to be clear about why you’re having a beverage at any given point in time. Maybe it’s the greens-heavy smoothie you whip up in the morning, or the cold-pressed concoction you grab from the juice bar around the corner from your office to slay that 3 p.m. slump. The same goes for when you’re on the road or deviating from the norm.
Hill recommends you ask yourself, “Is this a snack? A drink with a meal? A meal replacement?” Don't go for a protein-heavy smoothie when all you really want is a light refreshment of some kind—Suja Juice's Fuel, for example, is an option that she thinks is great for those not-so-heavy moments (bonus points for the added turmeric in this blend).
Tip 5: Prep ahead.
If you're concerned that the only juice you'll encounter is a from-concentrate variety (i.e. the type of beverages you're better off skipping), you may want to travel prepared so you won't end up guzzling down a sugar bomb.
Hill suggests having some water with lemon—if you can't pack pre-cut wedges, you can usually get a slice or two from a cafe or even pick up a whole lemon at a nearby supermarket—or making sure you bring with you some type of greens packet. (Amazing Grass and Aloha Daily Good Greens offer tasty portable options.)
BTW, this is what "cold-pressed" really means. If you've got options, these are the 10 best-selling juices from some of the biggest brands. And if you're looking for a non-juice snack, here are the travel-friendly foods that wellness pros swear by.
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