Everybody knows that athletes need maximum nutrition in order to perform at high levels on a consistent basis. You need nutrients to help fuel your body in sports and workouts, and the same nutrients help you recover after a match or lifting session. For many busy athletes, though, the time to prepare and eat all the required servings of fresh produce in a single day just isn’t practical. That’s why I’m so passionate about juicing. I’ve been into it for 12 years now, and juicing has really changed the way I look at nutrition. It’s incredibly easy to do, and it’s such an efficient way to get all your nutrients or a significant chunk of your daily needs in one go.
This is my quick review of the best juicers, how to know what you should buy and which brands are good.
The big decision to make right up front is to decide what you want to juice, because that’ll decide which type of machine you need to use. For big chunks of fruits and vegetables, you can get away with a centrifugal juicer. They’re the fastest ones, probably what you think of when you hear the word “juicer”. If you want to do greens, though, you have to get a masticating juicer, which is like an auger that eats your greens for you and drips juice out. They’re definitely slower (even the top masticating juicer ratings are mixed because of how much effort they take to use) but worth it if you’re trying to cover your salad needs for the day in your glass.
Wheatgrass is also great as a morning ritual, with the least sugar content of pretty much anything that grows. Since it’s essentially a tiny leafy green like kale, it’s packed with nutrients, and has next to zero calories. Think of it like a drinkable super vitamin, but with lots of live enzymes for your body to use. You can’t expect to use a normal juicer for this, though, and wheatgrass is tough and stringy enough to make it a killer for most machines. You can find hand-crank juicers pretty cheaply, and that’s what my nutritionist friends who drink wheatgrass use. I’ve never really gotten into it myself, but that’s mainly because of the taste. I’d just rather use lots of kale and mint in my juice mixes.
I think it’s important to include an equal balance of vegetables to fruit in any drink, even though most people have the instinct to have more fruits (since they taste better). The key in my experience is to find things that compliment each other. For instance, carrot, apple, and beet all fit nicely together. Carrots and beets have a lower sugar content than the apples, while the apples help bring out some of the sweetness of the root vegetables. So, you’re getting a much better nutritional profile than you would with just fruits, but with the nice fruit taste you want from a glass of juice. If you want something zestier, you can add some ginger root as well, which adds an awesome kick and cuts the sweetness a bit. I’ll write another post soon with some veggie juice recipe suggestions.
To get into juicing right, you need to find a juicing machine or juicer that works best for your lifestyle and your needs. There are lots for athletes to choose from thankfully. The big thing to choose is whether you want to get the absolute best nutrition but spend more time prepping, or make juice fast but lose some nutrition and end up with a bit more waste.
If you’re super nutrition conscious and trying to keep sugar content down, you should get a slow or masticating juicer. They do a better job breaking down fiber into a creamier juice, which balances out the sugar. In my experience, Champion are still making the best masticating juicers, even after more than 30 years at it. I’ve been using these for about 12 years now, and they’re by far my favorite, having also tried the Omega ones. Champions are way more rugged and powerful and they don’t feel rickety like the newer competition. They’re also made in America, which is cool to support.
If you don’t have time to slice up your produce in pieces small enough to fit in a masticating juicer, you probably want to go the centrifugal route, which lets you basically feed in whole fruits and vegetables without all the time-consuming prep work. I think the best centrifugal juicers on the market now are Kitchenaids, but Jack LaLanne ones are affordable alternatives that are pretty popular. The reason I like the Kitchenaids better is that they have a squeezing “slow” phase as well as the fast blitz phase, which ends up giving you more juice from your produce. Still, the LaLanne ones do basically the same thing, for a lower price. Just plan on wasting a bit more juice in the pulp that you compost.
Anyway, I hope this post is helpful to you, especially if you’re on the brink of starting a long and fruitful relationship with juicing. Cheers!