The Big Squeeze — Bike Magazine Australia

Making your own juice is part-art, part-science – and yields great results as long as you get the formula right.

There’s a new section in many grocery stores that didn’t exist a decade ago. In it you’ll find a colourful array of cold-pressed, organic concoctions that promise health and wellness in a bottle. Sure, they’re an easy and palatable way to get more fruits and veggies into your diet, but one 500ml drink can cost more than the entire inventory of the store. Before you plonk down a small fortune for pre-made juice, consider making your own. “I love the energy I get from a glass of green awesomeness,” says Team Specialized-lululemon rider Ally Stacher, who has been known to tote her juicer through airport security so she can have it at every race. If you want to get more nutrients in liquid form, here’s what you need to know and four great options to try.

Looking for a competitive edge? Beetroot isn’t just great on a burger; it’s loaded with nitrates, which open up blood vessels and boost oxygen efficiency. In one study, cyclists who drank half a litre of beetroot juice before a time trial were almost three per cent faster and able to produce more power per pedal stroke. In another study, cyclists who sipped the potent red juice were able to ride at a set intensity up to 16 per cent longer than those who didn’t. In fact, one of Stacher’s favourite pre-ride blends is beetroot, carrot, lime, and ginger. Certain fruits and vegetables also have post-ride benefits. “They replenish energy stores and contain concentrated antioxidants for recovery,” says dietitian Leslie P. Schilling. Antioxidant-dense cherries, for example, have been linked to reduced muscle pain and less post-ride fatigue.

“Everyone should be eating more fruits and vegetables to help prevent heart disease, fight cancer and lower blood pressure,” says Nancy Clark, author of The Cyclist’s Food Guide, “especially athletes, who regularly put their bodies to the test.” You can pack a whopping 1.3kg of organic produce into a single glass – which is easier than eating multiple servings in one day. But be aware of what you’re slurping down. Too much fruit juice just isn’t good for you, says Cherie Calbom, nutritionist and author of The Juice Lady’s Big Book of Juices. In fact, it can contain more kilojoules and sugar than soft drinks (yep, true). Vegetable juice, on the other hand, gives you the carbs you need for sustained energy without all the sugar. Load up
on the vegies and add just a bit of apple or lemon to sweeten the deal.

The jury’s still out on whether sipping your fruits and vegetables is better for you than eating them whole, but the verdict on juice versus supplements is in: “Vitamin supplements contain only vitamins,” says Clark. Real food contains thousands of additional bioactive compounds that work together to support good health, she explains. “You can’t get it all from juice,” says nutritionist and sports dietitian Wendy Jo Peterson, (see her recipes on these pages). While juice is packed with vitamins, minerals, enzymes and phytochemicals, it lacks muscle-building protein and essential fats. That’s why Peterson always recommends accompanying your pre-ride juice with eggs or a piece of toast with peanut butter. And if you’re thinking of a juice fast, think again: “If you’re eating well and staying hydrated, your body detoxes itself,” says Schilling.

Refreshing Green Machine 3 kale leaves ½ fresh fennel bulb and tops1 cup fresh parsley 1 whole lemon or lime, peeled 

½ green apple (or more) to sweeten

Tart Carrot Cocktail 3 carrots 1 green apple 1 whole lemon, peeled15 red grapes or frozen cherries

1 2cm piece fresh turmeric (or ¼ tsp ground turmeric)

Spicy Tropical Twister6 kale leaves1 cup fresh parsley1 cup fresh pineapple or papaya chunks1 whole lemon, peeled

½ jalapeño chilli (or one 2cm piece fresh ­ginger) 

Nutty Beetroot Booster1 beetroot2 whole oranges, peeled2 cups greens (beetroot greens or any other variety)1 2cm piece fresh ginger

½  cup almonds*