Juice Boxes – Good for Athletes?

Recently I was asked to join a Program Advisory Committee for the Okanagan College Human Kinetics program by my friend Dr. Greg DuManoir. You may know Greg from Okanagan College as a professor. Or maybe you attended the Okanagan Strength & Conditioning Conference which Greg and I co-host. It could also be that you’ve crossed paths with Greg at Okanagan Peak Performance Inc where he trains.

This is an exciting invitation as it allows us to provide feedback to the academic world as to what their graduates are doing really well at when they enter the job force. We are also able to give insights into skill sets that would benefit students once they begin their careers. And we are also able to share the trends that we are observing with respect to training in the post-rehabiliation, weight loss and athletic development fields.

But that’s not the real topic I’m going to cover in this post. Instead it has a nutritional theme which came to me during our first meeting yesterday.

As with all meetings, our hosts at Okanagan College were gracious in offering us a variety of hot beverages as well as cold drinks in the form of juice boxes. It was at this point in the meeting that I leaned over to Greg and thanked him for the idea for my next blog article 🙂

To be fair I know Greg wasn’t the one who made the drink selection for the meeting and I’m just giving him a hard time. But it reminds me of a conference I attended in Seattle with Kayla last year. The lunch at this ‘fitness’ conference included cookies, potato chips and cans of pop.

‘Now, hold on’ you’re probably thinking, ‘there’s no way juice boxes can be lumped in the same category as the other pieces of junk food?’

You’re right, of course. I wouldn’t put juice boxes in the same category as potato chips because I believe juice boxes are worse.

‘What? How can that be?’ you may be thinking.

Let me explain. Actually I l’ll it out in three points Why Juice Boxes are Worse Than Potato Chips.

1. Liquid Versus Solid

The unfortunate thing about junk foods in the liquid form is how quickly they can be consumed. I believe they have since taken it off the menu but for a while Cold Stone had a PB&J milk shake with 2100 calories. That’s crazy!

But the unfortunate thing is that we are able to quickly and easily drink calories compared to chewing, swallowing and digesting a bag of potato chips. And when they say speed kills in sports the same applies to the liquids you drink.

2. Appearance of Healthy

If you were to place some french fries, a cookie and a juice box in front of a five year old which one do you think they would pick as the healthiest?

What about if you did the same test with the five year old’s mother?

You’d probably get the same selection from both wouldn’t you? And that is what is unfortunate. I remember growing when parents would send with their kids to school with junk food for lunch but throw a juice box in there so at least they got something healthy for lunch.

This is what it is dangerous. We consider juice to be a healthy snack. And we think it is a good choice to feed our children. But it’s not. And the next point explains why.

3. Not All Sugars are Equal

For some people they look at junk food as empty calories. This is unfortunate.

Would the same people call alcohol empty calories? Or would they recognize the potential health risks associated with consuming alcohol? Most would be aware that excessive consumption of alcohol leads to a number of diseases and health problems.

In the same way we need to recognize juice as not just empty calories but containing a good dose of fructose. Fructose is unique in that only a very small percentage of it can be metabolized by the liver (less than 1 cal out of 120).

Guess what happens to the rest? It gets stored as fat.

Other sugars, such as glucose, may be used by a variety of cells in the body and also stored as glycogen for athletic performance. Fructose lacks these options for metabolism and can only be processed by your liver. Excessive feeding of fructose to the liver, over time, may lead to something known as Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).

So to get back to the point above. Greg, I am really honoured to be apart of this committee. However, if I’m going to tax my liver I’d prefer so with a pint of the Back Hand of God. You may be familiar 🙂





2 Responses to Juice Boxes – Good for Athletes?

  1. Greg duManoir says:


    But I do like your suggestion. I’ll see if I can get some of the BHOG for the next meeting.

    And, we’re honoured to have you. The excitement, integrity and drive that you display in your business and with your clients will only benefit our program!


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