If you followed the weight loss journey my brother-in-law lived last year then you know about juicing. (check out his story here) He lost over 60 pounds by juicing and then switching to a vegan lifestyle. All you hear about these days is juice fasting. People that "juice" claim it is not only a great weight loss program but also can cure joint pain and other physical problems. I may be a little jaded about juice fasting due to the amount I had to hear about it from my bother-in-law for the last 18 months. One thing I can't argue with is the results. Everyone who juice fasts loses a ton of weight quick. Why? Well, basically because you are starving yourself. I am sure there are plenty of people that gain the weight back in a short amount of time but my bother-in-law has kept the weight off and is in much better shape than he was 70 pounds heavier than he is now.
Despite my skeptical feelings on juicing I felt it would make sense for me to try it. How can I comment on something I know nothing about? I figured I would try juicing for three days to see what this was all about. Now three days is not much of a commitment but I figured that would be enough to get a feel for this latest weight loss fad. I have heard everything about juicing. The pain of the first few days, rapid weight loss, cleansing of the mind and body,....blah, blah, blah....I will let you know the true facts.
Now I made sure that I did not tell anyone about what I had planned. The last thing I wanted was my brother-in-law to hear what I was planning and make a big deal out of it. I would simply go out and buy a juicer and then "juice" for three days. Easy..right? It would probably suck but at least I would know what people are talking about.
Since I do my long runs on Sunday I figured I would start my 3 days of juicing on Monday. I ran 12.2 miles in the heat and then went out and bought a juicer. There were a few choices but I bought a Dash Juicer. My next trip was to the grocery store to buy the fruits and vegetables I would be juicing.
Now you have to understand. My diet consists of the three food groups....meat, potatoes, and beer. I do eat an occasional fruit but I hate vegetables. My wife makes me eat a small amount of veggies at most meals (yes, like a kid) but I absolutely hate the taste and avoid veggies at all costs. Because of this I loaded up the cart with apples, oranges, grapefruit, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, etc. Basically if it was a fruit...it went into the cart. My wife made me grab some carrots and broccoli as well. Later in the day I setup the juicer, had a nice dinner of grilled chicken and a baked potato and then relaxed with a few beers. Good last meal before my three days of juicing.
Monday Day 1
I woke on Monday feeling normal but knowing (dreading) the fact that I was basically going to starve for the next three days. I also immediately missed my coffee. Oh well...I had my first "juice" which consisted of strawberries, blueberries, grapefruit, apples, plums, and nectarines. I had no recipe. I just threw a bunch of stuff in....Once the container was full I mixed it up and drank it. Not bad....Over the next several hours I kept sipping juice and I had a ton of water. I was hungry but not too bad. I did question why I was doing this several times but decided to keep going. I was fairly busy at work which helped. I noticed when there was a break in the action I was starting to feel hungry and think about food.
Through breakfast and lunch I finished my first juice which was about 4 cups of liquid. Dinner time came and I was considering just having water and skipping the juice. I was really sick of drinking juice and I was only 12 hours deep! My wife suggested we make a totally different mixture of juice so we made one with apples, grapes, strawberries, carrots, peppers, and even a few pieces of broccoli. I agreed to adding the veggies only because I knew I would never taste it. I ended up drinking 24 ounces of this new mix and it wasn't too bad and did taste a lot different. A couple of glasses of water ended my day. This sucks!
Tuesday Day 2
I woke up on Tuesday not feeling too bad but again dreading the fact I would miss my morning coffee and I couldn't eat anything. I lost 2.5 pounds in one day but I think if you only ate a small amount of Cheez-its a day I would lose weight too. I had my juice and now the real test. I have to run. Now I would usually run an easy 5-6 miles on Tuesday but I have heard (and assumed) that due to the lack of eating I would have no energy. I decided to run an easy 4 and see what happens. Now it had only been 32 hours since I had eaten real food so I figured this run would not be too bad and I was right. My energy level was a little down but I completed the 4 miles in 32:20 (805 pace) and felt OK.
The remainder of the day was absolutely terrible. My energy plummeted and I felt very lethargic and unmotivated. I found myself craving food and watching the clock hoping the day would end quickly. I did not have the energy or motivation to get anything done and basically wasted the day. I did perk up a little later in the day. I found a juice I enjoyed drinking (pineapple, melon, apple) and pounded 3 glasses of juice in a row. This energy was short lived and I soon felt weak and lethargic again. The good news was that by then the day was over and I went to bed. Day 2 complete!
What really sucks is there is a lot of enjoyment in eating and drinking. I am not talking about eating terrible foods like fast food, cakes, candy etc...I am talking about a nice piece of grilled chicken or fish, nice potato, pasta, etc. Not to mention a great cup of coffee and a cold beer. I look forward to great meals and going out to dinner with family and friends. With juicing you eliminate that entire part of your life. No more bars or restaurants....it is hard core. My first thought is that if you have to juice to lose weight then you probably should have a serious health issue and need to take extreme measures to turn your life around. This is not easy.
Wednesday Day 3
I woke up knowing I only have 24 hours to go. I can do this. I really can't believe people have gone 7, 10, or even 60 days with just juicing. This totally sucks. I can understand having a juice to replace one meal of the day but to only drink juice for all meals is terrible.
I wanted to get the full experience so I decided to run 6 miles easy with my wife despite my lack of energy. I had my juice and then headed out on my run. Based on my energy level on day 2 I wasn't sure I would be able to get it done. I managed to run about 4.5 miles before I bonked..no energy, weak, etc. I got dropped on the run but managed to finish in 55 minutes. I ran the last mile in 10 minutes. As soon as I finished I had juice and water but felt dead.
The remainder of day three was pure hell. Hunger pains, weakness, and for several hours I felt sick. Everything I thought about was related to food. The hours slowly ticked by and I somehow managed to only drink juice. I tried drinking multiple juices to bring myself back but at this point the juice seemed to have no effect on my hunger or energy level. I suffered miserably for the remainder of the day.
I planned the ending of the my third day to be no earlier than 4 AM on Thursday morning. In reality I had not eaten anything since dinner Sunday night. This did not seem like an issue before I started juice fasting but on day three I was kicking myself for adding on an additional 10 hours of juice fasting. I had my wife make me a nice plate of chicken and rice and put it in the refrigerator for Thursday morning. Finally the day ended.
Thursday Day 4
I woke up at 4 AM and immediately made a pot of decaf coffee and heated up my plate of chicken. Wow! That felt good! First food in 3.5 days!
Facts and Commentary
* I lost 5 pounds in 3 days- I truly do not believe juicing would be any different than extremely limiting your calories eating/drinking anything else. While only eating fruits and vegetables may appear healthier, you are definitely missing key components to a healthy diet such as protein, fat, fiber, etc. You will lose weight but you are starving yourself...why wouldn't you lose weight?
* Juicing resets your system- Utilizing an extreme diet can be helpful to break bad habits and totally shake up your life. The key is after a short period of turning your life upside down you cannot go back to your bad habits. It is just as important to have a plan post juicing. Juicing alone will not solve the problem. If you return to your old ways you will gain the weight back. That is why my brother-in-law has been successful. He had a plan post juicing to make sure he would not gain the weight back. Again read his three part story here.
* Juicing is great!- Anyone who tells you juicing isn't that bad is lying. Juicing sucks! Maybe it is easier for people who actually like to drink liquid fruits and vegetables. Not sure...for me basically I decided to spend 3 days drinking things I would not normally eat. On the flip side I may have had it a little easier because I switched to decaf coffee a few months ago. I never had a "caffeine" headache which many people get when juicing.
* Energy level?- I can only speak for myself. During my three days of juicing I was weak and had a total loss of energy. My energy levels were way below normal. Food=Fuel=Energy It is that simple. If you do not fuel your body then you will not have energy. I could still get things done but it was much more difficult in my weakened state. If you do not currently exercise then don't even consider trying to workout during the juice fast. In hindsight I probably should not have ran 10 miles during the fast as this probably took away a lot of the energy I had left.
I am happy I went through this exercise to see what juicing was all about. At this point I have no intention of ever trying to "juice" again. This exercise gives me more respect for the effort others have made to turn their lives around by juicing for extended periods of time.
Is juicing right for you? If you are looking for an extreme way to kick off a weight loss program then consider trying three days of juicing followed by a calorie restrictive diet. Hopefully you do not need this type of extreme dieting to lose weight. Exercise and calorie control is a much better way to go and a lot less painful.
Anyone want to buy a slightly used juicer?