The expression goes that a juice diet has three stages: “I’m hungry”, “this isn’t so bad”, and “please someone shoot me NOW”!
I had the opportunity to get a package from ‘A Choice for Life’ for a 5 day detox, and as I had just spent the past several months losing weight and getting into shape I was intrigued about the ability to ‘press reset’ on my system. So I decided to give it a shot.
Of course there were a few concerns and caveats:
- The ‘check with your doctor’ advice should always be taken seriously: I had a physical scheduled for the week prior, so I had a long chat before I got started. Like my wife, my doctor was not of the opinion that it was a great or necessary idea, but so long as I kept in tune with my body and quit the second things felt wrong, I could give it a try.
- Because I was also training for a marathon, I was concerned about the impact, so I gave myself an ‘out’ if it impacted my ability to get up and run 8-10 miles in the morning.
- Make sure you have a partner: I had my whole family lined up to provide constant reality checks.
I will go ahead and admit up front that I had to quit before completing the full five days for my primary reason – it interfered with my marathon training. But that isn’t the entire story – because like it or not, any story about a ‘juice diet’ has to involve an intimate relationship with your bathroom. So I apologize for THAT in advance.
Here is my experience:
The weekend before I started involved loads of running around and eating unlike I would normally be doing. Things like snacking on cookies at 9:30AM as we were setting up for our work division picnic, and going out to eat while we were school shopping that weekend. Going to bed the night before I definitely felt over-full, bloated and unlike I had for much of the past five months.
We went food shopping, and amongst everything else I needed a ton of fruit (peaches, pears, lemons, pineapple, watermelon, kiwis, grapes, and so on) and 100% juices (apple, pineapple, grapefruit and prune). These would constitute my life for the next five days.
I also had to prepare the materials – the kit consists of two pouches, one with the ‘protein replacement’ and the other with the ‘detox blend’. They were simple to make – the detox drink is basically an herbal tea that needed to steep for a while then chill overnight; the protein shake went into the blender with water to combine. The tea seemed pleasant enough but the shake seemed nasty. No one in my family wanted to try any of it.
For reference, we can call my weight at my doctor’s appointment +4 … since I ate like garbage the following weekend and felt loaded up and weighed more as a result.
Starting off the 5-day routine, I get up as usual and go for a somewhat shorter-than-normal morning run (it is labor day, I sleep in but my wife has to work). I return and weigh myself, which is my ’0′ point.
Weight = 0
Breakfast is 12 ounces of the ‘Tea’ and 6 ounces of ‘Protein’, along with a cup of apple juice and some fruit. Given my modest daily breakfast I felt STUFFED. I love fruit, so that was not an issue.
A couple of hours later, I went for a longer run; the herbal blend had gone to work and I had already spent a bit of ‘potty time’, which given how full I felt was a good thing. During the run I couldn’t get the taste of the herbal tea out of my palate … and not in a good way. I ran a bit longer than in the morning, ~8 miles for a 14 mile total for the day. Again I was determined to not have an impact on my training – and I had wanted 15 miles, but ‘nature was calling’, so I cut short my final loop.
After running, bathroom-ing and showering, I weighed myself; in spite of loading myself with fluids (water for the run), fruit and the tea & protein breakfast, I was down 6 pounds from earlier that morning. The most loss I had even measured pre/post run was 4 pounds. Interesting.
Weight = -6
In terms of eating, the rest of my day consisted of fruit and juice for lunch, then a smoothie with tea and fruit; juice with more fruit for dinner; and then finishing off the rest of the 64oz apple juice container.
In terms of everything else … my life was dictated by proximity to the bathroom. My energy level waned by mid-afternoon, and I was already full, so adding more fruit wasn’t going to work. We watched the movie Safe House, and I had to pause the movie a half-dozen times to make the dash.
In short, I felt like crap … and that was all I was doing. And the next day was a work day …
After a crappy night (in terms of sleeping, how I felt, and my multiple bathroom trips), I got up for my morning run. I am on medication that wants me to wait an hour before eating, so I always run on just water (or perhaps a Gu Chew) … so this was no different. I headed out, got down the street and … sprinted back home to make the ‘mad dash’.
There was no way I was running – and as I hit the bathroom AGAIN after my shower and morning tea & protein ritual, I realized that if I continued there was no way I would be running all week. The bathroom issues aside, my energy was WAY down and I had yet to shake the flavor of the tea, which had by now become a rather sickening flavor instead of the pleasant herbal taste when it was brewing. So my stomach felt constantly queasy, I wasn’t enjoying fruit (which I LOVE). I did weigh myself after my shower … and was down 10 pounds – in 24 hours.
Weight = -10
In other words … I was DONE. No more juice diet – but I would remain ‘fruit centric’. I had some peanut butter toast with my fruit for breakfast, a grilled chicken Caesar salad for lunch and a normal dinner.
And while my bathroom habits were still ‘over-zealous’, it was nowhere near the problem it was on Day 1.
On Day 3 I woke up pretty well rested but still lacking in energy. The run was slower than normal, and my muscles ached. Because I was off the juice diet, I went out for my run and weighed myself after my shower and admit that I was surprised at what I saw given how much solid food I had eaten the day before:
Weight = -14
That is right – I had managed to shed another 4 pounds! Judie and Carly assumed it was water, but my bigger concern was that based on my activity level and metabolism that I had started burning muscle. I decided to weigh myself every other day for the next week to see what was happening as I ramped up my eating to normal.
Day 3 also had my last bathroom visit that felt induced by the tea mixture. Thank goodness.
One Week Later:
After another slow running day I did two ‘doubles’ (two runs per day) that amounted to 44 miles in 48 hours. Hardcore, I know – but I had lost too much time in my training routine and knew the weekend would be broken up with shorter runs due to other plans. I was applying peanut butter to toast with a trowel at this point, constantly had almonds or trail mix or fresh fruit in a baggie with me at work, and knew that I was burning several thousand calories per day.
I continued weighing myself after my shower, and here are the results:
Day 5 Weight = -15
Day 7 Weight = -14
Day 8 Weight = -14.5
Day 9 Weight = -14
I also have it as an overall chart:
In other words, it seems like I dropped a bunch of weight and it has stayed off for a week since stopping the ‘juice cleanse’. This is reflected in taking my belt in a notch since last week as well.
Had weight loss been my goal, I would have probably stuck with it longer and skipped my runs and just dealt with the bathroom impact. But my goal was the whole ‘reset your system’ claim that it could “flush toxic vestiges of processed food, drugs, alcohol, and swallowed glow sticks “, or as found here:
Juice fasting offers a great way to detox and increase health and vitality. The nutritional gusto of fresh organic juices will help your body to heal, rebuild, and detoxify waste products. Even short fasts are beneficial toward leading you to a greater sense of well-being.
Many health professionals feel juice fasting to be THE fast to perform, as it is gentler than water fasting, giving your body high-quality nutrients in readily available form for your body to use toward rebuilding.
Instead, what happened was that I was reminded of when my wife was preparing for a colonoscopy, totally flushing pretty much EVERYTHING out of my system and using fruits and juices to provide some nutrients for the short time they are in my system – but also loads of fiber to keep things moving.
It was one thing to have my intestinal track flushed … it was another to have all of my energy go along with it. Training for a marathon is demanding, which is what led everyone to call me ‘stupid’ for doing this juice detox simultaneously. But I assumed that I would simply be able to increase my fluid and fruit intake to compensate for the several thousand calories I am burning every day on my running regime. Not only was that NOT true, but the energy drain over the two days (really one and a half) I engaged in the detox took me several days to regain, and I wasn’t ‘right’ until I took a full day to relax and eat recovery foods.
The reason I stress all of this is because NOWHERE does the plan discuss activity level or exercise restrictions; my doctor talked about it with me, and a quick web search said the same, so I knew to look for significantly enhanced fatigue. But the detox plan? Nothing.
The quote above talks about what ‘health professionals’ say; but no one I have talked to thinks that this is really a good idea, and the medical evidence of any benefit is … lacking. Balance is what everyone seems to call for – sure there is constant back and forth about proteins, carbs, and so on … but again, it comes back to balanced intake and that a normally functioning system has no real need for a ‘detox cleanse’.
My advice? Stay away from these things! And if you are physically active, stay FAR away – because the nutritional routine you have set up will be disrupted, and it will take a while to get things back to normal.
Have you ever tried a crazy fad detox such as this? Tell us about your experience!