Increased energy. Reduced food cravings. Mental clarity. These are just a few of the benefits attributed to juice fasting, AKA cleansing. And, of course, weight loss is a big draw for many. Serious juice-heads blend their own DIY concoctions and fast for days on end, but the growing number of pre-packaged delivery services makes it super-easy for newbies like me. And the latest programs offer simplified one-day regimes said to “reset” one’s relationship to healthy eating. Intrigued, I signed up for two all-liquid days with two different programs: The Classic Reset from ritualwellness.com and Juice for a Day from coolercleanse.com.
Each day began with a bottle of green juice, starring the likes of kale, cucumber and spinach enlivened with green apple and lemon. At two hour intervals came other flavors like carrot-ginger, pineapple-orange-lime, carrot-apple-beet and cayenne-spiked lemonade—plus another dose of the green stuff (which is delish, by the way). The sixth and last bottle was “dessert” — vanilla-laced hemp milk one night, cinnamon-spiked cashew milk the next.
It was all surprisingly filling, much to my relief. I never felt weak, starving or shaky. But I can’t say I felt extra energized or that my powers of concentration were any better. If anything, I felt calm, maybe even a tad spacey. The biggest challenge was watching my husband cook dinner for one. I missed having a glass of wine. And coffee. But I stayed the course, which made me feel like an all-around superior being.
So, how did I fare, post-juice? I can’t lie, I was glad to get back to normal eating. But I’m eating better food and less of it, aiming for more vegetables, less cheese. As for weight loss, I shed a total of one pound. “Juice regimes typically provide between 800 and 1,000 calories, which is calorie deprivation,” says Rebecca Fuller, RD, dietician at the Fashion Institute of Technology and at NYU Coles Sports Center in New York City. “Any initial weight lost on a fast is primarily water weight, and it will likely be regained as soon as you start eating normally again. You may even gain a few pounds because calorie deprivation results in a slower metabolism, which makes it easier to put on weight.”
Instead of instant weight-loss gratification, look at juicing from a health perspective, Fuller suggests, because there are benefits to be reaped: “If you’re a soda drinker, try swapping your soft drink for a tasty green juice. It’s filled with nutrients, antioxidants and chlorophyll, which can help with everything from anti-aging to prevention of cancer and heart disease. While the calories won’t be much different, the benefits sure are!”
Dietician Rebecca Fuller weighs in on juice regimes:
- Juicing can be a fun way to increase your intake of beneficial vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
- It can break your cravings for sweets by getting you away from sugary treats and the swings that they cause in your blood-sugar levels. Once those levels have become more even, it’s easier to resist that chocolate bar!
- While there is no scientific evidence to support this, many people report feeling energized and experience an elevation in mood while fasting. I always tell my clients that if something makes you feel good, and it’s not harmful to your body, then you really are benefiting.
- Juicing can be a way to reset your dietary habits. As you reincorporate solid foods back into your diet, try eating a cleaner diet with fewer processed foods.
- It's expensive! The cost per day ranges from about $58 to $80.
- The typical juice fast provides less than half of your protein needs for the day and falls 200-400 calories short of the minimum amount that is recommended to maintain and efficient metabolism and lean body mass.
- There is little to no scientific evidence that juice fasting works for weightloss. Typically, the small amount of weight that may be lost during fasting is water weight, and you will quickly regain that weight — and possibly more — when you start eating again.
- While juice fasts lasting 1-3 days aren't likely to be harmful for a healthy adult, not everyone is going to feel great on these regimens Side effects like fatigue, nausea, feeling dizzy or light headed and muscle aches are often reported during fasting.
Photo Credit: Food Matters NYC