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Before I get into this weeks post, it is very important that if you are considering any kind of fasting, whether it be juice fasting or water fasting, you check with a medical professional first. This kind of dietary change is not for everyone so get your health checked first to see if it's for you.
So, with that out the way lets get into it.
Juicing: what is it? Why should I try it? What can I expect?
Let me warn you from the get go, some parts of this post well be brutally honest. I have tried 2 types of fasting myself and there are some bodily reactions that not everyone is going to love reading about. So if you're squeamish, perhaps finish your sandwich before going further.
What is juicing?
This may be somewhat self-explanatory for most, but just in case I'll clarify it. Juicing is the process of extracting ONLY the juice out of fruits and vegetables. No pulp, no solids, just pure juice.
A few basic premises
Firstly, juicing fruits and vegetables every day can be a fantastic way to get extra vitamins into your diet. The vast majority of us don't have time during the day to ensure we eat enough fruits and vegetables with every meal, so adding a vegetable juice to lunch or dinner goes a long way in ramping up the vitamin intake.
Just like anything these days, there is a lot of conflicting information out there to read. Where do you start? Really, who do you believe? I am going to give you my personal experience with juicing and my personal opinion, based on the research I've read. You will have to make up your own mind.
As I said right at the start, juicing, as in juice cleansing and juice fasting, is NOT suitable for everyone. Never embark on a juice cleanse without first consulting a health professional. I can't express that strongly enough.
Juice fasting and cleansing involves drinking only juice for a specific period of time. No solid foods are taken.
So where do I start?
So, most juice fasts or cleanses range from between 3 and 30 days. The theory behind doing a juice cleanse is to support the body during its natural detoxification of tissues. By eliminating the solid part of the fruit or vegetable, you're taking in only the nutrients and allowing your digestive system to also have a rest from its daily grind.
You said support? I thought juice cleansing was detoxing!
Lets get this straight. There really is no such thing as starting a detox. Your body is detoxing you all day, every day, forever and ever. That's the role of, among other things, your liver. Your blood is constantly being detoxed. Your lymphatic system takes away all the nasties out of your system all the time. By 'doing a detox' you are simply allowing your already very efficient and usually overworked detoxification processes to work with less hindrance.
So what do I do?
One of the most important phases of a juice cleanse is to prepare. Imagine you've been snuggled up in a nice warm bed and all of a sudden you're picked up and hurled into an icy bath. You'd be pretty shocked by the sudden change, and quite frankly, down right angry. Preparing for a juice cleanse is the same. To go from eating a pizza and 6 beers one night, to only drinking juice for the 3 following days is going to shock your system like that icy cold bath. So wind it down. Switch from the pizza, chocolate and beers, to some good wholesome foods. Lightly cooked vegetables and maybe some pasta for a day or two, working down to light salads by the day before, with plenty of fresh clean water.
From day 1 to ...
Here is where my own personal experience comes in. The juice cleanse I did was 5 weeks. I know that sounds like a lot, but that's what was suitable for me. If you're looking to just give your system a bit of a rest, go for 1 to 3 days. If you're looking at flushing out consistent unhealthy living, aim for longer. My own diet is very good so the length of time I opted for was not for flushing out. I chose 5 weeks so I had the experience of 5 weeks, so I could share that experience with my clients if needed.
What can I expect?
Now this is, in my opinion, where most information you find online falls down. It's my
experience that everybody experiences it differently. For example, I drink coffee every day. In some people's opinion, I drink too much coffee. However, if I don't drink coffee for a few days, I experience zero withdrawal symptoms. Others cannot go more than a morning without their cup of Joe, without getting pounding headaches.
Similarly, juicing can be the same. Day one is usually the same for most people. You feel pretty fine, if a little (or a lot) hungry.
Days 2 and 3 seem to be pretty hard for most, with hunger and constant thoughts of food, seeping through every cell and action you take in the day. This is why 3 days is considered average and good for most as it becomes more difficult to maintain after that.
Days 4 to 7, you start to feel like something is moving. A lot of people report headaches and feeling pretty low and miserable. You really get the feeling you're 'detoxing' at this stage. I use the word 'you' as in for the majority. For me, I felt no different other than I was hungry all the time.
After day 7, 'they' say your hunger goes away. Maybe it does for some, but for me I was hungry for 5 weeks.
If you're squeamish, skip this part
I'm going to share with you now what happened after day 7. Prettily put, what went in as juice, came out as juice. It took only an hour or two to make its way though my system, and had I not been at home, I would not have made it to the bathroom on time. This continued daily, and occasionally nightly, right to the end of week 5.
I work from home so can nip to the toilet at any time. And you might not experience the same reaction as me. But be warned, liquid in, liquid out. I have also read that if you are a meat eater, there can be a lot of 'shifting' of impacted feces from the colon, which may not smell the greatest either. I've been vegetarian for years and at that point had already been on a plant based diet for over 6 months so did not have those kinds of issues.
Back to the less nasty side of things
In order to properly cleanse, you really need to eat organic fruits and vegetables. There's no point trying to support detoxification processes if you're adding to the problem with pesticides.
It's also a good idea not to plan anything too strenuous. No heavy exercise, no parties, nothing that could put extra strain on not only your body, but also your will power. You're drastically reducing your calorie consumption on a juice cleanse so you need to preserve your energy for living, breathing and thinking. That said, some gentle yoga or walking outside is recommended.
What should I juice?
This is a very good question and in basic terms you need to stick to an 80/20 ratio. 80%
vegetables and 20% fruits. Fruit is an excellent source of nutrients and should be eaten regularly as a whole fruit. But when you extract the juice from the fruit, you no longer have the fiber attached which normally helps to slow the absorption of the natural fruit sugars. So avoiding spikes in blood sugar is as important whilst juicing as it is in normal day to day nutrition.
I've read a lot of info on juicing and what to juice, and it's my opinion that some of the best advice and recipes are on the website https://www.rebootwithjoe.com/ . You may have seen a documentary on Netflix called 'Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead'. If you haven't watched it, I highly recommend it. It documents Joe's journey from sickness to health, through juicing. The recipes section of the site has lots of really great ideas and if you can get the produce, are worth trying out.
What happened after 5 weeks?
After 5 weeks of juicing, I felt absolutely fantastic. I was sleeping better, my skin looked glowing and my friends said they noticed the difference. I also lost just over 20 pounds.
Would I do it again? Absolutely not. Not for that long anyway.
Would I recommend it for weight-loss? Yes, of course. BUT and this is a massive but, when you finish your juice cleanse, you absolutely cannot go back to your old eating habits. If you do, you will put the weight right back on, and probably more, and be stuck in that never ending cycle of dieting, not dieting.
How many juices should I drink per day?
You're aiming to drink about half a liter (a pint) of juice, 5 to 6 times per day for 12 hours of the day. So if you start with a juice at 8am for breakfast, you'd have one every 2-3 hours during the day. Variety is key so try to mix up what you have. And drink SLOWLY. You want to optimize your nutrient intake so give your system a chance to absorb every nutritive it can.
Plus drink water. 2 liters a day is fine. Juice is liquid, but it's not water. Water is still important. You can add some herbal teas in for some flavour variation if required.
You're going to need a juicer
A small but important detail is the requirement of a machine to extract the juice. The quality and amount of juice you get out of your produce will depend on how much you can afford to give out for your juicer. I bought a mid range, centrifugal type juicer and it actually was a bit of a pain. The pulp was still quite wet, which it really shouldn't be, and it was a real bind to clean every time. So invest in a slow juicer. You'll get way more juice out, plus you can juice leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, which are pretty useless in a standard centrifugal juicer.
The following links are affiliate links for which I receive a percentage of the payment price should you wish to purchase through this link.
For US purchases: FAMTOP Slow Masticating Juicer Extractor
For UK purchases: Slow Juicer Masticating Juicer
After the cleanse
The few days after you've cleansed, are as important as the cleanse preparation. Start with
light foods. Salads and steamed vegetables. If you're a meat eater, work back up to meat after 5-6 days or even longer. Better still, cut back to minimum meat eating. Your system won't be ready to tackle meat the day after coming off the cleanse. Don't jump right into that icy bath.
If you've successfully managed a long cleanse, think about how much better you feel having made the change to wholesome foods. You may want to use that as the catalyst for change.
DIETS DON'T WORK. They just don't. Healthy and long term weightloss comes through consistent changes to healthy eating habits.
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