Well, I finally did it. I gave my blender a vacation and plunged head first into a five-day juice fast (or juice feast, as some prefer to call it).
To be honest, I wasn’t exactly excited about it, either. I mean, I love to eat, so the thought of doing a juice fast scared me a little. But I wanted to experience one first hand.
I’ve written about juice fasting before. Long term weight loss is best facilitated by permanent lifestyle and diet changes rather than short term liquid starvation diets that are not sustainable. When you end the juice fast and return to old eating habits, the weight will always come back.
This is the first fast I have ever done. I’ve never once felt the need to do one before. I am often surprised and perplexed when I hear raw foodists and other healthy eaters say that they need (or want) to do a juice fast. I wanted to see how a juice fast might improve my sense of well being, beyond what I already feel from my healthy diet.
Since being introduced to green smoothies back in 2008, my diet has transformed over the years. For the last two years, I have eaten a low-fat, mostly raw vegan diet. I eat a LOT of fresh sweet fruit, about two bunches of leafy greens per day and small amounts of plant fats like avocados, nuts and seeds. I do eat cooked quinoa, brown rice, beans and steamed veggies as well. I have made a lot of fitness gains on this diet, not to mention the 40 pounds I lost. I feel the best I’ve ever felt in my life.
My 5-Day Juice Fast Protocol
I followed a 5-day juice fasting protocol that involved starting the day with coconut water and lime. Then I made a large juice using lots of fruits and greens for breakfast. My lunch juice included vegetables and greens, but less fruit. My dinner juices were savory and usually contained no fruit. On average, each juice was about 32 ounces. I also drank tea whenever I felt like it.
I purchased an Omega 8005 masticating juicer to do this juice fast (I ordered mine from Amazon.com). I always wanted to get a juicer so this was a good excuse to finally purchase one. I’ll write more about this juicer in a future post, but I really like it a lot and I’m glad I bought it.
I didn’t come up with my own juicing recipes and instead relied on an e-book that outlined a 5-day fasting protocol complete with recipes. I’m actually glad I followed a program because it guided me though everything I needed to know about my fast and gave me lots of great recipes. I’m not sure I would have been as successful with the juice fast had I tried to wing it on my own.
My Juice Fast Results
I thought that the first day was going to be the toughest. It wasn’t. In fact, I felt amazing during the first two days. I can see why people would fast for spiritual reasons. Waking up on day two with the feeling on nothing inside my body felt great.
I can’t say that I felt an increase of energy. My energy levels stayed the same. I reigned in my usually intensive workouts during the five days to conserve energy.
I was surprised at my lack of hunger. I thought that it was going to be a struggle, but for the most part I was never starving or craving food. I was also surprised at how much water I drank in addition to the juices.
I did however, have a mild headache almost every day. It wouldn’t last all day, though. On the second day, I made the mistake of waiting to have my green juice for a couple of hours after I woke up. I wasn’t hungry and was enjoying my “light” feeling. All of a sudden, I could feel my blood sugar plummet and I became dizzy. Needless to say, I made my juices first thing in the morning during the rest of the fast.
Despite enjoying the feeling of “lightness” during the first two days of my juice fast, I stop noticing it by day three. My diet is so healthy as is that I didn’t experience any “detox” symptoms and there wasn’t any dramatic health improvements beyond what I’ve already experienced with green smoothies and whole foods.
As my juice fast progressed into the final three days, I grew frustrated at the fact that I couldn’t work out at the intensity I was used to. I was ready for the fast to be over. I really missed my intense workouts.
I did take it easy over the five days that I drank nothing but green juices. I watched several movies, caught up on some reading and socialized with friends – all the while exercising my willpower to not join them in dining out.
Sorry, but I have to go there. If this is a little too personal for you, go ahead and skip to the next section.
I just want to touch on the subject of bowel movements while doing a juice fast because I’ve heard from a few people who said that they continued to have solid bowel movements well into a 30 or 90-day juice fast. Some people believe that the reason that solid feces is expelled despite a liquid diet is that the body is expelling years worth of impacted feces (or “mucoid plaque”).
There is absolutely no credible scientific evidence supporting the notion of mucoid plaque, impacted feces or even that your colon stores waste material long term. When you have a bowel movement during an extended juice fast, what is happening is that your body is expelling fiber that slips into the juice from the juicing process.
Your body also expels internal (non dietary) waste materials (dead cells) via fecal matter, so even if you go on liquids, you can still poo. It has nothing to do with impacted feces or well aged, poo-spackled interior walls of your colon just hanging on for dear life until a green juice (or colon cleanse) washes it away.
What I Liked About Juice Fasting
1 – The Juices Were Delicious: With the exception of one vomit flavored concoction, the juices were delicious and a pleasure to drink.
2 – Spiritual Feeling: It’s hard to explain the feeling I had during the first two days on the juice fast. I don’t really consider myself a religious person, but I can definitely see why someone would do a juice fast to experience or enhance a feeling of “spiritual connectedness”.
3 – Weight Loss: Okay, so I “sorta” like this aspect of juice fasting. Weight loss is a big reason why many people do a juice fast. I didn’t need to lose weight, but I wasn’t at all surprised that I lost about five pounds over the five days. Juice fasting results in a severe reduction of calories so there’s some weight loss with that. I’ve heard of people losing 10 to 11 pounds on a 5-day juice fast. It just depends on how much weight you have to lose.
However, I do not promote or agree with using juice fasting for weight loss. Juice fasting is a temporary “quick fix” solution that will not facilitate long term weight loss. It’s not a healthy habit long term and can lead to nutrient deficiencies and metabolism disruptions if done too often or for too long. There’s no getting around the fact that a juice fast is basically liquid starvation to facilitate weight loss. For healthy, long-term weight loss, my proven protocol is green smoothies and whole foods with long-term, diet and lifestyle changes.