Truth be told, I can’t tell you my exact reasoning for starting a juice cleanse. Part of me wanted to get closer to my ideal physique; another wanted to wash away over two decades' worth of toxins. Yet another wanted to see what all the hype was about. Now, let me start off by saying Brad Pitt and I are not being mistaken for each other. I haven’t developed any superhuman senses, and my skin tone has stayed the same. However, a pound or two did come off after my week with the blender, and I did have enough energy to hit the gym every day in part due to certain concessions I made in the pursuit of healthiness.
I should probably clarify that I did not adhere to a strict juicing regimen that eliminated all solid foods, but that’s only because I did my homework. For the sake of getting a sufficient amount of fiber, I did not eliminate whole fruits and vegetables. Strict juice cleanses that require you to get rid of pulp from blended fruits and vegetables tend to remove all fiber from our diet. As you may know, fiber is essential to maintaining a healthy digestive system and also helps to regulate our body’s use of sugar. I was also unwilling to cut out my daily protein intake. After all, I am a growing boy that enjoys his gym time. A strict juice cleanse that forbids any solid food is not what most nutritional experts recommend.
“Juice cleansing has become the mainstream quick and easy way to achieve 'health' and 'detoxify the body,'" Carrington Organics Health and Nutrition Consultant Deborah Orlick Levy M.S., R.D. told Medical Daily in an email. “However, there is nothing in the medical literature to affirm that the body needs an outside source to cleanse itself. The body has its own way of detoxifying and does not need to be cleansed. Also, the ready-to-drink products are outrageously high in sugar content and low in fiber which can negate their so-called health benefits."
"In fact, I had a client come to me after he had been liberally drinking these products and was then informed by his doctor that his blood glucose level was high. This is a young man who exercised daily and tried to make seemingly healthy choices. But, these high sugar juices became a problem for his health,” she added.
Let’s get down to my eating schedule for the past week. Since I gave myself seven days to complete my experiment, I never really strayed from the daily routine. Mornings consisted of what I called the Green Juice:
Ingredients (all for a single drink):
1 cup of spinach
1 stalk of celery
1 head of romaine lettuce
Half of an apple
Half of a banana
Half of a pear
Half of a lemon
By the afternoon it was time for the Berry Drink.
Half of an apple
Half a banana
Last but not least was the Orange Drink.
1-inch cube of ginger
Make sure all juice is made the day of consumption, and do your research before substituting a more palatable ingredient.
As I mentioned, certain concessions were made so my digestion wasn’t interrupted. I had enough energy to make the gym, and my muscles could recover afterward. After my morning workout, I did sneak in my daily protein shake made with EAS Lean 15 protein powder and egg whites. For a snack, I allowed myself one cup of almonds per day and two whole pieces of a fruit or vegetable, but only ones that were included in the juice I had prior to the snack. Unable to comply with a vegetarian diet even for a week, in between lunch and dinner (Berry Drink and Orange Drink), I indulged in one can of tuna in water, dressed up with plain Greek yogurt, half of an avocado, and half a tomato. Thus, concludes my week without pizza.
Some of the immediate effects I experienced during the “cleanse” was a surprisingly improved energy output. Before starting, I was convinced I would be lethargic throughout the day. Instead, I was more upbeat than usual and found myself spending more time at the gym. Another unexpected result was the impact it had on some of my gastrointestinal issues. For example, sitting at a desk all day, glued to my computer monitor and forgetting to stand up usually causes stomach cramps or bloating by the afternoon. While I don’t recommend sitting for the majority of your day, I found myself able to finish my work without feeling like a war was going on in my stomach. Lastly, I found juicing gave me the opportunity to work an assortment of fruits and vegetables into my diet, including ones I wouldn’t normally think to eat. That’s not to say I neglect produce, but eating green stuff without unhealthy additives such as high calorie dressings is rare.
Before starting your very own juice cleanse, there are few things you should know. First of all, don’t worry about going out and getting a top-of-the-line juicer that will cost you upward of $300. Your ordinary blender will work just fine, so long as you remember to thoroughly blend each item and give it one more mix before consuming. Second, don’t expect the pounds to come flying off or to be cured of all your illnesses. Even if you stand by a stricter juice regimen than I did, getting rid of fiber and protein will affect what your body does with calorie intake. Most importantly, only use organic fruits and vegetables. This may seem nitpicky, but it’s the only way to ensure your juice is free from any pesticides and oxidation. These are the enemy of any health diet and can destroy the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients juicing is intended for.
“I do not advocate the need for a juice cleanse. Sometimes people insist on trying it, though. My recommendation is always to limit to 3 days or less,” Orlick Levy said. “I always advise that it's healthier for the body to eat whole fruits and vegetables because of the high fiber content and satiety factor. Long term juice cleansing is unsustainable and unhealthy. Eating whole foods and making healthier choices will last your lifetime.”