Feast or Fast

Juice fasting...

Should you? Would you? Could you? Do a JUICE FAST? 

What the heck is a Juice Fast anyway?  

Sometimes called a JUICE FEAST, Juice fasts are temporary diets or cleanses, where you consumes only fruit and vegetable juices for a specific period of time, often 3-7 days but sometimes as long as a month. There have been people who have exclusively ‘juiced’ for much longer but they usually have medical supervision to make sure they are not endangering their overall health. 

Why would anyone want to only drink juice for a week or more? Well, These fasts promise quick weight loss, increased feelings of wellness and vitality, and to DETOX your body. Who doesn’t want to look great, feel great and be healthier? And gosh you don’t even have to COOK anything…you just make (or buy) your juices every day and you’re all set. 

But is this a good idea? Are these fasts really effective? 

Short answer NO, and sort of. 

Longer answer: While a quick 3 day juice fast probably won’t kill you (if you have serious health issues like diabetes, cancer, or a heart condition please talk to your doctor first if you are considering a fast of any type!)  they really aren’t necessary to improve your health, the results are quite temporary, and they are usually very expensive. Not to mention time and labor intensive if you are making your own juices at home. 

Let’s break this down a little further and focus on the most hyped aspects of Juice Fasts. Detoxing, Weight Loss, and 'Digestive Reset’ 

1. DETOX   These juicing programs claim that consuming only juices for the set time period will flush toxins out of your system rapidly and thus ratchet up your health dramatically.  True or False? Well, you’ll definitely be flushing a lot if all you’re taking in is juice! But it’s not necessarily toxins…Often people confuse the increased frequency of their bathroom trips with an increase in getting rid of toxins, but that’s not really the case. 

Your body is ‘detoxing’ 24/7 thanks to your liver, lymphatic system, respiratory system and kidneys. You expel toxins every time you urinate, sweat, exhale, and poop. Your liver takes care of processing the toxins in alcohol and drugs, as well as any other fat soluble toxins,  and your kidneys deal with all the water soluble toxins.  Then we can eliminate them from our bodies completely via all those things we mentioned earlier. While juicing will increase your trips to the bathroom you probably aren’t increasing the amount of toxins you’re eliminating. Your body cleans itself up at a fairly constant rate. Not much speeds it up or slows it down dramatically. What people often do is mistake the diarrhea that usually accompanies a juice fast for evidence of DETOXING. It isn’t, it’s just the natural consequence of consuming an all liquid diet. You may also be experiencing fatigue, dizzyness, brain fog, irritability, and bad breath…these are also often seen as evidence of detoxing, but in reality are a consequence of not getting enough calories and macro nutrients. 

2. Weight Loss. Will you lose weight on a juice fast? Maybe. If all you’re consuming is juice from fruits and vegetables, plus water, tea or coffee (as many of these programs allow) You will likely be taking in far fewer calories than usual. So you may indeed see a drop in overall body weight. But—what you’ll be losing primarily is water weight. Added to that, you’ll be getting little to no protein in your diet, so your body will start to break down lean mass to meet its protein needs for cellular health. Sounds great right? You’re hungry, running to the toilet frequently, and losing muscle. What’s not to love? And once you start to eat again, you’ll gain whatever water weight you lost right back, only you’ll likely have lowered your base metabolism thanks to having less lean mass and depending on how long you’ve fasted, you might have even triggered your body’s survival response thus you’re now carefully conserving every calorie coming in. hmmm

3. Digestive ReSet.  What?  If you’re having digestion issues, going on an all juice diet is probably one of the worst things you can do for yourself. You’ll be sending a boat load of sugar into your guts, without any fiber to mitigate its effects. If you already have an imbalance of bad gut bugs vs good gut bugs, you’ve just given the bad bugs a shot of exactly what they thrive on. And now your healthy bugs are overwhelmed and likely getting killed off in droves. Good work! You’ve now set yourself up for increased bowel disfunction and possibly severe gut issues in the future. 

But all is not gloom and doom. There are ways you can support your body’s ability to clean itself out and maximize functional health. And they don’t involve expensive juice deliveries or spending hours and big bucks making your own juices. 

1. Kick crappy processed foods out of your diet. 
2. Eat more colorful fruits and vegetables everyday. This way you’ll be getting all the fiber, vitamins, and micronutrients along with the natural sugars. Way better for you than just juice. 
3. Drink more water! This is what your body really needs to run effectively. I like to drink fancy schmancy mineral water, but good old filtered tap water is just fine too. 
4. Get adequate rest. Your body does its best work while you’re sleeping. 
5. Be careful about consuming alcohol and drugs…and this includes over the counter drugs as well as prescription and recreational drugs. Many OTC drugs can have a very negative effect on your liver…which is crucial to moving those fat soluble toxins out of your system. 

And if you absolutely INSIST on fasting I have two recommendations. 1. Keep it short…3 days max. and 2. Make it a water fast, bone broth fast (you’ll actually get protein with this choice), or use a blender to smoothie-fie your fruits and veggies so you can get their fiber content. 

But remember…there’s no real reason to fast….Eating real food, getting enough rest, and drinking water will keep you ticking along just fine. 

Have you done a fast in the past? What was your experience? Let me know in the comments!