Monday, April 7, 2014

Juice Fasting. Good Idea?

Last year sometime I watched the movie "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" (streaming free on Amazon if you have Prime) and was inspired by the whole "wow juicing changed my life and saved me" thing. I even dug out my old, crappy juicer and made myself fresh juices for awhile. I liked how I felt (I was not fasting, just having juices while also eating some regular healthy meals) but decided it was just too many carbs for me. After all, I've been low carbing in one form or another most of the time since early 2010, ranging anywhere from 50 to 100 grams of carbs per day. Juicing gives a lot more carbs... although I am not sure how many more... even if you use a lot more veggies than fruits. Higher carbs have, in the past, made me feel unwell and headachey. So, I pretty much ruled out juice fasting due to the carb content and effect on blood sugar.

However, lately I am just feeling so much of the "fat, sick" part and my mind has gone back to options like doing a Whole 30 or a juice fast. From what I've read online, most people doing an exclusive juice fast will still get about 40 grams of protein per day just from the juices. But I just don't know. Have any of you tried a juice fast? Had success or difficulty? I am in research mode but I am just so tired of feeling like crap and I wonder if this is something that might help me dig out of my rut of eating protein/veggies/protein bars and shakes for several days or a couple of weeks and then falling apart and eating a standard American diet for a couple of days, undoing any weight loss I had from the low carbing. I feel like I have been eating chemicals, at least for some meals on some days almost every month for the past 4 years. In fact on super busy days I have fallen back on eating almost everything from packets. I could try 'just' going back to eating whole natural foods, but I have even struggled with that in the past... sticking to it, getting weight loss results from it. I am not even sure if I could stick to a juice fast if I feel even crappier while doing it. But I dream of better energy, better sleep, feeling lighter, having less pain. Nothing I have tried so far has given me these results. Maybe the nutrients of a juice fast would.


Mary McNamara said...

Hi Lyn :)

I always love the idea of things like this - just fasting in general sounds so light and airy - in THEORY. Anytime I attempt something like this it sends me into binge mode because of the extreme restriction. I don't know - sometimes I just get so tired of thinking about food and my weight... it NEVER ends!
Thinking back to everything you have tried - when did you FEEL best??? Not just in regards to weightloss,but as a whole??? When I'm all confused and all over the place with my food, that's what I try to focus on.

Good luck whatever you decide!


Gwen said...

I personally would vote 'no' for the fructose/blood sugar reasons.

Melissa Villalobos said...

I felt amazing when I was on one. Full of energy, full of health. Unlike the one master cleanse fast I did, this one didn't make me feel puny. I actually had full energy, could even exercise, and the fact that I was losing weight quickly was invigorating too.

But I've done two, and wow does it do something crazy and physiological to my system. When I go off, I have 0 restraint. It's like being on my period + waking up for a nap + I've never eaten before ever. I really have never had that sort of hunger. And it lasts days. Weeks. In each case, I've ended up gaining a few pounds more than I was when I started.

This doesn't happen to everyone. But it does happen to a lot of people.

Also, just another note- I don't know that I'd pay too much attention to the people who are bound to post, with the same old "don't fast" trope. It's funny how you never get the same outrage for eating 5000 calories, being so overweight you compromise your physical mobility, and not being able to get out of a vicious cycle of overeating self-abuse.

Juice fasting isn't evil. It won't kill you. It's pretty drastic and may or may not be the right option for you. But the drama surrounding is pretty silly I think.

LuckyMama said...

Funny - I'm just now watching FS&ND. Just finished watching Fathead on Friday.

40 g protein a day seems a bit low to me to be able to maintain muscle mass.

Wish I had something more enlightening. I know you're struggling right now.

The important thing is to not give up even if you don't think you're making progress - Keep on!

~r. said...

oh yeah, i watched and loved the movie!

I juice fasted for a weekend, then had juice for my supper for months.

i lost weight....and felt AMAZING. really AMAZING.

the problem was my teeth......

they started literally shattering.

i would do it again, but for my teeth..

Lyn said...


wow really? That's kind of scary. I wonder why. I will look into that.

Monique Noel said...

You're better off eating whole fruits. There's more fiber in the whole fruits and your body burns more calories breaking the foods down (as opposed to using a blender to break the food down).

CatherineMarie said...

Lyn, here's my suggestion, for what its worth. Instead of a juicer, which takes away all the good fiber, invest in a good blender.

Summer is coming. Maybe you could sign up for a CSA share? That will help you eat all your veggies and expose you to some new ones.

I would just work at going "whole" as much as possible. Packets are going to encourage you to eat from packets. Cut down on the prepackaged meals. You don't have to eat either/or. Either "healthy" or the SAD. Just make "treats" from scratch. With kids in the house, the majority will get eaten up. You need to figure out moderation, not extremes. I know people who juice usually just do it for one meal.

I don't move as much as I should. I still have some chips, chocolate, etc, and am still heavier than I should be. But I also try to have healthier snacks on hand, make popcorn for dinner some nights, (air-popped, sometimes drizzled with something).

I do have some fall-backs I use, sometimes it is oatmeal for dinner, sometimes a bowl of cereal. I have found that I need carbs, I sleep better if I have carbs at night, protein in the morning. I try to add a fruit or veg to every meal. You may be like me, and need the whole-grain carbs.

A "fast" sounds like it would reset your system, but what it will actually do, because your body does not register calories drunk, is make your body think you are in starvation mode. So when you start eating again, you will gain weight.

Also, one more thought/suggestion. Don't do raw kale. You might be having borderline thyroid issues, and the kale could make that worse. Just cook it, and you will be fine.

The timing and frequency of your meals might be an issue as well. Are you snacking too much out of packets?

Maybe what you can do is just try to limit yourself to one packet a day.

Elizabeth said...

I won't offer an opinion on whether or not you should do a juice fast but I'll share my experience.

I tried to do a juice fast two different times. Each time it started out exciting and invigorating but by day 2 it felt horrible. When I finally stopped I had no restraint and kept feeling as though my whole body had been terribly deprived and I just kept wanting to eat and eat and eat. In the end it had the opposite effect on my weight loss goal.

Also, my doctor has told me to avoid juicing, juice fasts, and juice in general because of the sugar. While juicing an entire piece of fruit or vegetable does maintain most of the nutrients what juicing loses is the fiber from the plant and the fiber not only helps you to feel full and fight cravings but it assists in the digestion process to regulate blood sugar. Without the fiber from the fruit or vegetable itself juice has basically the same effect on the body and blood as eating a spoonful of sugar straight.

So, for those two reasons I avoid juice and juice fasts.

On another note, I have to tell you that I am right where you are emotionally and physically. I've gained back probably 25 pounds and while I'm eating healthfully 75% of the time the other 25% is killing me. I'm exhausted, plagued with headaches, stressed out, hating my body and desperately ready for something to change despite the fact that I have no energy or attention to put towards my weight right now. This is the point I'd usually be looking for a way to just "fix it".

But I know now that it isn't possible. There is no "fix" for this other than getting my focus back and giving up my will. Trying to find a fix, for me, is just more spinning my wheels. When I'm really ready to get back on the wagon I will. In the meanwhile I'm just trying to be nice to myself.

I hope you're being nice to yourself as you go through everything that you're struggling with. It's hard, but you're worth it.

Anonymous said...

Lyn have you tried a plant based diet? It's very healthy and you can eat as much as you want of plant based foods. Watch Forks Over Knives; I don't know if it's on Amazon Prime but it's on Netflix. It might be something you can work with and feel better. Also Dr.Joel Furhman follows a similar plan he has coined "nutrarian". If you look at his book Eat To Live he advocates a plant based diet but says if you don't want to give up meat eat a plant based diet 90% of the time.


I’ve been thinking about this lately, too. However, since I don’t have a juicer, I sought out info on how to get green juice in via blending instead of juicing. As someone who leans toward the “whole foods” are best camp, keeping all the fiber, etc. made sense to me. I’m also a big proponent of healthy fats and protein so going on a pure juice fast never appealed to me. I’m pretty sure some fat is needed to assimilate at least some of the vitamins.

I’ve been doing a smoothie for breakfast using protein powder (I like whey) and greens like spinach or kale. Then, at dinner, I make a green juice, which I blend for longer so it’s thinner. I drink that before or with my dinner to get an added boost of veggies. I think this strategy has resulted in me eating way more veggies in general and it’s crowding out other things. I love that approach – the idea of adding in good stuff instead of focusing on cutting out the bad. It makes me feel way more positive and not at all deprived. And I should say – these types of smoothies or juices (with the fiber) are incredibly filling. It really curbs my appetite in a good way – in a way that leaves me feeling satisfied, not like I just stuffed myself with veggies to fill myself up.

I discovered this site: Her “Free Juice Detox” program – link on the right of the homepage – outlined a program with lots of linked recipes. I’m not following it as written, just using it for ideas. (I am not affiliated with the site at all – just something I recently discovered).

I hope this is helpful and good luck, whatever you decide!

Rachel said...

I watched FS&ND a few years ago, too and after watching it I started juicing...but I never did a "fast". I know myself and know that fasting on something like juice would be detrimental to my mental health so I allowed some flexibility. I would juice for breakfast, have a snack, juice for lunch and then have a meal for dinner. Sometimes those would get switched around. Dinner was anything from grilled salmon to Subway....whatever I could manage that day. I ended up losing 20 pounds in about 2 months and it really sparked an interest in eliminating processed foods (I know subway is processed but I'm talking about frozen meals, meals from a packet, etc....I was a big fan of lean pockets and I have touched one of those in ages!) I snacked on a lot of fruit and I know that you have always watched your carbs really closely...and I never have. But I also believe that I didn't gain my weight my eating too much fruit :-)

I think you should give it a try....maybe not a full blown fast but incorporating it into your diet. You might be surprised with the results. Because I didn't fast, I never experienced the headaches, fatigue, or other detox symptoms but I felt great and energized! There are some amazing juice recipes, too! My favorite is sweet potato, pineapple and orange...yummy!!

Anonymous said...

No. Not a good idea. And you especially don't need a juice fast if you're trying to detox. Your body is designed to detox itself.


"5. Can you actually drop weight and keep it off with fasting? In a word, no. Remember the last time you had the flu and couldn’t keep anything down? Yep, you did drop some weight, most of it water weight, and perhaps a pound or two of fat, depending upon the length of non-eating time. However, as you recovered, you probably also remember in vivid detail how your hunger kicked in big time and before you knew it, you’d compensated for the weight loss and then some. This is actually a beautiful example of how incredible your body is when you provide it with a survival challenge."


"Fasting and Weight Loss

If you weed through all the controversy, you'll find that most medical experts agree on one thing: fasting is not a healthy weight loss tool.

"The appeal is that [fasting] is quick, but it is quick fluid loss, not substantial weight loss," says Madelyn Fernstrom, PhD, CNS, founder and director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Weight Loss Management Center."

There is a lot more out there from reputable sources explaining the details of why a juice fast is not a good idea. I just happened to have this handy because a friend was trying to convince me to go on a juice fast. Juicing and smoothies ARE a good way to get veggies if you don't like to eat them, but then you miss out on all the fiber.

Good luck! :)

Lyn said...

Very interesting thoughts and a lot for me to consider. I know the produce itself is in general better for us than just the juice from that produce, but what the proponents of juicing say is that you couldn't eat, say, an entire head of kale, 3 stalks of celery, a cucumber and a beet for one meal, but you can juice it and get all those nutrients into your body at once. So the appeal to me is getting tons of good healthy nutrients in a smaller volume. But yeah, the carb/sugar amount concerns me, and I would not want to only drink juice and not eat for weeks or months as some have done. I have thought about doing something like a 3 or 5 day juice fast and then switching over to eating the produce along with some healthy fats and meats, or rather than meats, going vegetarian and eating legumes. There's a lot of controversy about whether or not legumes are good for us, but I crave them and enjoy them so much I really would rather not cut them out.

Sharon said...

Whenever I hear juicing proponents talk about increased nutrition of juice I wonder if that is truly a good thing. Sure you can get 10x or 100x of whatever vitamin in one very rapidly digested glass of juice, but can your body actually use all of it? A lot of the water soluble vitamins will just be excreted. We evolved chewing our food, we didn't evolve with blenders and juicers. For me, smoothies and juice are very occasional treats.

JM said...

I m wondering if you are working with a good naturopath? They can do lots of tests to see what might work best for you, for me this would NOT work. I d be lightheaded and carb craving for sure. I agree that that immense dose of vitamins is not really necessary. I agree with whoever said, what were you doing when you FELT amazing? We all know what works, eat less, mainly veggies, and proteins as a side. No junk and water, that would do it. No juicing necessary, and exercise. BUT just because its simple dont make it easy. ARG!!!!

JM said...

also, i just looked at another blog on my feed, and it is a plus size fashion blog> I love to see those to see acceptance and celebration of our sizes, whatever they currently are. I think it is healthy too to work towards appreciating ourselves in all stages. Its hard when life is nutso, but its good to check out! I get so tired of thinking about FOOD all the time, which is why paleo works for me, and when I m bored or frustrated I check out some curvy girls looking awesome!

FredT said...

most people doing an exclusive juice fast will still get about 40 grams of protein per day just from the juices.

What fruit has more than trace amounts of protein? This is unlikely.

karen said...

Please consider plant based! This is a NO fat program that works. I've read testimonial about ending inflammation too.

There is a FREE 21 day McDougall Weight loss available on the internet. There are a few variations - Esselstyn, Fuhrman, Barnard. (all doctors, btw) Also there is a Youtube channel by Potato Strong.

You can eat as many of the foods as you want, no deprivation. And loss weight. I've lost about 40 pounds over a year and it stays off as long as I stay away from junk like cookies.

Hayley Weissmann said...

I have always wanted to try the juice fasting thing but was also feeling to same way you are. I get tired of trying the same thing exercising and constantly thinking about what I eat and how much. I have heard that the more vegetable based ones take a lot of sprucing up to make them taste better. Could you post some recipes you try?

Lyn said...


most juices in a juice fast contain vegetables, not primarily fruit. I haven't done the math myself, but for example a large carrot or a cup of raw spinach or celery each have 1 gram of protein, raw kale or raw beets each have 2 g/cup. Not sure how many cups of produce one would use if they were juice fasting, but the 40 grams average came from some sites I was reading about juicing and vegan diets.

JoJo said...

I am feeling everything you are dreaming of...more energy, better sleep, no aches and pains. I used most of Dr. Hyman's ideas to be sugar, flour and dairy free since March 10. I am definitely still fat, but have lost 17 lbs. 10 in 10 days and then a plateau with 7 in the last week. I am feeling good and am physically no longer addicted to sugar/flour.

Last week I found the movie you reference and got a $50 juicer and have tried a few of the recipes. Compared to what I am doing, the juicing seemed like a straight sugar shot to my brain. I didn't feel great. I may try to put some vegetable juice in what I am making based off Hyman.

I also watched Dr. Fuhrman on PBS this weekend. He is a little intense for me (gave me anxiety just listening to him). Hyman is more like "look this is not your fault--it is the big companies' fault for mixing up highly addicted concoctions." Fuhrman was more like be in control of what you are eating. For some reason Hyman really made it possible to kick my addiction for a little over 30 days. I will however incorporate some of Fuhrman into day. LIke you, I am off Medifast and really trying to avoid any kind of soy. Good luck in whatever you are trying to do next. Wish you could feel what I am feeling. I have NEVER been off sugar/flour before and still cannot believe it!

Raina Singh said...

Personally, doing a juice fast for me wouldn't work as I keep pretty active. However, I do love the cleansing feeling of a vegetable juice - beetroot, ginger, and carrot is my favourite. Personally, a fast just wouldn't fit in with what I do, I'd need to be not doing very much in order to do a fast - especially as my blood pressure and blood sugar levels are on the low end of normal.

Like someone else said, I think your investment is better in blender where you can make smoothies - that way the fibre stays in your smoothie while you get all of the nutrients with it.

In the end, it is your choice :) A site I like to follow is 'All About Juicing'.