I’ve made my own carrot juice off and on for a long time using an old 1970′s era Champion Juicer that my parents gifted to me as a relic from their earlier hippie days. But, that’s always been an occasional undertaking. Several months ago I started reading about people rejuvenating their health by undertaking a long term juice fast or juice feast as some like to call it. The fast consisted of nothing but freshly made fruit and vegetable juices, herbal teas, water and some minor supplements. The results appeared to be nothing short of amazing. From people lowering blood pressure, sending chronic diseases into remission and even eliminating the effects of diabetes. Then about 2 months ago I got on a major health kick and the next thing I knew I was undertaking my own juice feast.
One Day At a Time
At first it was hard. I mean going from a “normal” diet to having nothing more than 4 quarts of juice and water or herbal tea every day was a shock to the system. In fact, for the first 4 or 5 days all I wanted to do was curl up in bed and sleep. There were headaches, cravings, slight nausea, and a little light headedness. My body was detoxing in a major way. Staying with it took some will power. But around day 4 I started to gain some energy and things started looking better.
During the tough times I would tell myself that this was just something that I was doing for a short period of time. A few weeks. A month or two. That was a short period of time in the grand scheme of things. Somehow for me that little bit of perspective works wonders and in short whatever the challenge was would pass. I’m sure it would be different for everyone. Look for and find your own mantra for inner strength. Whatever works.
Up to the first 20 days I experienced various periods of headaches and low energy. These are all symptoms of the body detoxing years worth of gunk from the cells and organs. I would also experience periods of high where I felt like I could sprint up Mount Everest. Whichever the state just go with it. Tired? Then sleep. Energetic? Do something productive.
After the first 3 weeks or so my energy levels started to level out. But at a higher and more sustained level prior to starting the juicing. I carried on with my daily activities just as I always have. Only I was juicing on a regular basis throughout the day. Around day 30 I really started to feel a great sense of well being. My skin was soft and supple. My eyes bright and clear. People were starting to notice and ask questions.
The basic mechanics of a juice feast are actually quite easy. Drink at least 4 quarts of fresh fruit and vegetable juice a day. Preferably organic. Within those juices be sure to get at least 2 pounds of green leafy vegetables. Lettuce, Kale, Collard Greens, Parsley and the rest. This equates to 10 or more pounds of produce a day. Way more than you could ever eat. In addition to the juices, drink a couple of quarts of water per day. Herbal teas are also ok if you like them. Any vitamin supplements that you feel are necessary are also ok. Personally, I took MSM, Vitamin-C and a superfood green supplement called Boku. That’s it. Simple.
Where does the protein come from? Believe it or not it comes from all of the green leafy vegetables. Raw greens have a tremendous amount of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. In fact, since the protein in green juice is already in the amino acid state it is highly bio-available and is readily absorbed by the body. It is important to note that you should rotate your greens in order to avoid toxin build up from the natural alkaloids present in the greens. In other words don’t just use baby spinach all of the time. Maybe use spinach one week and then move on to kale for the next. Or, like me, just keep the variety going full-time.
In order to make all of this juice you’ll need a juicer. We have three. The 30+ year old work horse Champion Juicer that I previously mentioned is great for carrots and other hard veggies. Second, we have an Omega HD VRT350 juicer which is very finicky and takes a fine touch to keep it from getting clogged. The Omega can also create a pulpy juice which caused me to usually run the extracted juice back through a second time. But, it creates a delicate juice and is excellent for soft fruits and green leafy veggies. Finally, we use a Breville 800JEXL Juice Fountain. The Breville quickly became the goto juicer for its wide feed shoot, quick cleanup, and good quality juice although it can be a little on the loud side. With all of that hardware sitting on the kitchen counter I can still say that you really don’t need an armada of juicers. Just run down to Costco and pick up a $100 Jack LaLanne juicer and you’ll be fine.
It should be said that while a juice feast such as this one can go for an extended period of time it is not a lifetime diet. Rather it’s a reboot of your system. A way to reset your body, clear out the muck, and start over from scratch. We all need this from time to time.
Over the course of the 40 days I lost a stunning 25 pounds! That’s approximately 0.6 lbs per day. That’s incredibly fast weight lost. Around day 20 I had the good fortune of visiting with my brother-in-law who is an MD. He took my % body fat measurements through some device which he claimed was as accurate as a submersion measurement test (which I took was the gold standard of tests). I visited him again just after day 40 to repeat the test. Over those 20 days I dropped 4.3% body fat and most interestingly I added 3 pounds of muscle during that period of time. I attribute this to the high intake of greens which as previously discussed are the major source of protein on the juice fast.
But the results weren’t all about the weight. My general well being was improved. I was much better hydrated. My hair and skin were soft and shiny. My energy was high. And my blood pressure had lowered to 117/69 which is excellent (prior to starting my blood pressure read in at 135/91).
What would I do differently?
This being my first long term juice feast I must admit that I didn’t do everything perfectly. Firstly, I would exercise more past day 20 or so. I think that my weight loss would have been much more dramatic had I added in more light exercise such as biking or walking. I got some in just not enough. I also would be much more diligent about getting in all 4 quarts or more of juice a day. There were a number of days where I only got in three. Not because I didn’t want them but more that I had just gotten busy and forgotten about them. To help reduce this effect I think it’s important to start your day off early with a juice. This will make it easier to hit your 4 juices or more in a day. Another downside of only getting 3 juices in a day is the reduced ability to get in 2 full pounds of green leafy vegetables. You really need that 4th juice to get in all of those greens.
I would also come off of the juice feast in a more gradual manner. I did ok but I feel that I started back with more full solid food a day or two early. The recommended way to break a juice feast which has lasted over 20 days is to take 6 days and gradually add back in solids while maintaining your juice intake. The first 2 days you add about 8 oz of prunes soaked overnight in water. The second 2 days you add in soft fruits such as strawberries, mango, etc. The third two days you add in a light salad. I pretty much did this but rushed the salad part a bit I feel.
All in all juicing for a long period of time was a very positive experience for me and once rolling it was fairly easy to stay on course. I most definitely will be doing this again in the future.
“Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” This is a documentary film about two different guys who transform their health by juicing. It’s an incredibly inspiring story. I watched it numerous times during my juice feast as inspiration and to help give me a mental boost when I needed it. As of today it is available via Netflix streaming – go watch it now!
Be Your Potential The YouTube channel of Matthew Armstrong and Victoria Whitehead. This couple is currently undertaking a 100 day juice feast and recording a ~10 minute video each and every day recording their progress. There is a ton of information in the videos not to mention getting to watch their ups and downs as well as body transformations throughout the 100 days.
JuiceFeasting.com The website of David Rainoshek the originator of the term Juice Feast. Lots and lots of information on how to correctly juice feast.