Not so long ago I was perusing Netflix and came across an interesting title – “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”. I love documentaries relating to food and nutrition so I was intrigued and watched it with an open mind. The documentary was about juice fasting for weight loss and overall health, and it was the first I had heard of it.
What is Juicing and Juice Fasting?
In case you also haven’t heard about the juice fasting craze, juicing is when you take fruit and vegetables and run them through a machine called a juicer. The machine extracts the juice from the fruit, leaving behind the pulp.
Proponents of juicing claim the juice is more effective in getting the vital nutrients of the fruit and vegetable into your system by absorption directly through the walls of the stomach and intestines, without the fiber to slow it down. They also claim juicing rids your body of toxins, fights cancer, helps you to lose weight, and improves your immunity.
Juice fasting is when you go for a period of time ingesting nothing but juice. Some go a day, some a week, some even longer. The subject of the movie went 60 days with nothing but fruit and vegetable juice.
While I was watching this movie and listening to the claims of autoimmune disorders disappearing, weight falling off, and improved blood panels, I kept thinking “Well yeah, he was eating crap before, and now he’s actually getting vitamins!” Of course his health would improve after going from a pizza and beer diet to fruit juice, right?
But I had to learn more and find out for myself, so I went to the store and spent a good chunk of change on a good juicer. I set out on my very first juice fast. My goal was to make it 2 weeks on nothing but juice.
Unlike the subjects in this movie and many who do the juice fasts, I began my fast as a healthy eater who already knew about the benefits of fruits and vegetables and how much our body needs them. But what if juicing was like taking a mega-vitamin, and I was missing out on something amazing? After my juice fasting experiment, here are my thoughts:
Juicing is certainly an easy way to consume raw fruits and vegetables in large quantities. I would have a piece of fruit and two veggies for breakfast, three veggies for lunch and three veggies for dinner.
I was consuming large amounts of kale, spinach, beet and green juice; more than I would be able to sit and eat in a meal. I did feel a little “buzz” of energy right after my juices.
I also lost six pounds in a matter of two weeks (although I know from education and experience this was not all fat but water and muscle weight lost). Certain juices were really tasty, particularly the fruit juices. And they were all really pretty!
I did not have the energy that others claimed to have on the juice fast. I was miserable. I wanted to eat real food so much that I wanted to cry while sitting at dinner with my family.
With close to zero protein for two weeks, I watched my hard earned muscle begin to whittle away, even while keeping up my workouts (which I had almost no energy for). Cleaning up the juicer three times a day was a huge chore, and throwing away massive amounts of pulp just felt so wrong. Bathroom trips were frequent and…interesting.
In my opinion, I did not receive any benefits from juicing or juice fasting that I don’t already get from a balanced and nutritious diet. I could see having a juice every so often along with a meal, but it seems like such a waste to lose the fiber from the food and just creates more of a high-calorie vitamin.
Essentially, even fresh juice is a processed food that takes something whole and natural and strips away part of its nutritional properties. I’d rather just eat the food in its original form, feel full, and reap all of the benefits.
Some people may need extreme measures to be able to make the mental switch from unhealthy food to healthy, and I could see how juicing might make the transition easier by introducing the tastes, and detoxing from the processed food for a period.
But I just can’t get behind any diet that is completely void of protein as it is such an essential building block of every aspect of the functioning of our bodies, so I would never recommend an outright juice fast for more than a day or so.
Rather than juice, I use my blender to mix up my veggies and fruit and still have the fiber in a delicious smoothie. Add a protein supplement and you have a complete healthy meal.
As for my juicer, it is now a $300 kitchen ornament.