My first juice fast is officially over, and the results are in! As I’m writing this I’m enjoying one of the best chocolate protein shakes and banana of my life. It’s amazing how much better food tastes even after a relatively short fast, but what’s even more amazing is how little food it now takes to make me feel full. There’s no doubt in my mind that my stomach has shrunk considerably, but you can bet I’ll have a ton of fun stretching it back out a wee bit.
If you missed the last post, I encourage to checkout the post that started it all Juice Fast Recipes and Challenge. In a nutshell, after hearing a lot about juice fasting from several members of my immediate family, I decided to suspend my immediate doubts of their sanity and try the beginner recommended 5 day juice fast. Over the course of those 5 days I planned on tracking my weight, as well as my body composition in order to provide a better picture of what amounts of the weight loss (if any) could be attributed to fat loss versus lean muscle loss.
Unbeknownst to me at the time that I started the fast, the place where I go to get my body fat tested had just purchased an extremely popular and new body fat analyzer, and was proudly taking it on a world tour of countless local gyms. The long and the short of it is that the equipment would not be available for me to measure my results on Friday the 16th, so I decided to end my fast on the evening of Wednesday the 21st, which means that I accomplished a little over 3 days of fasting. I’d probably feel like a failure if it wasn’t so unbelievably tough at times! 60 days? You are crazy Joe Cross, but my hat’s off to you.
The Good News – My starting weight was 191.6 pounds, and by the end of the fast I was already at a 2 year low of 184.3 pounds. That’s means that over the course of my first juice fast I lost roughly 7.3 pounds!
The Crappy News – Unfortunately I’m unable to report what the breakout is in terms of fat loss versus lean muscle loss, due to an erroneous body fat percentage reading on my initial test. I was dumb enough to not review the baseline data that I got when I started the challenge, and for some bizarre reason my body fat percentage was way up at 21.4% (the downside of learning new equipment I guess). The body fat analysis that I had done at the end of the challenge said that I was 12.4% body fat, which an independent source confirmed.
As much as I’d love to be able to say in my best infomercial voice that “This juice fast helped me blast my body fat and go from 21.4% to ONLY 12.4% in less than 4 days!”, as many of you know this is NOT that kind of site. Real people, real fitness, real results. Oh well, I guess if at first you don’t succeed, well you know the rest…
I think that juice fasting is an interesting concept that definitely has value in today’s overindulgent society of excess, but I will say that there are some pros and cons when it comes to the juice fasting process. Below is a brief synopsis of the pros and cons that I came up with.
- Weight loss - This fast allowed me to lost 7 pounds in a relatively short period of time. Win!
- Improved skin - Perhaps due to higher than normal consumption of vitamins. Vitamin win!
- Controlling vs. Being Controlled - I feel that my emotional response to food was significantly reduced as the fast progressed, though I’ll be the first to admit that I had several brief periods where I’d become obsessed with the thought of food. It’s amazing what you have time to think about when you’re not thinking about your next meal.
- Energy Balance – During the fast I felt more stable in terms my energy level throughout the day. I didn’t experience that intense productive caffeine-infused rushes of productivity, but on the other hand I didn’t have to deal with the slap in the face crashes either.
- Headaches - The latter half of day 1, and the majority of day 2 were filled with pretty intense headaches that made concentration difficult at times.
- Weakness - Although I planned on working out throughout the fast, my dramatic drop in physical energy caused my late afternoon muscle-building workouts to become late afternoon naps.
- Irritability? - According to my wife I became increasingly irritable and lethargic the longer that my fast continued. In my humble, but obviously incredibly biased opinion, the increased irritability probably had just as much to do with the fact that I was missing my workouts as it had to do with my rather drastic dietary change.
- Cleanup Sucks! – The majority of the juicing sites that I’ve visited referred to juice machine cleanup as a breeze, so either I’m lazier than they are, or my particular machine is not as easy to clean. This particular experience is what led me to make the fourth recommendation below, which is batching.
My 7 Juice Fast Recommendations
- Daylight savings time sucks - Do not attempt your first juice fast the same week that daylight savings time begins. This was a BIG mistake that I made, as the ‘”spring ahead” change can be difficult enough to adjust to on its own for many people, myself included.
- Fruitify - If you dislike the taste of vegetable juice as much as I do (I don’t even like Bloody Mary’s, and on more than one occasion I REALLY wish I did), then up the fruit to vegetable ratio. The typical ratio that people start out with is 60 percent fruit to 40 percent vegetable, and then the ratio can be adjusted from there based on your personal tastes. I also recommend following the advice of Joe Cross and starting out with the fruit-based juices in the morning, and then shifting toward more vegetable-based recipes as the day progresses.
- Batch - Make your juice in large batches (a few days worth), and then store the extra juice in the refrigerator. Number one, I think that the juice tastes a lot better cold anyway, and secondly it means that you don’t have to cleanup as much.
- Buy Organic- I typically prefer to buy organic versions of any fruits or vegetables that are not peeled. Even though they’re a little more expensive, quality brands will help reduce your exposure to things like unhealthy pesticides. The regulations from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture state that any product called organic must be produced without most synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Other practices that are banned in products labeled as organic are things like the use of antibiotics, growth hormones, and feed that’s made from animal parts.
- Experiment - Taste buds are as diverse and unique as fingerprints, so feel free to reduce how much of certain ingredients that you include based on your tastes. For instance I found the taste of kale to be really overpowering (in case you couldn’t tell by my first sip in the video), so I would use less kale and maybe add some spinach. Please feel free to share your favorite juice fast recipes in the comments section below.
- Ease Back In – At the end of a fast you WILL be hungry, but even after the end of my 3 1/2 day fast I could definitely tell that the amount of food that I could eat at a sitting had been greatly reduced. Slowly reintroduce sold foods into your diet. Your stomach will definitely thank you.
- Relax! - There’s a reason why I chose a photo for this post that has a guy sipping his green juice while relaxing with the paper. Be prepared to not have much energy at all, and before you even start you fast come to terms with the fact that you’re just going to have to take it easy and let your body relax and reboot. Out off all my recommendations this one is the toughest for me to follow, even though I really ought to.