The last few months, through subtle hints, my wife, Jill, decided upon an Omega Wide Mouth juicer to “augment my fitness repertoire of gadgets”. I took the opportunity after the Christmas Holiday to research some recipes and I stumbled upon the “juice cleanse”. Now, I’ve heard of fasting for all sorts of reasons but I never, ever considered it for myself…mostly because I love to eat.
That’s why I’m a triathlete I tell myself on a daily basis…and I’m only half joking. This juice cleanse seemed like a great type of fast, since I would still be taking in calories so not a true fast, just a cleanse or a detoxification from my 6-week off-season of gluttony after Ironman Arizona the week before Thanksgiving. I made it a point to enjoy my last few days of 2012 and then January 1 it would be go-time. I would shoot for a 5-7 day cleanse.
I really want to acknowledge the help of Suzanne Jacoby,
http://www.guidetobodycleansing.com/juicefasting.html She has amazing recipes on her website for juicing and reached out via Twitter (@CleansingGuide). She led me down the path to success by recommending which vegetables to use and what base products for each of the drinks. The key point she made was “the
Greener the Better”. Limit the amount of fruit juicing due to the sugar content and go for the vegetable
juicing as much as can be tolerated basis. After my trip to Sprouts on the 29th of December, and a few quick tests with the new juicer I was ready to give it a try!
Sprouts initial shopping list (majority products Organic):
2 bags of kale whole leaf
2 bags of carrots
10 medium sized beets
2 one-pound containers of baby spinach
3 bunches of celery
1 clump of fennel (had to google it)
4 sweet potatoes
5 med tomatoes
1 bunch of parsley
2 large ginger roots
15 granny smith apples
10 navel oranges
2 pints of blueberries
2 pints of blackberries
1 Bag of red grapes
4 pints of coconut water
Total approximately $80, however it was to feed me for 5-7 days so approximately $15 per day not too bad, and as you will later read it fed more than just myself. But it is by no means cheap.
How I felt:
Initially, I think my stomach storage capacity was so big from my season of gluttony, that I was always hungry. This also was exacerbated due to still having holiday snacks in/around the house. College Football and meaningful NFL games on the schedule all day long didn’t help the fast at all. My family was awesome
however! Jill really didn’t cook in the house those first few days and actually participated in my juicing to the
max extent possibly. Even my two girls and their friends loved helping dad juice and it was a great family
time together seeing what unique combinations of colors and flavors you can get from kale, beets, blueberries and carrots!
As I progressed to day 3, the hunger subsided but really became lethargic in my workouts and slight lightheadedness. I tried to continue working out but had to cut the volume down over 50% for the week to less than 8 hours of training and very light intensity. Mentally focus on the goal for the week: not to increase my fitness aerobically but cleanse myself for long-term benefits. I totally reorganized my garage and looked for ways to get my mind off of the hunger.
By day 5 I was done mentally. I struggled through the days arguing with myself. Feeling like I didn’t want to work out and just lay around on the couch but knowing I was losing hard-earned aerobic capacity and not motivated at all to do anything about it. I found little solace in the simple carbs of fruit-juice that would give me a 30-minute pick-me-up window where I could workout but then come crashing down. By the evening of Day 5, I was done. I asked Jill to make one of her amazing lentil stews and downed a bowl. After an hour of feeling great, downed a couple more bowls.
- You don’t need as much sleep when you are fasting. This was evident the very first night. Partially, not working out as much, but mostly from what I’ve read, is your metabolism practically shuts down as it’s not working on digesting food. I read through some blogs and science journals that as much as 3 less hours of sleep needed. Unfortunately, you still don’t quite feel rested and on your “A” game throughout the day.
- My girls loved eating a healthy diet of Juice! I mentioned earlier how my two girls enjoyed making the daily juices and we would make it a routine during the evening making the juice for the upcoming day. It was a blast! In fact, Anna (3rd Grade) had an incentive pass for her Elementary School saying she could bring a drink to school throughout the day leftover from the Fall Semester. Instead of bringing in the typical carton
of high-fructose corn syrup juice box most kids probably bring, Anna asked, “Dad, can we make a couple different flavors of juice for the first day of school for my drink pass?” We decided on a mixture of berries and apples for one of them and then a beet, carrot, kale, apple for the other. Delicious and I’m sure it impressed her teachers!
- Endurance Athletics and fasting don’t mix! My body just needs those complex carbs to continue on through a workout and then protein to recover from a workout. I found myself craving protein quite a bit as the day wore on. Juicing can be and will be a huge supplement to my family’s daily diet from here forward but I don’t think I could live without the protein and carbs.
- Coming off the fast, from what I’ve read, would be very hard on the digestive system. It wasn’t at all personally…I came out of the fast on the evening of Day 5 with a big bowl of lentil stew with a lot of different type of vegetables. This wasn’t much different from what I had been eating with the exception they were in solid form. Probably a very good source of nutrition immediately after a fast. After the initial first bowl, I consciously waited almost an hour to see how the body would feel. Green light, I quickly had two more bowls. No side effects whatsoever.
- After a week now of being “off the fast”, I have continued to encounter less bathroom breaks but quickly gained my energy. I’m now back to my original schedule of working out. No side effects at this point. Do I think it helped me? Short-term, not at all! Long-term, I can’t measure that, however it couldn’t have hurt that’s for sure. I do believe it “cleaned out” my system because I spent two to three days just urinating without any other bathroom breaks. This would complete the goal of detoxification. Would I do it again? We’ll see next off-season!