Lent Days 34-36: The 3-Day Juice Cleanse
I survived the 3-day juice cleanse and learned so much! This was a completely new experience for me so below is my newbie guide to a 3-day juice cleanse.
The 3-day juice cleanse I followed was developed by Joe Cross, an Australian businessman. He started his career as the Australian equivalent of a Wall Street trader and became very wealthy. He now is a sort of venture capitalist and entrepreneur. Though he was (and is) very wealthy, by age 41 he had gained considerable weight and was experiencing health problems with some sort of autoimmune rash. He came to the United States to be supervised by a medical doctor on a 60-day juice fast where he had nothing but fruit and vegetable juices for 60 days. He also traveled across the United States talking to Americans about juicing. All of this is in his 2010 documentary, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” which you can watch for free online. In addition to his other ventures, Joe Cross now sells a juicer with his name on it and promotes juice fasting as a weight loss/weight maintenance technique.
Gwyneth Paltrow recommended several juice cleanses you can purchase and each of them costs about $180 for a 3-day cleanse. I found this price point curious as it was almost exactly the cost in groceries I paid for the ingredients for her winter cleanse. Since I already had a juicer, I thought I would just try to do it myself with the Joe Cross juice cleanse on Dr. Oz’ website.
You are going to be astounded at the amount of fruit and vegetables you will need to purchase to perform a juice cleanse. I had to fill an entire grocery cart with kale, swiss chard, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and other produce. I don’t recall ever purchasing that much produce on a single shopping trip. There was so much produce that much of it would not fit in the fridge. So, the apples, peppers, oranges and tomatoes stayed out on the counter. Also, note that when you juice, you are consuming so much produce at one time that experts highly recommend you splurge on the organic produce to reduce your pesticide exposure.
Also, just as I was on the second juice of the first day of the cleanse, my juicer began smoking and died. Perhaps it was insulted that I called it a “Grade D juicer” in my last blog post. After making do with a blender and strainer (which took forever), I decided it was time for an emergency juicer purchase. I knew that I needed a juicer that would be capable of juicing green leaves like kale. This is a tough task for most juicers. I learned that a “macerating juicer” is best for juicing leafy greens.
Macerating juicers aren’t cheap and I wasn’t sure where I would be able to purchase such a thing here in Fredericksburg. Some Googling taught me that our local Bed, Bath & Beyond store had some in stock. So, with 20% off coupon in hand (and some “free money” on a Visa gift card donated by my husband), I bought a great juicer!
I would highly recommend investing in a great juicer if you are even thinking about doing a juice cleanse. It makes such a difference! So far, I am thrilled with this Omega juicer. It juices everything and is easy to clean after each use. You can also use it to make noodles, nut butters and even grind coffee beans.
If you just can’t afford a nice juicer I saw that many people make do with the $30 juicers you can buy at Wal-Mart and other places but they end up rejuicing the pulp several times to get all the juice out of their ingredients.
In the end, I spent way more on this juice cleanse than I was expecting. I have quite a bit of leftover produce though that we will eat and I now have a juicer and can make my own juice whenever I want. Note, however, that if you think you would only ever use your juicer for a 3-day cleanse once per year you are probably better off just buying a pre-made cleanse. It would take at least 3 years of once per year 3-day juice fasting to just break even on the juicer and ingredients. Plus you don’t have to do all the work either!
Day One – I began the day somewhat enthusiastically. I wasn’t worried about the first juice: Carrot Apple Ginger because I like carrot juice and apple juice. It was delicious and wonderful. I was a little more nervous about the Mean Green juice but because I had survived Gwyneth’s version a few days before I was OK with this one too. Note that except for the Carrot Apple Ginger juice, each juice makes a huge amount. While I have shown only one glass in the photo, each recipe makes essentially two big glasses of each juice. The first day, this is a bit overwhelming.
At this point, my old juicer started smoking and refused to turn on again. After returning from a shopping trip to buy a new juicer, I made the gazpacho juice. “Eww!” was my first reaction. Brown juices are hard to drink and I put too much onion in my first version. After drinking this juice, my stomach was making gurgling noises. I began to feel a bit queasy but never got actually sick. I decided to only drink half of this juice and save the other half for tomorrow. I considered quitting the juicing at this point and just fasting instead. There are fates worse than not being able to eat anything.
After a few hours, I was feeling relatively fine again and made the Citrus Inspired Green Juice. I had a hard time drinking it because I just kept thinking about the swiss chard in it. But I quickly gulped it all down. Afterward, the queasy feeling began again. It wasn’t like food poisoning or having a stomach bug, it’s more like a lot of gurgling and bubbling. You can tell something is going on in your stomach. To avoid being sick, I decided that was enough juice for the day and skipped the last juice. I felt like it was going to be a long three days.
“Why am I doing this?” I wondered.
So, the first point I think needs to be emphasized about juice cleanses is:
This is not to scare you off from doing a juice cleanse but so that you go in prepared. Juice cleanses that you purchase can be big money and it would be a shame to pay $180 for something that you don’t actually use. Most juice cleanses you can purchase have to be used within 3 days so you can’t save them and spread them out over time.
Feeling a little nauseous at first is apparently normal and expected, even among vegetable enthusiasts. Some people describe this as the body “detoxifying.” In the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead Joe Cross made about his own juice cleanse, one of the juice cleanse participants indicates that it took him about 3 days just to get over the nauseous feeling. Some people apparently react strongly to this nauseous phase and decide to quit. If you happen to take 3 days to stop feeling nauseous, then Joe recommends you continue the juice fast for a total of 7-10 days so that you get a chance to experience the positive effects of juice fasting as well. For your first day on the fast, just try to drink as much as you can.
I think it helped that before I did this juice cleanse I had at least tried some kale-based drinks and had been eating lots of vegetables. The handbook for my juicer indicated that when it comes to certain ingredients (it was referring to wheatgrass specifically) they can cause nausea until people adjust to the enzymes they contain. So, just a fair warning.
Day One juices consumed: 3 1/2 out of 5
Day Two – Day Two went much better. I looked forward to my morning carrot apple ginger juice. I was starting to feel hungrier as well. The Mean Green juice went down much better on day two. While I was ready to give up on the Gazpacho juice, I didn’t want to waste the juice I had already made in the fridge so I drank the other half of yesterday’s juice. By late afternoon, I was hungry again and had the Citrus Greens juice. I noticed in the instructions that I was supposed to serve it over ice. The coldness of the ice really makes it more palatable and I even found myself enjoying it! A few hours later, I was hungry again and had the Sunset juice. I am so glad I finally made it to that juice. It was terrific and a great way to end the day. I had no stomach gurgling or nausea on day two. At the end of the day, rather than feeling tired and hungry, I did feel the energy boost people talk about on juice cleanses. I felt like I could exercise even (but I didn’t because things had been so busy preparing all these juices).
Day Two juices consumed: 4 1/2 out of 5
Day Three – Day Three was another winner day. I had no nausea, great energy and enjoyed all of the juices (except for the gazpacho which is growing on me but I still don’t quite like). I began to realize how much more water and fluids I should be drinking. I was starting to get hungry by this day, though. I thought that the day would end perfectly if I could just have something like a piece of fish or chicken on a salad. However, I stuck to just the juices. I could have made one of the only fruit or vegetable recipes but I needed a break from cooking.
Day Three juices consumed: 5 out of 5!
While the first day was tough, the second and third days were wonderful. I think I would do a juice cleanse again. I am also more encouraged to use juicing on a regular basis to get more greens into my diet. Having a juicer is a great way to use up fading produce in your fridge so the juicer in the long-term may pay for itself. I like Joe Cross’ anti-perfectionist attitude, particularly his reaction of “Good on ya!” to anybody who attempts a juice cleanse, whether they finish it or not. His film indicates that he now juice fasts for a short time every 90 days or so just to maintain his weight loss but is now back to normal eating as well.
You might also be wondering how many calories are in a juice cleanse. While it may seem like you are just drinking flavored water, there can be a lot of calories in juices. Below is my estimate showing that the Joe Cross juice cleanse is roughly 1700 calories per day. It makes sense why you could keep this up for 60 days and not end up in the hospital.
And since I’m sure everyone is wondering, I ended up losing almost 2 pounds after the fast but experts will tell you that weight loss is not the primary goal. It’s about resetting your body to a healthier state and setting you up for success in eating healthier food.
Medical Science on Juice Cleansing
I can’t find any medical evidence supporting juice cleanses. Most doctors seem to think they are ridiculous and a weight loss gimmick although juicing generally is a great way to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet. I think you have to try one for yourself and see. Personally, I don’t see myself doing one for much longer than 3 days. If I had a lot of weight to lose like Joe Cross or the other people mentioned in his film, after 3 days I would probably add in a lean protein salad-based meal for dinner each day. Everyone who juiced for extended periods of time was supervised by medical doctors who drew blood regularly to monitor the health of the participants.
Impact on Children
The juicer is a really cool machine. We all like to watch it go. It was fun to learn that my children love the act of juicing. Of course, they didn’t want to taste any of the juices but they loved to help me make the juices. All I had to do was call out, “I’m going to turn the juicer on now. Does anyone want to help?” and they would all come running to the kitchen. They were really getting into learning the names of each kind of produce. I can’t help but think that the act of touching the vegetables will ultimately help them learn to like vegetables eventually.
My 5-year-old also suggested that we make watermelon juice. We had some watermelon in the fridge so we juiced it up. She drank some of it and said it was good. We poured the leftover juice into plastic cups and froze them to make a kind of watermelon popsicle. She really liked those too.
Other Nutritional News of Note
- Kudos to Rachel Frederickson for gaining 20 pounds from her scary thin Biggest Loser win to be at a healthy 125! She looks great! Here’s hoping she has great success maintaining her weight loss this year.
- Yale University Thinks I Have an Eating Disorder – This was a very unusual story. Usually we hear all about the “Freshman 15” wherein freshman college students gain 15 pounds due to stress, greater freedom and wider access to food at the college dining hall. In this case, 20-year-old Yale Student Frances Chan was cited by her college for being too thin. She is 5’2” and weighs just 90 pounds. (According to BMI charts, she would need to weigh at least 101 to be on the thinnest side of “normal.”) Due to her low weight, she had to be weighed in weekly, have blood and heart tests and attend mental health counseling. After eating 6-8 scoops of ice cream daily and eating Cheetos before bedtime, she managed to gain 2 pounds but this wasn’t enough to satisfy college officials.
There is no official response from Yale (who probably cannot comment on this story because of the stringency of privacy in medical records) but based on the Yale doctor comments in this past news story it sounds like their process is the following: 1) identify students who are below BMI weight guidelines 2) medically test them for various metabolic disorders (or maybe drugs like Adderall) that might explain the condition 3) if no explanation is found, refer them to mental health counseling. Even though everyone in Chan’s family is skinny, the article suggests that Yale doctors would be more likely to believe that anorexia is a mental disorder with a genetic component that runs in families (and more commonly in the wealthy families that attend Yale) rather than that some families are just naturally skinny for no reason. I don’t know what to think about this story. In my own family, we have some skinny folks but to the best of my knowledge, we have all been within the BMI ranges at each age and the skinniness is most prevalent in the younger years and declines with age. It would certainly be interesting to learn more about the genetically thin.
- The Dieting Supremacist. Hate Her. – This was a tongue-in-cheek (I hope) editorial in The New York Times Style section about the resentment and pressure dieting can bring. The author discusses “my new life as a Diet Supremacist, sneering with disgust at people who are scarfing huge portions of calorie-rich food.” It seems that her coping mechanism to keep her on her diet is to brand everyone else as “unhealthy.” She also feels compelled to claim she is always on her diet when she really cheats sometimes just like everyone else. I have met some people like this, who claim they eat an extremely healthy diet but really don’t. I am not sure what causes this strange perception of one’s own life.
- Trying to lose weight? Willpower is more than saying ‘I won’t’ – This was an interesting article about having a healthy mindset toward weight loss. The author claims there should be less emphasis on “I won’t” and more emphasis on “I will” and “I want.”
Hope your week is going well!