Lessons Learned From My 1-Month Juice Fast

Juice Fast Weight LossYou might remember that I did a 1 month juice fast back in February of 2012. It ended up being one of my most popular experiments, and also one of my least favorite.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about it, and thought it was time I finally answered them.

Some of the answers might surprise you.

Why the hell did I do it?

This is the most common question I get from people who know me really well, and I suspect I did a juice fast for a really different reason than most people.

The idea of me doing a juice fast is crazy because I love food (and eat more) than just about anyone I know. I’ve been an athlete my whole life, and have always had an extremely fast metabolism. After a hard day of climbing, it’s not unheard of for me to wolf down two super burritos while my friends struggle to finish one.

“Second dinner” is a real thing in my house.

And in a way, my love of food is why I decided to do the juice fast: I thought it would be really really hard for me to do.

I had this idea that willpower was like a muscle, and I was frustrated that mine wasn’t stronger at times. I wanted to change that, and I figured if I could give up food for a month, any other challenge would seem tiny.

And I’d say it worked. After the experiment ended, I noticed I was much less likely to give up or procrastinate when I had to do difficult things.

I still remember the feeling of hunger that I had on Day 3, and I think about it whenever I need some extra willpower.

Is juice fasting healthy?

I’m not a nutritionist or a doctor, and you should talk to yours before doing a juice fast. I have no idea if juice fasting is healthy or not.

For me, I don’t think juice fasting is healthy overall. Sure, I ate drank a lot of vitamins and nutrients from fresh fruits and veggies, but there were a whole lot of drawbacks that I didn’t like…

1. Balance

Balance is one of the biggest keys to happiness and health. For me, juice fasting is just way too extreme.

I wrote about how I couldn’t keep up my normal workouts while I was on the juice fast. I’d get lightheaded and tired in the middle of my afternoon run. When your diet actually prevents you from exercising, it’s time to really question what you’re doing.

I’d say my normal diet is much healthier than my juice fast diet. I eat a ton of veggies, a lot of protein, no meat (except fish), plenty of fruit, healthy fats, and I try to keep the processed foods and simple carbs to a reasonable level.

And guess what? It’s really easy to stick to that diet because I love everything I eat. It’s balanced, and I never feel restricted (which is my least favorite feeling). If I want pizza or chocolate (which I usually do), I go for it. Why not? My cholesterol is really low, I’m fit, and I never get lightheaded during a hard run or workout.

2. Sugar & Acid

I’d rather have teeth than diabetes… and the amount of sugar in most juices is pretty alarming. Yes, it’s sugar from fruit and not candy, but your body treats it pretty much the same way. I hated the slimy feeling on my teeth after drinking juice, and the sugar-low that followed after certain recipes. Oh, and the amount of acid in some of those juice recipes isn’t great for your enamel. No thanks.

3. Boring

I’ve never been an amazing cook, but I’ve been having a lot of fun with it lately. I love the slight chaos of having a couple of different pans going at once, the smell of mushrooms or kale sautéing, spices, something hearty baking in the oven. I love experimenting (duh) and making up recipes as I go. I dare say, I’m starting to get good better at it, too, and that makes cooking even more rewarding.

And by comparison… making juice just isn’t as fun. Wash fruits and veggies, chop to size, stuff in juicer. Hmm… Sure, that’s efficient, but it’s also boring. I believe food should be enjoyed, and I’m having a lot more fun now than I did on my juice fast.

Is juice fasting a good way to lose weight?

I’d say… no way!

Yes, I did lose weight on my juice fast, and most people will lose weight on a juice fast, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good way to lose weight. I’d probably lose about 40 pounds if I got my leg amputated, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good way to lose weight.

Juice fasting isn’t a sustainable lifestyle, and it’s not something that would make a long-term healthy habit. It’s extreme and short-term. If your goal is to lose some weight, you’d probably be better off focusing on creating better habits than on any short-term crash diet.

How many really healthy people do you know who diet all the time? I know zero.

Changing your habits and behaviors can be hard at first, but once you do, it’s easy to stick to. And I believe habits are the key to lasting change.

Would I do it again?

Nope.

Is it hard?

Yep.

Do you still juice?

I do still make juice sometimes, but not very often. I never use juice as a meal replacement anymore, but I do like a good kale-carrot-ginger-apple juice on a hot day.

Have any other juicing questions? Leave a comment.

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Comments

  1. You mention “boring” but I see this actually as a bonus. When you’re “deprived” of something, you learn to appreciate it more. Say those words slowly with me: Learn To Appreciate. If something (anything!) gets me to learn to appreciate something in my life more, it’s worth it.

    So after a few weeks of juice fasting, how much do you love that Chipotle Burrito Bowl? Sure, you loved it before, but now you’re infatuated with it. Now your heartbeat is racing as you get to the door, you’re licking your lips like a dog while in line and you’ll savor every last pinto bean and smile like a kid when you’re done.

    If it takes a few kale cocktails to remind me what I appreciate, I’ll take it.

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