The juice cleanse has gained popularity in recent years, with many people partaking in regular juice fasts throughout the year. I often have clients ask me, what are my thoughts on a juice fast? My answer is always the same “I have never actually tried one and as a person who eats like a grazing cow, I don’t really wish to” but with any great researcher and with claims of clearer skin, increased energy and a general feeling of wellness having all been reported. I decided to do some research, bite the bullet or drink the juice in this case and try one for myself.
These are my findings and experience.
The idea of fasting
Recent studies by Dr Mark Mattson have shown benefits for intermittent fasting with results of reduced inflammation, improved cognitive function, increased stress resistance and reduced blood pressure. Intermittent fasting has also shown high efficacy for weight loss, improvements in insulin resistance and reduced risk of cardio vascular disease by enhancing mitochondrial health, DNA repair and autography (1).
Arguably humans have evolved in environments where food was often scarce, as a result we have developed a few adaptations that enable us to function at high levels when in a state of food deprivation (1).
So is a juice fast really the best thing for you?
When we remove the juice from a fruit we leave behind the pulp and fibre, this fibre is what helps the body release sugars slowly into the body, by removing this fibre all of the vitamins and minerals are absorbed quicker, however so are the sugars (2). The sugar recommendation given by the world health organisation sits at no more than six teaspoons of sugar per day, (for those playing at home a can of coke has nine) (3).
But juice fasts help to remove toxins
Although juicing can aid in the removal of toxins from the body, toxins are being removed on a daily basis via the liver and kidneys anyway. The liver acts as the bodies natural cleanser, it removes toxins in two phases, phase one coverts toxic chemicals into less harmful chemicals while phase two makes these toxins water soluble so they can be excreted by the kidneys via the urine (4) .
Consuming extra waters, juices and bone broths will help the kidneys along in this stage by making us urinate more often and therefore excreting these now water soluble toxins.
What I actually ingested
I consumed about 3.5 litres of juice all up over the three days, about half a litre of bone broth, lots and lots of water and lots of herbal tea. I took one table spoon of psyllium husk each day with water for my fibre and a probiotic.
This is my diary.
Day 1 - Saturday
Feeling - I woke feeling very excited and my usual hungry.
I started with a bone broth and some juice.
Hunger status - Low grade hunger all day, but nothing too bad, this surprised me, I thought I would be wanting to quite by now.
Constitution - I went to bed at 11pm - feeling good.
Other - I did notice I was a lot more gassy than usual.
Day two - Sunday
Feeling - Woke at 6 am super refreshed. Very unusual for me I am not usually a morning person.
Felt great all day.
Hunger status - Low grade hunger all day, I spent all day just sipping juice’s. Still impressed that I haven't either broken down in an emotional state or planned the feast that I am going to have in two days time. Normally my life revolves around food and what my next meal will be.
Constitution - I decided to go for a sauna at my local gym, terrible idea. I went in for my usual 15 - 20 minutes, I came out feeling very dizzy and had aches in my legs. I drank a lot of water when I came home.
I went to bed at 11pm.
Day three - Monday
Feeling - Woke at 7am to my alarm, I was feeling less groggy than I would usually on rise but still a bit sleepy.
Lunch time was a struggle, felt a bit of brain fog and achy muscles in my legs.
Once I had my juice and a kombucha, I felt better.
Huger status - Same as day one and two, I was thinking about food a bit more today. Although still very surprised that I have gone this long without a chewable meal.
Breaking the fast
Although today was the day I was technically allowed to break my fast, it is very important that you ease your body back into eating, after all you haven't put any solid foods into your digestive track in 72 hours. Red meats are harder for the body to break down and digest so I would wait at least a few more days after the break fast day before adding these back in.
The following is the order in which I added foods back in.
Day four - Tuesday
Feeling - Woke at 4.30am, by my body clock. I meditated for a while and got up at 6am.
Huger status - Food day!! Although today was food day, I felt I could have actually gone longer without solids, however I was very excited to chew again, who knew that mastication could be so enjoyable.
What I ate
I had green vegetables for breakfast, all steamed so they would be easier on my digestion. I ate until I was no longer hungry, not until I was full and I ate slowly.
For lunch I had root vegetables stir fried.
Dinner was a bowl of mixed vegetables.
Day five - Wednesday
On this day I added back in some activated nuts (nuts soaked in water for at least two hours) and salmon along with my vegetables.
Day six - Thursday
Today I had some legumes in the form of a dhal with lentils, lots of vegetables and still snacked on activated nuts with mixed vegetables.
Day Seven - Friday
I had left overs from the day before so ate the same as Thursday.
Day Eight Saturday
Day eight I added in eggs.
Day nine Sunday
Day nine I added in dairy and that was the official end of my juice cleanse!
What I learnt
For me I was surprised at how easy it was, I didn’t feel tired or super hungry, I didn’t have any mood swings. I did find that my skin and eyes were glowing (I also refrained from wearing any make up over the week) I also had a bit more energy than usual.
I made sure that my juices were predominantly vegetable based, with lots of beetroot, carrots, celery, kale, lemon juice and spinach, I added some apples and oranges for taste. I also discovered my juice making skills are terrible. Going into it again I would look at better recipes.
Would I do it again
I don’t feel it was a life changing experience for me, but I would do it again for the glowing skin and my digestion did feel great.
Who should consider a cleanse - Anyone who is in a healthy state and wants to give their digestive tract a break, or is testing out an elimination diet (if you are wanting to go on an elimination diet, this should always been done with the support of a qualified practitioner)
Who should not - Anyone who is either pregnant, suffering an eating disorder.
Disclaimer - I do not recommend a juice cleanse for an extended period of time, or as a means to loose weight. If you are wishing to try out a juice cleanse and unsure of anything, seek out a qualified nutritionist, naturopath or dietician in your local area. This blog is about me and my experiences, each person may have a different reaction.
1 - Mattson, MP, Longo, VD, & Harvie, M 2017, 'Impact of intermittent fasting on health and disease processes', Ageing Research Reviews, vol. 39, pp. 46-58
2 -'Orange You Glad You Skipped That Juice Cleanse?', 2016, UWIRE Text, 2016,
3 - ‘Spring juice cleanse', 2016, UWIRE Text