“You’re doing WHAT?!”
…is the reaction you should get used to if you’re considering your first juice cleanse.
Most people think of juicing as extreme (which, to some extent, it is) and unhealthy (which it isn’t).
Sure, done wrong, juicing can feed a self-destructive cycle of repeated failure.
Done right, juicing is a powerful tool in your arsenal that can be brought out at any time with significant and powerful results. Done right, juicing is physically and (more importantly) psychologically transformative. Done right, it’s more than just a diet. Juicing tells you a lot about who you are as a person. Done right, a few weeks of juicing can undo years of reinforced bad habits and set you on the path to a healthy and sustainable life.
But, let’s start from the beginning.
What Is a Juice Cleanse?
Well, as the name suggests, a juice cleanse is a diet that eschews solid foods in favour of juice derived from solely fruits and vegetables. Now, we’re not talking store-bought OJ here. That stuff’s full of added sugar and is usually made from concentrate, meaning it’s far from fresh.
We’re talking about pressed juice made from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. It’s important that your juice is fresh as many of the macronutrients that your body relies on begin to deteriorate immediately after the juice is exposed to the air.
Juice cleanses often see rapid and drastic weight loss, improved skin tone and increased energy levels. But, they can also make you grouchy, prone to mood swings and are notoriously difficult to stick to.
Sounds hard? Well, it is… But that’s the point.
Juicing for a prolonged period of time is one of, if not the most difficult diet plans, at least that we’ve ever tried. But it also provides something that few other diets do. Try to think of juicing less in terms of weight loss and more in terms of conditioning (or strengthening) your mind. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times. The key to a successful diet…
Sure, juicing is hard. But a successful juice cleanse provides immeasurable reward in terms of the self-control you will have gained. Once you master self-control, weight loss is all but guaranteed.
But, juicing isn’t for everyone. So how can you tell if it’s for you?
For a start, we wouldn’t recommend a juice cleanse to anyone who’s pregnant, over 65, under 18 or has any health problems. For these groups, a low-calorie diet is a better option for slow but steady weight loss.
For the average, healthy person who’s looking to shed a few pounds, juicing may be a great option. A good place to start is figuring out the length of your cleanse. We usually recommend 10 days, though the emotional and psychological benefits of juicing can be felt in as little as 3-5 days.
So, whether you choose 3 days or 3 weeks, here’s what to expect on your first juice cleanse.
Your first day of juicing should be a walk in the park. Your body’s still running on the fuel you gave it the day before, but as the day wears on, don’t be alarmed if you start to feel a little under the weather.
By day 2, well, there’s no way around this… You’re gonna be feeling like sh*t. Most people experience headaches, some get aches, pains and even nausea.
Let’s have a look at what’s going on here. Your body is accustomed (perhaps even addicted) to the processed foods you’ve been putting in it for years. For me, that involved plenty of sugar, caffeine and refined carbs. While they may not seem it, those are some pretty potent chemicals and your body won’t give them up without a fight.
Whether you juice for a week or a month, these first few days are the toughest of the entire cleanse.
Remember, the key to successful dieting is self-control. But, self-control has to be earned. This pain is your payment for earning self-control. So pop a couple Tylenol, take it easy and carry on.
On a lighter note, it doesn’t take long before you see results on a juice diet, though this depends on how much weight you have to lose in the first place. A lot of this will be water weight, so remember to stay hydrated as this will help with the headaches.
During the first 5 days of a juice cleanse, you’ll probably find yourself thinking about food a lot more than you usually would. You may also find yourself craving sugar, as this is the most addictive of all the food groups that you’re giving up. Expect to feel lethargic, irritable and physically cold for at least 3 days.
Don’t worry, all of the above will pass very soon.
Around day 5 you should start to feel significantly more alive! This is a common feature of many diets- similar to the keto flu for those on a keto diet. However, where most diets reveal their fruits slowly and gently, there have been occasions in my juicing career where the ‘flu’ symptoms have left me almost immediately, followed by the most fantastic feeling of alert energy.
Once you hit this point, it’s safe to say your body has adapted to the new diet and is burning the macronutrients found in the juice as its primary source of fuel (along with burning fat).
Now is the time to re-introduce some light exercise into your routine. Just be careful not to overdo it as you’ll likely still be a little under-hydrated.
Expect your weight loss to continue at impressive levels, though not as drastic as the first 5 days. Despite what the scales say, this is a good thing. You’ve now moved from losing mainly water to losing fat.
Remarkably, your sugar cravings should almost completely subside by the end of a 10-day cleanse. Don’t worry if you still feel cravings for starchy foods like potatoes and pastas. That’s normal and to be expected.
This period of a juice diet is where the real magic happens. Not many people make it this far, but those who do gain some serious mental strength and self-control.
Seriously, well done.
Around now, you’ll be feeling significantly healthier and it’ll be easy for others to notice your weight loss. You’re in your element, and while you may encounter the occasional tough day, by now you’re experienced enough to know how to deal with it.
By day 15, momentum is well and truly on your side and you’re in your diet is hitting its stride. Nothing can stop you now.
Weight loss during this period can vary from person to person. For me, days 10-15 were the most valuable of my entire month of juicing. My weight dropped significantly in this period and all cravings disappeared. Finally, I had gained self-control. The question was, how far could I take it?
Now, while it’s possible to juice for months on end, we wouldn’t actually recommend it. As we’ve mentioned, juicing is extremely effective, particularly for the mind. But passing 2-3 weeks on a juice diet can be exhausting, especially if your routine includes exercise.
For those with the weight to lose, expect to experience some lethargy during this period. By now, you won’t have to worry about impulsively giving in to your cravings, so make sure you listen to what your body is telling you.
After all, there’s a big difference between acting on every little impulse (I want chocolate!) and giving your body the fuel it needs (you know what, an avocado sounds really good right about now).
You may need to adapt your cleanse based on what your body is telling you. For example, protein cravings hit last and are hard to shake. There’s a reason for this. Your body needs protein. Too long without it can be detrimental to your overall health, so don’t be afraid to add a little protein powder to your juice.
Remember- stay flexible.
Around now, you may also notice that your weight beings to plateau, or that losing the pounds is becoming harder and harder. That’s totally normal. A great tip here is to make sure you’re getting enough calories. Too few calories can actually harm your weight loss efforts, so try to drink at least 3-4 juices per day, as well as varying the type of juice. Don’t just drink the same juice three times per day. (Trust me, I learned this the hard way!)
So, from here, the sky is the limit. As an absolute limit, we’d really encourage you not to juice for over 2 months. More realistically, 10-15 days is optimal. You can always come back for another 10-15 days after varying up your diet. (This is actually a great weight loss technique in itself.)
As we explored in out blog post “Why 99% of diets fail,” emotional fatigue is a huge concern to the prospective juicer.
So, here are 7 things you can do to ensure your juice cleanse is successful.
- Prepare- It’s almost a given that at some point in your juice cleanse, you’re going to be feeling like crap. But don’t let that beat you. Be aware of it and prepare. Grab some painkillers and keep busy- but don’t do anything too strenuous.
- Hydrate- If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to send you running to the vending machine, it’s a lack of hydration. Juicing is harsh on your body, especially at the beginning, so get a jump on the process? Make sure you carry a bottle of water with you at all times (check out this awesome Collapsible Water Bottle!) and drink plenty of herbal tea throughout the day.
- Visualize Success- This is a term that’s often overused and misunderstood. So, what does it mean in this context. Well, many of us who have been fighting weight issues for a number of years forget what it feels like to be a healthy weight. To have energy, to feel flexible and confident within your own skin. Before you begin juicing, try to visualize the version of yourself that you’re aiming for. If you have a picture, stick it somewhere prominent that you’ll see every day.
- Get Specific With Your Motivation- Why are you doing this? Not juicing, why are you trying to lose weight or get healthy in the first place? Try to boil this down to boil this down to a root cause by asking yourself ‘why’ until you no longer can. For example, it’s not enough to know you want to lose weight or look good naked. What you’re looking for is an answer like ‘I want my kids to be proud of me,’ or ‘I want to feel proud of myself when I look in the mirror’. Those are true and solid emotions. Write the answer to this question down and refer back to it when things get hard (which they will). If you find that your answer isn’t enough to stop you from quitting, you haven’t identified the real reason why you want to do this yet.
- Don’t Starve Yourself- I know it sounds counterintuitive, but you should never be hungry on a juice diet… despite the fact that you’re not actually eating anything. After all, you are taking on calories and getting nourishment. So, it’s crucial to remember (even if your weight loss temporarily stalls) that there’s no such thing as too much juice. Keeping your intake of nutrients steady leads to a steady and controlled mind.
- Identify Your Triggers- These may be physical or emotional and will be individual to you. Be really honest with yourself about the things that make you consider quitting a diet. Do this before you start you juice cleanse and make sure you take steps to avoid coming into contact with these triggers. For example, my triggers are both physical and emotional. I am constantly tempted by my favourite food (pizza) and don’t react well to a lack of sleep, which causes me to act impulsively. So, when juicing, I make an effort to avoid the pizza place close by my apartment, as well as sticking to a strict bedtime. Remember, juicing isn’t meant to be permanent. It’s a chance for you to increase your mental strength, but give yourself the best chance of success by avoiding known pitfalls.
- Get a Little Help From Your Friends… (at The Skinny Bee)- As you can probably tell by now, we have a fair amount of experience with juicing. In fact, it’s one of the reasons we exist. Our products are designed to make it easier for you to stick to your diet. So, whether it’s collapsible water bottles or re-useable straws, you can rest assured that The Skinny Bee has you covered.
So, there you have it. Tough, but immensely rewarding for those strong enough to break through the pain threshold.
(Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re not enough. If I can do this, anyone can. Including and especially you.)
Have you tried a juice cleanse? We’d love to know how it went (seriously!). Connect with us on social media and share your experiences :)