Juice fasting is an often misunderstood practice and can be very detrimental if not approached correctly. Promises such as "lose 5 pounds in 5 days!" and "get glowing skin!" are often bandied around detox and fasting programs, leading you to jump too quickly into a fast without prior preparation, sufficient knowledge and managed expectations to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable and beneficial fasting experience.
While the promises above are certainly achievable through fasting, I don’t encourage any regime which blindly promises physical results without real education and guidance on the fasting process.
When used intelligently and carefully, juice fasting can be a beautiful, nourishing tool to improve your health, clarity and sense of connection to self and your spiritual life. It can allow you to go deeper into cleansing your body, breaking down acidic waste matter and rejuvenating your body at a cellular level, which is then reflected in the health and vitality of all of you.
Before you try juice fasting, you need to understand how it works and when to use it.
What is juice fasting?
It is a certain period of time when all you typically consume only liquids, specifically water, herbal teas, fresh fruit and vegetable juices and strained vegetable broth.
Just as important is what you are not consuming when fasting -- any liquids which will tax the body such as coffee, caffeinated teas, milk, soda, pasteurized juice, protein powder mixes, diet drinks and so on. Solid or blended foods are also not consumed as the fiber content activates digestion which is avoided during fasting.
Why juice and what types of juice?
When you juice your fruits and vegetables, you remove the fiber and drink only the liquid which contains the organic hydration, nutrients, vitamins and enzymes from the plant food. Although you do need fiber in your diet, going for a certain period of time without it will give your body a chance to spend less energy on digestion.
Around 70% of your energy every day is spent on digestion alone, so when you are eating 3 meals a day plus snacks, you are rarely giving your body a chance to direct energy to deeply cleansing the body and drawing up old acidic waste that is likely causing a whole host of symptoms.
If you suffer from headaches, constipation, diarrhea, skin troubles, fatigue, irritability, excess weight, bloating or any other number of symptoms, your body needs some help to cleanse. The intelligent application of fasting is a brilliant way of helping you to do this.
Enjoy plenty of fresh vegetable juices, particularly green vegetable juices (see recipe below), with a touch of fruit to sweeten the juice and ensure it is still delicious. You can also use sweeter vegetable such as carrot, beetroot and bell pepper to add sweetness.
A good rule of thumb is to ensure that at least half of your juices when fasting are green vegetable based juices, and then use other juices for fun and variety. Be particularly careful not to overdo fresh fruit juices as they will send your sugar levels out of balance and feed yeast if over consumed.
Low sugar fruit juices are a better option. Fresh grapefruit juice alone is divine, green apples add sweetness to any juice, and berries add a whole new indulgent flavor. Use lemons and limes in everything if you like! They are brilliant alkalizers and extremely low in sugar.
How much juice should I be drinking?
How much juice you drink when fasting is a very personal decision as it should be directed by your own hunger signals and how you feel. However, it is ideal to include at least one liter of green vegetable juice every day, if not more. Then you could enjoy another one to three litres of juice dependent on how much you feel you need.
For both myself and a lot of clients that I guide on fasts, two to three liters of juice over the day feels good, although some days might be a little less or more. Get your one to two liters of mostly green vegetable juice in as your non negotiable and then have more juice according to your body’s needs.
Do I need to alter my lifestyle and routine while fasting?
This very much depends on your experience with fasting, your health history, your work and family commitments, the cleanliness of your diet before starting, the responsibilities and demands on your time and energy and the support you have.
If you are drinking a lot of juice, say four liters, you may find that you can continue on functioning with your normal schedule just fine while fasting. However, by doing so you are not giving your body the maximum chance to embrace and work with the healing and cleansing process. While you may be able to get up and go to work, do your chores, look after your family and make your juice to boot, you won’t be giving yourself the best experience and results possible. Rest and relaxation are vital for optimal results.
If you are drinking three liters of juice or less, it is really important to cut yourself a break while doing your juice fast. You don’t have to stop your life altogether, but cut out excess work that can wait, say no to social events which might make your fasting more difficult to stick to and take up more of your time and energy, leave the hard workouts out of your regime and communicate to any one you need to that you won’t be taking on anything extra.
Carve out some time as often as you can for relaxation, rest, gentle movement like stretching and walking, reading, watching films, meditation and for working on creative projects that inspire and delight you, rather than those that drain you.
How to ensure your fast is beneficial
When you fast, your body is using all that time normally spent on digestion to clean up your cells and draw up old toxic matter. When this toxic matter is drawn up, it is looking for a way out of your body. For your fast to leave you cleaner celled and feeling better, you have to ensure that toxic matter actually leaves your body.
You will know this matter has left your body because you will see it and feel it coming out, particularly though your bowel! You might also see it in your skin and through your sweat, and in excess mucus build up in your mouth and nose, but your bowel is going to play the biggest role in dumping that old toxic waste out – literally!
However, the vast majority of people who fast don’t have natural bowel eliminations. If this si the case for you, colon cleansing is truly a must!
If you fast but your bowels aren’t moving, where do you think that toxicity is going? That’s right – nowhere! It’s going to stay inside you and your body will be in exactly the same state as it was before your fast. That is not a beneficial fast!
How you can incorporate juice fasting into your life
So by now you understand what juice fasting is and why it is a fabulous cleansing and healing tool. It may however still seem very intimidating and scary for you to think about going without solid food for a few days or more! That is very normal but don’t despair, you can still use the concept of juice fasting to get you great results without having to go for a long period surviving on only liquid meals.
To give you an idea, here are a few ways you can include fasting in your life to get results: one day fasts, part day fasts, mini fasts, long fasts, juices and blended food “fasts”, juices and raw food “fasts”, and even just including juicing into your daily routine along with the other meals you eat will start to get you on the path to cleaner cells.
Whatever approach works best for you is great! Any help you give your body by lightening up your diet and adding in juicing is going to start shifting your body to a more alkaline and balanced state which will only give you better health and a body you love over time.
If you would like to be guided through a fast at a level that is right for you, you can join in The Juicy Life program, which next starts on Monday the 9th of May.
The only way to effectively approach cleansing, whether it is juice fasting, raw foods, whole foods or any other kind of approach, is to consider your individual needs, goals, health history, and emotional and social considerations, and find an approach which will take you closer to your goals while honoring your own needs.
Ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Kelly LeVeque.