As we get closer and closer to New Year’s Eve, you’re probably rushing to prepare for all the parties, and make good on those fitness resolutions. And we’re guessing you’re planning to try (if you haven’t already) a quick fix that has been gaining an immense amount of popularity lately — the juice fast.
A juice fast, or juice cleanse, is when you give up solid food and only drink juices instead. These liquid diets are adopted for anywhere between 1 and 7 days, and are touted as miracle fixes that help you lose weight and “detox” your system. And because you’re only drinking fruit juices, it sounds perfectly healthy, right?
The concept of a juice fast being a detox program is rather inaccurate. In a healthy human body, the liver and kidneys naturally remove toxins from the system. Consuming a drink meant to encourage a ‘detox’ has no effect, especially when the drink is void of essential vitamins and minerals.
In addition, consuming large quantities of fruit juices will wreak havoc upon your blood sugar. It is commonly believed that as long a juice is prepared with no added sugar, it is healthy. The truth however, is that with each juice, you’re receiving a massive rush of fructose, which is fruit sugar.The fact that these sugars are derived from fruits is often wrongly interpreted to mean that they aren’t harmful. But like any sugar, fructose also triggers blood sugar and insulin spikes, which can result in conditions like insulin resistance, diabetes, PCOS, and fatty liver.
“But if fruit juice is so bad for you, why is eating fruit good?” Quite simply, it boils down to portions. When eating whole fruit, you will likely eat only 1 or 2 pieces. When juicing however, you end up using 4 or more portions of fruit per glass of juice. So you end up with 4 times (or more!)
What about losing weight? Most people will experience some immediate weight loss on a juice fast. This is only water though, which is released from the cells when glycogen stores are depleted. This shouldn’t be considered true weight loss though, because it will come right back once you start eating solid food again.
What you will also likely notice is reduced energy. A juice fast throws your body into not just a caloric deficit, but also a nutrient deficit. This slows your metabolism, and your body enters a conservation mode. You will likely feel fatigued and experience some brain fog, too. The lack of sodium in a juice fast can also leave you lightheaded and woozy.
If you’re looking at regularly doing juice cleanses while also working out, be warned that you won’t just lose a little water weight, but also muscle mass. Since the body goes into starvation mode once glycogen stores are depleted, it starts to burn muscle for energy instead. Regularly observing a juice fast could, consequently, lead to weaker muscle and bone tissue.
The bottom line? While it isn’t the worst thing to enjoy the occasional glass of juice, avoid drinking it too often, and definitely don’t build an entire diet around it! We recommend having a smoothie loaded with healthy fibre and good fats instead, or even simpler, eat your fruit and veggies whole. Your gut and teeth will thank you!
Stay Healthy. Grow Fit.