Four years ago a friend of mine who is an actress performed a juice fast. Your opinion? The drinks were horrible, but she lost a lot of weight and felt "cleaner" afterwards. He made his experience sound magical.
I was skeptical. The only other person I had heard about juice fasts at that time was Gwyneth Paltrow, the actress who named her son as a market product and who always seems to speak to an audience of women rich enough to live the same life that she. As a general rule, I am against anything that Gwyneth Paltrow supports. I dismissed the whole issue of cleanliness as a fad.
But it's been four years now and this theme of juices refuses to disappear. Businesses that rely on juices have appeared in many places. Those who advocate juice fasts say that fasting helps with weight loss, getting rid of toxins from the body, reducing the risk of cancer, aids digestion and improves the immune system (although most of these claims have not been scientifically proven). In the place where I live in Los Angeles, the juice fast is no longer the exclusive territory for aspiring actresses, hippies and health fans. Even people who do not smell like Woodstock had happened in their hair are doing it.
My skepticism turned into curiosity. I am an active person, usually as healthy foods... but let's say it would not hurt me to lose a few pounds. My upbringing in the Midwest led me to eat a lot of red meat over the years, and although I exercise regularly, I have the power to control portions of C. C. Sabathia. I know what I should do to lose weight, but normally I do not. My problem is willpower.
This is the reason why the idea of a juice cleaning seemed attractive to me. Health professionals say you should not think about a cleanse as a long-term solution to weight loss, and I did not. Instead, I was struck by the challenge. Could I go three days without food? For most of my life, I never spent much more than three hours between meals. If I could complete a cleanse, spend 72 hours without chewing anything, the improvement of my strength of my will would exceed any temporary weight loss I might experience.
As an additional bonus: I will finally have something to talk about with Gwyneth Paltrow if we were ever stuck together in an elevator.
"I am a mother with two children, and when I feel heavy, I make a juice fast, my skin clears, I lose a few pounds and I empty myself, the clouds in my mind disappear".
Marjan Sarshar, owner of Kreation Juicery
Choosing the right cleaning
Many believe that modern juice fasting has its roots in the 1990s when, according to the New York Times, a scientologist and entrepreneur named Peter Glickman repackaged a diet from the 1940s called "The Master Cleanse."In it, people avoid solid meals between 10 and 30 days, and instead drink drinks that consist of water, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, lemons and sea salt. (There are many variations of the diet and some allow the consumption of limited solids such as apples).
I had tasted the drink. It tasted like a liquid paste that we would all be drinking if the Germans had won the war. I knew that at the beginning of this diet I would not be able to survive solely with this yellowish paste. There had to be more tasty options.
So I got in touch with Kreation Juicery in Beverly Hills, one of the many juice businesses that have appeared in recent years. Kreation sells juices squeezed in a bottle, an important attribute. Prepackaged juices save novices like me from the problem of buying huge amounts of fruits and vegetables, spending hours cutting and making juice and waste even more time washing the extractor and its components, all for a drink that ends in less than a minute.
Kreation recommended this three-day "Reboot" cleanup, which is said to help trigger a healthier diet, lead to more relaxation and better nighttime rest, and help improve your energy levels.
"I am a mom with two children, and when I feel heavy, I do a juice fast," Kreation owner Marjan Sarshar told me. He emphasized that he was only talking about his experience with diet, which may differ from the opinion of other people. "I feel more energetic, my skin clears, I lose a few pounds and I empty my tongue, my tongue looks better, more pink I feel light, fresh and I can make better decisions, the clouds in my mind disappear. "
They gave me 18 bottles of juice (six per day) and six bottles of water (three of mint, three of lemon). The juices varied between the delicious "Peaceful" (pineapple and apple) and "Trinity Twist" (a trinity of lemon, apples, carrots and beets), the tasty "Relax" (lots of carrots) and the unfortunate "Protein Power" (vanilla), dates and almonds), which tastes as if it had come out of a wood chipper machine. I could also drink as much bottled water as I wanted. Besides that, nothing.
The next three days were a mixture of enthusiasm, hunger, nervousness, hunger, doubt, hunger, resentment (with people who could eat), hunger and finally, triumph. Did I mention hunger? There was a lot of that. Although some details are confusing (probably because of hunger), I can summarize the juice fast in five stages.
Stage 1: Optimism
I felt quite energized when leaving the Kreation store in Beverly Hills. Although I was a little nervous, I was excited to face a new challenge. I had not eaten anything since the previous day, so when I got into my car I opened a bottle of "Green # 1" (a mixture of romaine lettuce, apple, mint and other things).Maybe because I half expected anything called "Green # 1" to be made of people (damn you, Charlton Heston!), I was surprised at how good the drink tasted. I finished it before I got home. I had another juice in the middle of the morning, it was also tasty. Good start. I remember thinking "this will not be so bad". Which, of course, is exactly what people think before things go wrong.
Stage 2: Hunger ("Extreme hunger", to be exact)
Stage 1 lasts three hours. By lunchtime, I was hungrier than usual and after lunch I was dying of hunger. When my wife asked me to accompany her to a presentation I had to do at the Ovitt Family Library in Ontario, California, I was thrilled by the opportunity, partly because I wanted to support her, but also because she would give me something to distract me and stop thinking in food. I could only think of food, food at home, food in restaurants and even the food that my dog ate. I needed to get distracted because, I do not want to become a technician, but my body was getting crazy.
"Your body was going into panic / survival mode," said Jen Reilly, a Washington-based dietitian at D.C. who restarts detoxification diets for patients who want to eat healthier. I asked her and the LIVESTRONG advisor. com, Dr. Mike Roussell, author of "The 6 Pillars of Nutrition", to explain what was happening to me on a psychological level. They both agreed that the sudden drop in the number of calories can send a shock to your system, one that appears as extreme hunger.
Anyway, here's the detail I did not know about the Orvitt Library: they serve beer. Before the presentation of my wife, I took a bottle of juice while watching the beautiful taps of delicious golden beer. I had fantasies about hitting several IPA while my wife talked, celebrating the good points she made and shutting up all the people in the section of children who even dared to breathe. But no. I sat still, savoring the last drops of the Kreation version of the Master Cleanse (which does not taste as bad as the real Master Cleanse), trying not to be too grumpy. Neither the library could protect me from my cravings.
Stage 3: Uprising
By the morning of the second day, I had lost seven pounds. I should have been happy, but I was not happy for two reasons: 1) too many people had told me that the weight loss would be temporary and 2) By God, I was hungry. Right at this moment, my stomach began to feel even more uncomfortable and began to cram. It was the first of a session of about a dozen cramps that I would experience during fasting.
There are two schools of thought about the cause of cramps. Reilly attributed the sensations to the fact that the acid in my stomach wanted to digest something, but nothing was available.Meanwhile, Roussell believes that the cause of the cramps was that he was consuming many more vitamins than normal.
I also had short and intermittent headaches. Roussell said that headaches are common in diets with restricted calories. Reilly said that the headaches could have been caused by the "mobilized toxins" floating around my body or because of low blood sugar.
But the most difficult part physically, and I'll put it in the most delicate way possible, was how much I read Sports Illustrated. Sports Illustrated is my official reading on my visits to the bathroom. Starting on the afternoon of the second day, I started reading Sports Illustrated more and more frequently. As the cleanup continued, I spent more time with the NFL writer Peter King than his own wife.
Speaking in the most polite way possible, Reilly said that my body was removing the "garbage" from its system. Roussell attributed it again to a reaction to the increase in vitamin intake. Bloggers of juice blogs and health websites say that frequent reading of Sports Illustrated occurs because the sugar in the juices carries water to the intestines, while others indicate a reason with more common sense: if only liquid enters, it will only come out liquid, and because the body does not have to dissolve any food everything moves faster.
I also experienced some mentality changes. On the way to the library, my wife asked me a simple question and it took me several seconds to respond. The little hamster wheel between my ears was spinning slower than usual. Reilly and Roussell said that low blood sugar can make you think and react more slowly, which Reilly assured me is not harmful, as long as it's temporary.
Stage 4: Doubt
At the end of the afternoon of day 2, I began to seriously question whether I would endure the three days. I started making concessions. Is it cheating if I eat an apple? He was miserable because he was hungry. The juices gave me energy, but not satisfaction. Kreation warns its customers about this feeling, saying that only a California company could do that, as the fast progresses "you may become increasingly sensitive." Which is like saying, "If your plane falls from the sky, you may worry more and more."
Although normally I do not sleep until 11, that second night I went to bed around 7 p.m. m. I thought maybe I could sleep the next 48 hours as a space traveler and that when I woke up everything would be over and I could eat a burrito the size of a football. This is not functional.
So as I wallowed in bed, I looked forward to doing the only thing that helped me get through the toughest hunger periods during the fast: posting a Facebook update. In retrospect, the daily messages I sent to friends and family, and the encouragement I received in response, may have been the main reason why I did not quit.I did not want to disappoint them.
It turns out that is not uncommon. Without wanting to, I came across a practice that economists call "precommitment", which happens when one of the parties (in this case I) strengthens its position by limiting its options. The man who came up with this idea (Thomas Schelling) then won the Nobel Prize.
I, on the other hand, continued reading Sports Illustrated.
Stage 5: Triumph
The third day I had already lost 10 pounds, which were mostly water weight, according to Reilly and Roussell, but probably also a little fat. Even more important, I did not feel terrible.
Day 3 is seen as the day of the epiphany by the advocates of cleanliness. This was my case. I felt less "sensitive", I worked all day with my normal amount of energy and, although I was hungry, it was less intense than it had been the previous two days.
Both Reilly and Roussell said that the body takes about three days to adjust to new patterns of calorie consumption. On day 1 and day 2 you are still trying to figure out where all the sandwiches went. When the third day arrives the body knows where it is getting its calories (juice and stored fat) and adjusts accordingly.
Some veterans on the subject of juice fast say that if you do it until day 3, you can go on for many more. Sarshar, of Kreation, says he has done it for up to 21 days. I did not have a reason to continue.
A few hours after turning 72, I ate my first solid meal: A hot dog. Not just any hot dog, the best hot dog any man has ever eaten. My jaw hurt to chew and clearly at some level I missed the point, but it was glorious.
Almost two weeks after the cleanup he still weighed five pounds less. I recovered the other five almost immediately, that annoying weight of water, as Reilly and Roussell said.
It took my body nearly 48 hours to adjust to your regular Sports Illustrated reading schedule. I have not read tennis articles again.
But in addition to weight loss, there have been many more interesting changes, and with luck, more lasting. Today I still feel conscious of what I eat and what I drink. I had always equaled the protein with energy, but now I know that I can generate enough energy to function well without eating too much protein. Or any food, in fact. As long as it is for a short period of time.
Roussell said that one of the reasons why juice diets are popular is because they have clear rules, and diets with clear rules are easier to follow. From my experiment with juices, I have found myself following new and simple rules such as "only fruits or vegetables as snacks". Also, when eating at home, like dinner on a salad plate, which is smaller and contains less food. This also helps.
But I do not think those are the reasons why people like my friend actress and Gwyneth Paltrow become fans of juices. In my experience, the real benefits are not physical. They are psychological. And not in the way you imagine.
Three or thirty days invested in altering your diet radically is an investment of time, money and, at some point, suffering. At the end of this test, or any proof of willpower, we have a natural desire to mean something. People want a teaching Nobody wants to think that he wasted his time or money or energy on something that did not help him become a better person. So they go back to eating solids, but with healthier habits.
If there is a magical property in juice fasts, it is this: illusion.
And for some people, it works.