If you don’t follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’re probably totally unaware… but for the last 48 hours, I tried my first juice cleanse. I had always heard about the benefits of juicing… but also heard a lot of negative things about people’s actual juice cleanse experiences, so had never been willing to bite the bullet and pay for one. (They can be pretty pricey!) But the Protein Bar, one of my favorite fast-casual restaurants, is launching a new line of cold-pressed raw juices (along with a cleansing program for when to drink them), and they put out a call on Instagram for people to try it out. I decided I had nothing to lose by giving it a shot!
I was really pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t nearly as difficult as people claim. I mean, granted, I only did a two-day cleanse (honestly I think that wouldn’t be good for your body to go without real food for a much longer period), but after my experience, I think that people who complain about how hard it is are just looking for the attention 🙂 I tracked my thoughts in a Word document so that I could be as honest as possible about the experiment and what I was feeling throughout; here they are:
Day 1 (Tuesday)
4:30am: Woke up unable to sleep, and decided I would get some extra work done now and then take a nap late afternoon/early evening.
6am: IT’S JUICE CLEANSE DAY! I wonder if I should go to the gym, or if I should skip it given that I won’t be consuming that many calories?
6:30am: Finally dash to the gym for a quick 30 minute cardio session before getting ready for work. This is probably my last workout until I eat solid food again – I’m a little worried about not having energy during the cleanse!
8am: On the way to a meeting and having my first juice of the day: Market. It’s a blend of kale, romaine, spinach, celery, apple, cucumber, parsley, lemon, lime, and ginger. Market is the base of the cleanse (you basically have it for every other drink) so I’m really hoping I like it… and I do! It’s surprisingly sweet given all the veggies and the fact that it’s the lowest calorie content of all the juice blends (180 cals per bottle.)
10am: Meetings went well, and I can’t believe it’s time for another bottle of juice already! Hooray. I’m not even hungry yet… I like getting to eat every two hours 🙂 This time I get to try Beet Box, which is made of apple, cucumber, beet, carrot, and ginger. It’s sweeter than Market, but not cloyingly so, and I love it.
11am: Psh, I don’t know why people are always complaining about juice cleanses. Sure, I’m only three hours in, but this is delightful! I could juice cleanse seven days a week! HOORAY FOR CLEANSING!
11:15am: Strike that. OH MY GOD I WANT REAL FOOD. A couple people at the office are starting to get lunch, and it’s making me really jealous. Plus, I’m really cold… I want coffee/tea! I settle for a cup of just plain hot water and it is every bit as pathetic as it sounds.
11:20am: Okay. Don’t be weak, Laura. More juice in just 40 minutes. YOU CAN DO IT!
12:15pm: Got distracted by work and forgot that I could have my juice 15 minutes ago. I’m back to the original Market blend, and it’s just as good as I remember it. Crisis averted, and hooray for juice cleanses! (You’ll notice I am very positive about things whenever I’m actually drinking a bottle of the juice… it really is delicious. However, the in-between periods aren’t that bad because I know I’m only two hours away from another bottle. My willpower can handle two hours!)
12:50pm: Adam points out that consuming all juice for two days might result in some unusual side effects of the gastrointestinal variety. Oh, crap (no pun intended) – I honestly hadn’t considered that beforehand. So far so good, but I am now fearful…
1:40pm: Whoa, I get another bottle of juice in just 20 minutes? These two hours flew by!
2:40pm: I got busy and forgot to have my 2pm juice. I’m actually kind of excited that I missed it! It means a) I’m not really hungry and b) if I keep having them every two hours *from now*, my last juice will be at 6:40pm instead of 6pm. The closer I can get it to bedtime, I think the easier this will be!
5pm: Naptime. I debate whether to have my juice right before or push it back to right after, and go with the latter. I sleep like a baby, but wake up feeling kind of out of it. Whether it’s from the low-calorie juices all day or just the fact that I usually don’t take naps, I’m not sure…
7pm: Ugh, I feel yucky now – a little bit sick to my stomach. I now think it’s more the case of all that juice rather than the nap. But, I don’t have too much more work to do tonight, so hopefully I can go to bed early and feel better that way? We shall see.
(Went to bed around 11pm… oops. But the yucky feeling went away as soon as I had my final juice of the night. My body adapted way too quickly to getting to eat every 2 hours!)
Day 2 (Wednesday)
6am: Wake up but decide not to work out. I am really tired, but whether it’s from the juice or not getting enough sleep the last few days, I’m not sure. Either way, I am really hungry already… and yet I was planning on holding off on my first juice till 8am (which is my normal breakfast time). Hmmm…
6:30am: Been working since I woke up, but now I feel kind of sick to my stomach as I sit here. The idea of juice sounds terrible. I want real breakfast food! With salt! I’m still trying to hold out till later though. It is still pitch black outside and doesn’t feel like I should be having breakfast yet. I also kind of want coffee.
6:45am: Break down and have my breakfast (that green Market blend) early. I am surprised to discover that while I felt sick to my stomach earlier and didn’t really want juice, it now tastes really delicious. (This continues to be a theme throughout the cleanse – not wanting juice up until the moment I try it, then realizing it’s delicious and just what I needed.) I do miss biting into real food, but have to admit that the juice is really tasty whenever I get to have some.
8:30am: Still trying to hold out a bit to get back on a later schedule with when I get to drink my juice. However, I am really craving tea or coffee or soup or something warm right now. I settle for a mug of hot water and feel incredibly pathetic for drinking that. My friend Adam: “Why don’t you have tea? That’s good for you.” Me: “Well, salad is good for me too, and I’m avoiding that…” I figure for two days, I might as well go whole-hog with the cleanse.
8:45am: Wonder exactly how many nutrients it would destroy if I were to microwave my cold-pressed juice. Also wonder how disgusting hot juice would taste. Decide not to find out.
9:30am: Sweetgreens juice time. I have a hard time tasting the difference between this flavor and the Market flavor (especially since I’m not trying them side by side), but they’re both really delicious! I could definitely see making one of them a regular breakfast after I’m done with this all-out cleanse.
11:40am: Still no gastrointestinal issues, surprisingly (take THAT, Adam!) but I’ve noticed that my stomach gurgles very strangely when it’s almost time for another juice. Not the normal rumbling tummy you get when you’re hungry, but crazy gurgling that sounds like there is something bad about to happen. I’m crossing my fingers that nothing ever does!
12pm: I would kill for something savory right now instead of sweet. Instead, it’s juice time! The juice is still really tasty (note what I said earlier about not wanting it but then being happy to get it); however, I just really would like some salt about now. 18 hours to go!
12:05pm: Okay, this Market juice is still damn delicious. Also, I am proud that I have finally identified the subtle differences between the Market flavor and the Sweetgreens flavor: the Sweetgreens has a lot of pineapple, while the Market is much more subtle and “greens”-ier tasting. (Still sweet, though – just less so.) I think I prefer Market.
2:30pm: Last Sweetgreens of the cleanse! I am also excited for this juice because I feel like my breath is horrible right now, and water is not doing anything to help. That’s a sign that I’m detoxing, right? Ohhhhh it tastes so good though. I know I said I like the Market better, because it’s less sweet, but this is really hitting the spot right now.
4:30pm: Ughhhh my mouth tastes terrible again. When do I get to have… omg NOW! I have to say, I am really liking how pretty much every time I want to have juice, it’s time to do so (or close to it). Eating every two hours is great! I downed my final Market of the cleanse too fast for a pic
7:30pm: I can’t believe it’s time for my last juice of the cleanse! It really has not been nearly as bad as so many people have tried to make juice cleansing out to be. (Though admittedly, many people do juice cleanses longer than two days… but I think that was plenty for me.) As a reward for it being my last juice of the cleanse, I get to try a juice that I haven’t tried before – the POW is made with pineapple, orange, and wheatgrass, so quite a different flavor profile than the others. I was really excited to mix it up, especially since the guy at the Protein Bar told me this was his favorite, but… not mine. It was really tangy (and certainly not bad), but I think I am just not a huge fan of wheatgrass.
I’m going to pick the Market as my favorite of the ones I tried – and as a bonus, that’s also the one that’s lowest in calories!
So first, a few things that everyone has been asking me: I didn’t end up with any sort of gastrointestinal distress at all, even when I went back to solid foods today. And I broke the fast with a two-egg breakfast sandwich this morning and then a bowl of Indian food for lunch… not exactly easing back into solid food! As worried as I was, for the last three days, my bathroom habits were totally normal throughout – take that, Adam! (What do I win for proving I have a stomach of steel?)
As for any weight loss, I dropped 4 pounds between Tuesday morning and this morning (before I started eating solid foods again); however, I don’t expect that weight loss to last at all. I felt like I was drinking a lot less water while on the juice cleanse, probably in part because whenever my mouth got that yucky feeling (kind of like when you first wake up in the morning?), I didn’t want something tasteless. So I would bet that the four pounds is dehydration and will come back now that I’m back to regular food.
And that brings me to overall effects. The first day, I felt like I was more tired than usual… but that was also right after I had gotten very little sleep the night before. Yesterday I felt a normal level of energy, which is surprising given how low-calorie a cleanse is (I had 1160 calories Tuesday and 1280 calories yesterday). One thing that was interesting is that the highest calorie juice, the POW, was scheduled to be at the end of the day. I think if I were to do it again, I’d have that for breakfast – I didn’t really need the extra energy right before I’m going to bed!
On the nutrition front, it concerns me that the juices were so high in sugar – I ended up having 168 grams of sugar on Tuesday, and 192 grams of sugar on Wednesday. Of course, this is naturally occurring sugar, but I still can’t think that would be good on a long-term basis. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so for me at least, I think the juices could have been much less sweet and they still would have been tasty. I’m not too worried about all that sugar for just two days, but it would make me think twice about drinking these too frequently.
Which brings me to the most common question of all from my friends: would I recommend a juice cleanse? I don’t know that I experienced a ton of actual health benefits, though admittedly, it’s hard to tell after just two days (and no real way of measuring it). To me, the biggest benefit of the juice cleanse was getting away from using food as a reward or treat. (Though I mean it when I say the juice was really delicious and it did feel like a treat every time I got to drink some.) But that said, that benefit is huge!
Honestly, I think about food a lot during the day – when I’m going to have my next meal, what I’m going to eat, etc. It was refreshing to instead view the juice as fuel, just like you would put gas in your car for a long journey. Because I got to have the juice every two hours, there were several occasions where it was time for a juice and I had it only because it was time, rather than because I was starving for it or really craving it. That’s probably a healthier attitude toward food than I usually have, and I’d like to try to remember that going forward.
But, when I am home instead of traveling, I love cooking; having juice for every meal really took a lot of enjoyment away from me. Yes, it was faster to just grab a juice than spend twenty minutes cooking a meal, but I find cooking very relaxing, almost like meditation (especially the slicing and dicing). Going forward, I’d be more likely to make juice smoothies myself rather than buying them – I think that would be a good compromise if I get some of the benefits of green juice but not miss out on the fun of spending time in the kitchen. (Though it admittedly takes very little time/effort to throw together a smoothie.)
And will I do a juice cleanse again? I don’t know that I’d try a full-on, nothing-but-juice cleanse like this. It really wasn’t difficult, but if I wanted to “cleanse”, I would prefer maybe having a juice for breakfast but then eating salads or something like that the rest of the day. However, I did really love the Market juice, in particular, from the Protein Bar. I could definitely see having that (or something similar) for breakfast a few days a week on a regular basis in order to get some of the benefits of all those greens without doing a full-on cleanse.
Any other questions? Have you ever tried a juice cleanse?
Thank you to Protein Bar for providing me with free juices so I could test out their new cleanse in exchange for feedback and mentions on social media! They did not require me to write a blog post, but I thought y’all would be interested in my thoughts, which are of course, all my own and not influenced by the fact that I got to try these juices for free.