My aim here is to explore not just the benefits of juicing, but the lasting effectiveness of maintaining weight loss or health benefits over longer periods of time. My personal experiences can hopefully shed some light on this, as well as attempt to explain how it all works!
What do you need?
- A juicer - I bought a Phillips juicer for about £40
- The Jason Vale book, or you can also buy the JV app on an iphone or get it on googlebooks for about £5. My Phillips juicer actually came with the book.
- Lots of fruit and veg ingredients, including a lot of green 'stuff'!
- Straws - you do need to protect your teeth as there is a lot of acidity in the juices.
The concept - you drink nothing but juice for 7 days.
On a first glance, this seems irresponsible. Be prepared for a lot of blank faces when you try to explain why you are not partaking in the staff lunch/birthday meal celebrations/sunday lunch with your parents, and the inherent urge to try and explain yourself. I originally tried this several years ago, but because I did not read the accompanying book by Vale, I had a sense in the back of my mind that I could not survive without food, and I failed.
The truth is though, you can. Having attempted this again last August, my whole mindset was totally different, because I read the book first. You are still eating food, to the value of at least 1,200 calories, and probably far more nutritional food for that matter than you are likely to find in the average diet.
The book isn't exactly a literary genius, but to give credit to Jason Vale, he does help you to understand the science behind it and the reasons why juicing has such a phenomenal effect your body. Surprisingly, the majority of the juices are very nice, even the veggie based ones.
What Happens During the Week?
1. If you can incorporate light exercise, do it. It might seem mad as it feels like you are not eating, but it actually makes you feel better. I've tried the plan both with not exercising, and with exercising, and the latter is definitely a bit easier and keeps your energy levels up.
2. CLEAN YOUR JUICER straight after using it. It's incredibly hard to clean it once the fruit has hardened. May sound obvious but I learned this the hard way!
Day two - I struggle to get up in the morning, but know that if I don't, I won't have time to make all the required juices for the day (and I don't want to be cleaning my juicer twice in one day!) Mentally, I find myself battling with it at this point. I am tired. Exercise brings my energy levels up. I have a plentiful supply of juice and didn't feel hungry at all. 2/3lb is banished by the end of the second day.
Day three - I wake up and a strange thing happens. I don't have a 'sleep hangover' (you know, where you want to roll over and give yourself 10 more minutes). I am raring to go. I feel really good - which makes me realise that what I eat generally perhaps weighs me down/makes me tired. I seem to have dropped about 4lb on the scales, too. The Lemon Ginger Zinger is really tasty (I love ginger, though, so it may not be to everyone's tastes). The 'Passion 4 Juice Master' is also a personal favourite, which includes bio yoghurt.
Day four - I still miss and crave food occasionally, but more out of habit than hunger. However I remind myself that it's ONLY seven days and the scales have now dropped an further pound. My energy levels are soaring which makes me struggle a bit with sleeping, but the exercising helps with that. I actually start to find that I no longer even really need to drink all of the juices, as I feel full before I've finished them.
Day five & six - I'm getting so much done at work. I'm looking forward to chewing something again, but otherwise, I'm not too fussed. I have to attend a work meal, and I'm dreading it. I find it really hard to resist/explain myself, as the social eating scenarios are the worst. 'What do you mean you're not eating?' colleagues say in disbelief, trying to get me to break, but I can't launch myself into a lecture on nutrition right now. I explain myself as basically as I can, they leave me to my soda and lime, and let me get on with it. It's not as bad as I thought.
Day seven - Weirdly, I feel by this point, that I could keep going on longer. I feel a sense of achievement that I've nearly made it, but also a desire to keep on eating and juicing so that I continue to feel great after the week is over. I have lost half a stone (7lb) in weight. As an added bonus, the pesky migraines that had been plaguing me for several weeks are now completely gone. My skin is glowing, and my eyes are shining. Everyone keeps asking me what new beauty product I am using on my skin.
Once you reach the seven days, the likelihood is that you will want to keep eating well. You don't actually miss pizza anymore. Spinach is oddly appealing. And if you're like me, and still need a bit of discipline, Jason Vale has a follow on '14 day plan', which is a helpful next step to start introducing the right foods back into your diet.
What's so important here, is that if you attempt this plan, you should make the juices yourself. It's so tempting to order ones that are ready made and delivered to your door, especially when you have a busy lifestyle. I tried one of these ready made plans with a company after buying a Groupon, and it was a totally different experience. I was constantly hungry, it tasted like there were added sugars (which defeats the purpose of cutting out the bad stuff). Plus, it's by far cheaper to buy all the fruit and veg off the market, and you'll be able to continue to use the juicer once you're finished the plan.
But does the weight really stay off?!
It was at this point that I then set off on a mini tour of the East Coast for 3 1/2 weeks (see previous 'Hooters Mission' blog post :). If anything would test the tenacity of my weight loss, a visit to the US and lots of drinking and cheese burgers would. I nervously returned to the scales on my return, tail between my legs, with one eye closed. I had indeed regained 5lb, and figured that this was a fair deal. But here's the interesting part, I reverted to eating relatively normally (not quite as well as before) and the 5lb dropped back off within two days.
Here's my theory as to why this happened; the body, when it gets used to a certain weight for a long enough period of time, 're-sets' itself at that level, and tends to work towards keeping you there. Despite my self sabotage, my body reverted me to the level it had grown used to whilst eating well.
They say if you do anything for 21 days it becomes a habit, and true to form, you actually do incorporate certain changes as a natural part of your lifestyle. I still indulge myself and have bad weeks, but generally I make more conscious choices, I make juices fairly often for breakfast, swap white pasta for brown pasta, white potatoes for sweet potatoes, and enjoy the odd salad out of choice. Juicing also arguably helps you to maintain weight loss because it changes the way your body digests food and makes it more efficient, flooding it with 'good' enzymes, which help you to process your food much, much easier.*
Repeating the process
5 months later, the weight had stayed off at 10st 5 (and 5ft 9) , but I still felt I wasn't at my target weight. I decided to take the juice detox again in December during a 'slow' week at work. I lost another half a stone and have continued to maintain that two months on, without any real difficulty, even over the xmas and new year period, which I have to admit I am surprised about! I keep juicing, though not always every day, and it makes such a difference to my energy. It's great for keeping your skin and hair looking good, too.
For me, the juicing has been life changing and has taken a stone and a half of weight off me, and kept it off, even when I have taken breaks and indulged in the odd camembert/pizza/drinking session. I don't feel like I'm dieting in the slightest. The whole experience has also inspired me to start a nutrition diploma, so I can understand more about foods and how they affect the body.
I hope this review has been helpful! If you have experiences of the 7 day juice diet, please do feel free to share them as I'd love to know how others get on, too.