In Los Angeles, juice cleanses are all the rage these days. Whether you want to drop a few pounds fast or hope to break the cycle of unhealthy eating habits, this new dietary fad may do the trick. But how healthy is drinking nothing but fresh juice for days? And how realistic is it? In the spirit of World Health Day on April 7, social media maven Melina P. and I traded solid food for liquid for 3 days courtesy of our friends at TheRealJuice.com. Here’s the 411 on what to expect.
It was pure curiosity that drove me to a try a juice cleanse. I’d heard a lot about them, but never head the willpower to try one. But with Lent coming to an end, I decided this would be as good a time as any to take the plunge. I’d already given up sweets for 40 days. What’s solid food for 3?
In case you’re thinking about trying a juice cleanse yourself, we opted for full disclosure. I am already a vegetarian and an active one. Soup and smoothies are a regular part of my diet, and I’m big on exercising. I love taking spin classes. However, I’m a HUGE pasta person… carbs are my BFF.
Melina is a vegetarian, too, and a juice cleanse veteran. Although I regularly enjoy fresh fruit and veggie juices, the thought of juicing as a meal replacement frightened me, because I constantly snack throughout the day. Despite my fear of not eating solid food, I was excited to try the 3-day Level II cleanse to boost my energy levels, eliminate toxins and promote clearer skin.
We chose the 3-day juice cleanse, but 1-, 2-, and 5-day options are also available. They all include six 16.9-ounce bottles per day, as well as a free cooler bag and frozen gel packs for easy portability. Plus, your full cleanse is delivered to your door the night before it starts. We even got preparation guidelines and a free informational booklet.
In an effort to minimize the shock to our bodies and make the transition smoother, we both took advantage of the recommended ease-in. This starts 3 days before the cleanse. You slowly phase out meat, dairy, bread and pasta until all that’s left is raw fruits and veggies.
JILLIAN: I started this Wednesday the same as any other – with a 7 a.m. spin class. I drank most of the first bottle of juice on my way to the gym and finished it on my way to work. Even though I was mentally prepared for this, I still proceeded with caution. My instinct was to conserve. I didn’t drink my second juice until after 11 a.m. By 6 p.m. I’d only drunk 3 of the 6 bottles, which meant I spent the rest of the night chugging juice in an effort to finish them all before I went to bed.
Lesson Learned: Space out the bottles more evenly.
I Felt: Good; a little tired and I seriously craved carbs, but I wasn’t starving.
The Juice: They’re all super tasty! My favorite is No. 1, Fantasize. I love the mix of pineapple and carrot.
MELINA: I had my first juice, Fantasize, at 9 a.m. It’s a sweet and tasty fruit juice. I had a juice every 2.5 hours, with plenty of water in between, and found that I had too many juices to drink in the evening. I have to admit, drinking Indulge (No. 6), which is made of cashews, vanilla and dates, was difficult. I do not enjoy milk-like beverages. After drinking it, I felt queasy. But again, that’s only because I do not enjoy anything that looks or tastes like milk.
Lesson Learned: Don’t hoard juices for fear that I’ll be hungry in the evening!
I Felt: Overall, OK. I was slightly hungry in the afternoon. I also felt tired, because I was fighting a cold.
The Juice: They’re delicious! My favorite was Energize (No. 2, 4 and 5). I love the mix of kale, cucumber, apple, celery and lemon.
JILLIAN: Today started the same as Wednesday – with a 7 a.m. spin class. I woke up feeling good and wanted to sweat. Again, I drank most of the first bottle on the way to the gym and finished it on the way to work. I was careful to space out my bottles more evenly today and it worked. I never felt hungry, but I didn’t exactly feel full either. I got a few dull headaches and stomach pains, but then I’d start drinking the next juice and they went away. I also drank lots of water throughout the day.
Lesson Learned: Trust that the juice will fill you up.
I Felt: Good! I even noticed a heightened sense of taste.
The Juice: No. 3, Replenish, is growing on me! It features beets.
MELINA: Despite not getting a good night’s sleep, I woke up with a ton of energy! I also woke up feeling full, thanks to my not-so-favorite, but substantial, Indulge juice. I was very hungry midday. The fruit juices (No. 1 & 3) aren’t as filling as the veggie and cashew juices. I dreaded drinking the last juice of the day, but once I did, I was full and my cravings subsided.
Lesson Learned: I re-red the informational pamphlet and realized I could have warm water and fresh lemon, as well as chamomile tea, which helped soothe my sore throat and curb cravings.
I Felt: Today was the toughest. I had cravings for Thai food and pizza (I never eat pizza!). But I still had an amazing amount of energy.
The Juice: Still delicious and satisfying! I was eager to get juices 1 and 3 out of the way so I could enjoy Energize (which were No. 2, 4 & 5).
JILLIAN: No exercising today. And for the record, I doubt I would have been able to exercise at all during this experience if I’d tried to do it after work. But I didn’t want to deviate too much from my regular schedule. I did, however, sit in a restaurant with my co-workers at lunch. They ate Mediterranean food, and I drank juice. No cheating! Needless to say, I’m ready for solid food!
Lesson Learned: I am capable of successfully completing a 3-day juice cleanse.
I Felt: Really great! Definitely healthier, like my body got all the fruits and veggies it needs.
The Juice: I love the fruit juices (Fantasize and Replenish). I was a little disappointed in No. 6 Indulge. I thought it would be sweeter!
MELINA: I woke up with so much energy! Not sure if it was the increase in vitamins or excitement that I’d made it to day 3! I had a juice every 2 hours and about 20 ounces of water in between. I was unable to finish my last juice – not because it wasn’t my favorite, but because I was too full. I saved it for breakfast the next morning.
Lesson Learned: There was nothing to fear! Juicing is delicious and experiencing an increase in energy is worth forgoing solid food!
I Felt: Wonderful! I could totally do a 5-day cleanse.
The Juice: Tasty! Energize was definitely my favorite. I’m glad I opted for Level II, which consists mostly of veggie juices.
JILLIAN: I loved that The Real Juice cleanse removed the decision-making from my meals. I didn’t have to think about what to eat or how many grams of fat or calories it contained. Each day, I drank the bottles in their designated order. But I definitely had a few moments when I really wanted some carbs! For me, the cleanse was all mental. I would definitely do it again. And now I’m more aware of what I’m eating and try to include more veggies in my diet.
MELINA: I loved the experience and look forward to juicing for 3-5 days every few months. I definitely felt lighter, had more energy and enjoyed taking a break from cooking and planning meals. I did experience major headaches post-cleanse, surely caused by the toxins being released from my body. I recommend drinking tons of water post-cleanse. The Real Juice cleanse helped me realize that I consume too much bread! I’ve kept my bread intake to a minimum and increased my daily fruit and veggie servings.
If you’re interested in trying The Real Juice, don’t wait! Take advantage of their spring sale now. Cleanses are only $55 per day (rather than $75 per day).