Juicehacker Day 3: Discussion Is Healthy!

"If you go under 65kgs I'm divorcing you." My poor, long suffering wife. She said that to me as I left for work this morning, I'm assuming it was a joke.

Scale picture from Shutterstock

I had just weighed myself: 66.1kg. After my huge drop on day 1, I had expected things to steady out a little, but no. After only two days on my juice fast I have lost roughly 3kgs in weight.

An overweight person, or someone taller (I'm 5' 9"/175cm) might not register the visual difference, or feel different, but I noticed it immediately. I look leaner, I feel like I'm carrying less fat. I woke up both mornings and knew I had lost weight before I even stepped on the scales.

"Your face looks gaunt," my wife said. She liked the way I used to look at 72kgs, when I carried a little more muscle and fat. I haven't looked this lean (or weighed so little) since high school. I'll admit: it's a little scary. Scary because I have committed to this fast for seven days. If this is what I look like on day three, after two days of fasting, what will I look like next Monday morning? What will the number on the scales read then?


Monday came and went with relative ease. You don't necessarily feel hungry on a juice fast, but there's a pervasive sense of emptiness. That's what you have to contend with. The urge to eat food, at least in the beginning, is a constant.

Food is everywhere. It's in the stores I pass on my way to work, it's the chocolate in the fridge chilling next to my juice. It's in the words people speak. "Stripping the bones off that story now," someone in the office said, a metaphor, plainly. All I could think of was the meat that might fall off that bone as it was stripped.

Food is cemented in every ritual we have. It structures our day. It punctuates our working hours. If I could forget that fact, this juice fast would be easy. I don't feel hungry necessarily. Hunger comes and goes in the way it might if I was eating food, but once in a while you must quiet a slight panic in your gut. It comes every time you forget that you won't be eating food for lunch, or any other meal.

It's part of my own personal attachment to food. I look forward to eating. I love food. I love cooking. I think about food regularly and have to relive that small disappointment every time I remember that I won't be eating food today, or this week for that matter.

I keep picking up food by accident. Mindlessly picking up something edible. Then I remember.

Yesterday I left the elevator in my building and something smelled incredible. As I walked closer to my apartment I realised the smell was coming from inside and I physically winced. My wife had been boiling green lentils with garlic and the smell was intoxicating. I floated towards it like a Tom and Jerry cartoon, nose sniffing in the air like a bloodhound. I had to feed these lentils to my seven-month-old child. Then I had to put the leftovers into a Tupperware container. It was unbearable.


But arguably the most tiring thing about the juice fast is the arguments, the people who can't help but pipe up.

"This is unhealthy, you should stop..."

"Why are you doing this, you'll just put the weight back on..."

"You should just eat the vegetables raw, you'll get more benefit…"

"What about protein…"

"What about the enamel on your teeth…"

"What about bad breath…"

"What about your digestive system?"

Etc, etc.

Three days in and I've heard it all. It's discouraging and, in my weakest moments, it's those voices that filter through the echo chamber providing multiple reasons to quit. But the strange reality is this: most of these complaints tend to come from people living sedentary lifestyles, or people who binge drink alcohol, or eat fast food for lunch everyday. I never openly chastise people for their unhealthy habits, yet people are so quick to judge me for trying something different, something that will potentially have a positive effect on my well-being.

The minute you try any kind of diet everyone — family, friends, random people you've never met — all automatically become experts in nutrition and you have to be on the defensive at all times. And that's tiring.

I think it's a common response. Any time someone attempts to go on any kind of diet their first obstacle is the naysayers: the people who think they know better. Part of me believes that people are simply afraid of change, and seeing the possibility of a healthy change in others is a scary confronting thing. Their first response is dismissal: a loud, obnoxious vocal dismissal. Most of the time I respond politely, but when you are the one testing your will power in a relatively extreme situation, it can be frustrating.

But at the same time it's healthy, and part of the reason I'm doing this to begin with. I want to lose kilos, I want to get to my optimum climbing weight, but I also want to start a discussion. Discussion, I'm sure we can all agree, is healthy!


Comments

    Conversation is healthy.. But I'm going to be patronizing as hell about it..

    The minute you try any kind of diet everyone — family, friends, random people you’ve never met — all automatically become experts in nutrition and you have to be on the defensive at all times.
    A very Australian problem - if someone you know tries to make themselves better by working harder than you, then you must immediately put them down to ensure you don't feel bad about yourself.

    Looking forward to more thoughts on the juice fast. I would miss eating meat too much (**Peter Griffin laugh**).

      The weird thing is in my prep week I missed chocolate and didn't care about not eating meat.

      Not I don't give a crap about chocolate and ALL I WANT IS MEAT. :)

        Maybe that's because your current diet is drastically low in protein? :)

        Last edited 28/08/13 2:57 pm

    Did you do any measurements before you went on the juice fast? How much of what you lost was muscle, fat or water?

      Most people who do juice fast lose about a 70:30 ratio of fat to muscle. You don't lose that much water weight I don't think. (I'm drinking water constantly, in the toilet all the time!) But I'm not a Doctor and the human body is a complicated thing!

      I have a rough idea what my body fat percentage is. Last time I had calipers on me it was 15% and I weighed about 72 kgs. I imagine it's a bit lower now.

        I read that as "I'm drinking water constantly in the toilet all the time" and pictured someone walking in on you drinking from the bowl. It made me laugh.

        ...

        Carry on.

        Last edited 28/08/13 1:43 pm

          Hahaha punctuation is important after all!

            The amount of water the body holds isn't a matter of how much water we drink. It's affected by numerous factors. Here's a dietary example. People who cut salt and carbohydrates tend to lose a lot of water weight.

            I don't know how much carbohydrates you are taking in but keep this in mind.

              Yeah, that's why I mentioned the not being a Doctor thing. A friend of mine mentioned something about water being stored in muscle cells from carbs, so that may account for some of the weight loss.

    Enjoying these articles Serrels!

    Last edited 28/08/13 1:36 pm

    Really interesting reads Mark. Can I ask what made you choose a juice diet as opposed just a calorie controlled approach to your normal food intake?

      A bunch of reasons.

      -- I already had a controlled approach to my normal food intake and sort of stonewalled at 69kg
      -- I like doing weird stuff and trying new things for a challenge
      -- Concentrated nutrients
      -- I wanted to reboot my taste buds a bit, make it easier to move away from bad habits
      -- For climbing mainly, to improve my strength weight ratio.

        Cheers for the answer. I am very keen to give something like this a go but I am at the other end of the spectrum. 120kg active person who would greatly benefit across all the sports I play if I was 20 kg lighter.

    I don't think I could do a juice fast. I spend too much of my day feeding other people. But green smoothies I can do. In fact I made one today! And I like that you keep all the fibre in a green smoothie. Feels wasteful to throw it away.

    What are you actually drinking?
    Been trying a variety or sticking to the same recipes?
    Specific juices to replace specific meals?

      I think I might do a post about this but mainly following all the regular ones and trying to mix it up a bit.

      80% veg to 20% fruit is the general rule.

      Mainly stuff with Apples, celery, oranges, lemon, kale, spinach, carrots, beetroot. I went to the market and went crazy!

        How defined is the line between juice and smoothie? Is there any issue with fibre?

        Would love to see the recipes for your juices! My wife tried a juice diet and got through 1.5 days and then she started feeling nauseas just thinking about drinking the juice and had to stop. Maybe she's just soft or something but I'd love to compare to the ones she tried. Might try it again with her this time

    Your first post inspired me to give this a go, but not to the full extreme. I've replaced a dinner meal with a veggie juice (and eggs for protein). I would be interested in hearing about some of the juices you make.

      On my first week off I think I'm going to do something similar to transition back onto a normal diet. :)

    Making public posts like this are an invitation for discussion (as you noted) so one must expect comments, questions, criticism in this forum.

    However I must share you frustration with people in 'real life' constantly commenting on eating habits. I have a personal dislike of people commenting on my food, even in a positive way, let alone a negative way. Sometimes you just want to eat without having to discuss/justify yourself.

    Then again considering a frequent lunch of mine at work is 'tuna, water, and frozen vegetables blended together' I probably bring it upon myself.

      Literally blended together? Like a tuna smoothie? I can imagine that would garner quite a few comments ;)

        Yeah, exactly like a tuna smoothie. I'll happily admit that it looks horrific but it actually tastes pretty good.

        Nobody will believe me though!

    I too would be interested in the juices you take. This approach sounds really good for a plateau-breaker (moody and hungry side effects aside). Do you have six (for example) kinds of juices and you have one for breakfast, one midmorning, one for lunch, etc? in a routine? Or do you just go "I feel like kale and apples" and juice it up on the spot?

    Also, are you tracking what you drink when, and calories etc?

      I think I might do a post about this.

      But quickly...

      5 juices a day.

      Breakfast: stuff with a lot of carrot in it and apples/oranges/beetroots
      Brunch: Same thing. I usually blend a massive amount and split it into two drinks
      Lunch: Something greener with celery, cucumber, kale/spinach, apples
      Dinner: Something similarly green with slightly different ingredients
      8pm: Something a bit similar to the carroty one I have for breakfast.

      I tend to get really hungry in the mornings so I need a couple of juices then instead of in the early afternoon.

        Interesting! I hate the taste of celery, cucumber and kale so I've been considering juicing them up as an alternative so I can hold my nose and pour them down the hatch.

        Have you had much, uh, digestive issues? Or did you find after a couple of days of liquid there's just nothing there to become poo?

        And thanks for doing all this research! Of course individual experiences are different blah blah, but this sounds like something I'd like to try.

          Funnily enough Lifehacker writer Chris Jager just asked me about the poo situation.

          I've only done one so far :|

          And it's Wednesday. If you want me to be specific it's a four on the bristol stool chart! Hahaha!

            I immediately and fervently regretted looking up that chart.

    A few years ago I started putting on weight, slowly year after year, so slow I hardly noticed it myself. Earlier this year my 10 yo son took up cross country running and I decided to join him…."I used to be fit, I can do this….easy", I thought. It turned out to be a wakeup call. I was struggling even to get through a 3km run at an easy pace, I used to be able to run 10km in under 45 min…oh, that’s right that was 18 years ago.

    It got me started on a somewhat healthier lifestyle, not cutting out the crap food….just cutting it down. The instant weight loss I experienced has cause my family to start questioning whether I have an eating disorder…..even though I'm still over my ideal weight.

    I feel healthier than ever and I never go hungry. My portion sizes are smaller than before and I always have some fresh fruit close at hand if happen to get hungry. So far I have lost about 8 kg in roughly 6 months and my time over 10 km is now down to 56 min (still a bit more to go). The exercise and eating habits have now become a part of my lifestyle, running in the morning is no longer a chore.

    Even though I can’t see the sense of going on a extreme juice diet, I can certainly relate to the discussion and the criticism.

    Last edited 28/08/13 4:08 pm

    I haven't read lifehacker too much the last few days, so just went back over the articles - seems like an interesting diet, sounds much better than the feast/fast ones (I'm rather against those, but know people who would swear by them).

    Didn't see references to medical advice though - Did you go down that path before jumping in with this? Not to criticize, the diet, but it is a rather extreme, and I know I would have for sure.

    Edit: Also, anyone here read Ars Technica? By strange coincidence, someone there is starting on the liquid diet Soylent. Currently in 'beta'. Not sure if I'd be that brave.

    Last edited 28/08/13 4:16 pm

      Oooh I'll have to follow that on Ars. I love the idea of Soylent (note: not the idea of the taste of Soylent...)

        Heh, well, the day 2 of that was titled "Ars does Soylent, Day 2: My God, what have I gotten myself into"

        Though it's more a 'I'm not hungry, I'm not full, I don't crave solids, I don't crave Soylent".

        I'll be honest though, the Soylent thing is weird. Sure, we *could* get everything we need from milkshakes, but a generic 'here, everyone gets the same input daily' just does NOT work. It's tailored to the person - genetics and activity level. Interesting all the same though..

    I like it how so many people are trying this, as though its actually got any realistic basis in health or anything.

    You think you're helping, but even with repeated 'I am not a doctor' statements, that is not what people are taking away.. They're taking away 'fuck if I do this I can be healthy!'..

    A bad day for actual health for sure, despite it just being an experiment.

    I've always wondered what porridge juice tastes like

    As a dietitian I can tell you this is not healthy. You most likely have lost water and muscle weight and not fat as your body will be holding onto it fearing you going into starvation. Not only is it not healthy but it is also not sustainable. If you have no nutritional or dietetic qualifications I suggest you not promote your fad unhealthy fast and redirect people to professional who know what they are talking about

      Not promoting it, simply documenting it. This isn't 'my fad', just something I'm trying. Also -- I'm only doing it for seven days. Trust me I wouldn't want to do this forever!

    Would be interested to see a post which outlined any scientific evidence for the various drawbacks/negative consequences you mentioned. Surely you investigated if this 'experiment' would really result in any serious health outcomes?

      It's not something I'd feel equipped to write. Yes, I did my own research and I feel comfortable with what I am doing, but I don't want to make any generalised statements about this based on my own experience. I'd rather just report my experience, which is what I've been trying to do.

        You've never written a literature review? Many online journals publish hundreds of scientific reports/articles on a host of topics. As Simone writes above, as a contributer to LH, you may be seen as being an advocate for this sort of diet and should try to quantify the existing knowledge regarding the practice to make people aware of the risks

    Would it be possible for you to post about the recipes you use? I'm 23 and weigh around 85kg, and although I'm not techinically overweight, I feel uncomfortable and unhealthy and would really love to give this a shot.

    Also, have you watched the film 'Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead'? It's about a bloke who tours the States doing what you're doing.

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