Juicehacker: One Month Later

Sunday morning, September 29. I step on the scales. 65.5kg. It's been four weeks since the end of my juice fast. For an entire week I consumed nothing but juice and water. A hellacious, strange task. I lost 5kgs in the process.

Yo-yo picture from Shutterstock

But that wasn't the end. Too many dieting 'success' stories don't include the depressing epilogue: a sharpish return to the start weight, pounds piled on, bad habits resumed. In my last Juicehacker post I promised to update a month after, to check in and answer one simple question: was it worth it? Was my juice fast worthwhile in the long term? That's a complicated question, but I'll attempt to give an honest answer.

In the four weeks since my fast ended I've transitioned back onto solid foods. It was a slow process. I began with raw vegetables on day 1. Moved onto soup on day 2. On day 3 I tried eggs. On day 4 I gave salmon a bash. I remained disciplined. I ate no junk food, ate zero chocolate. I exercised frequently. By the end of the week, I was back onto solids 100 per cent.

Then came the next three weeks. I ate clean, I exercised. It was a strange journey -- perhaps even stranger than the fast itself -- with some unexpected, confusing twists.

One week after the fast. Despair. I stand on the scales. 67.5kg. It doesn't make any fucking sense. In one single week I had put on half the weight I had lost during the fast. All that effort, all that discipline, all that work for nothing. Despite the exercise, despite sticking rigidly to healthy foods -- salads, fish, minimal carbs -- I had been slamming the weight on.

During the first seven days of solid food I exercised religiously. My main motivation for losing weight was to improve strength-weight ratio for climbing, but I focused my effort on cardio. I was terrified of losing the strength gains I had made with the lost weight so I wanted to maintain that. I didn't climb at all -- I walked. That's it. Makes sense, or zero sense at all depending on your perspective. Stop doing the thing you love to maintain the weight you lost to help do the thing you love -- great thinking Einstein.

So the weight piled on and I had no idea why.

With hindsight, I have a couple of explanations. The first is obvious: before I had no food in my stomach to digest, now I was eating solids and there was additional food (and weight) in my system waiting to be pooped out. And here's the thing: there wasn't much pooping going on. About halfway through my fast I squeezed out a few number 2s here and there. But there was a point, during my first week on solids where I hadn't passed a stool for seven days.

Seven days.

And when it did come out? Well, let's just say it was a strenuous effort on my part and leave it at that.

So I was heavily constipated, but there was another issue: my metabolism had slowed to a crawl. It made sense when I thought about it. I actually lost all of my weight during the first four days of the juice fast. In the final three days it was almost as if my body had gotten used to the amount of fuel I was putting in my body and slowed the machine down a little.

When I started putting all this solid food into my body, it had no idea how to deal with it.

I felt as though there was practically nothing I could do to solve that issue but I did get proactive. To get my metabolism back up to scratch I tried a few different things: I started climbing again, but continued with cardio on my rest days. I started eating way more for breakfast, but a little bit less for dinner. I drank more water. I drank peppermint tea. And I continued to avoid chocolate and soft drinks.

Over the next two weeks, the weight fell off again. In one week I was back at a steady 66kgs, now I usually sit at around 65.5kg.

Little known fact: I wasn't alone in my juice fast. When I told my brother in-law I was attempting it, he immediately wanted to get on board. He wanted to lose weight and the idea of enduring this difficult task with someone he knew felt like a great idea, for the both of us. He committed to five days on the juice fast and also lost 5 kgs.

Two weeks later: he had put all the weight back on.

I'm sure if you asked him the reason why he would answer honestly: he immediately went back to same eating habits he had before the fast. He was less careful transitioning back onto solids, he didn't exercise regularly.

I went to the opposite extreme. I had felt the difference in my climbing with the lost weight, and I didn't want to go back. I had a real motivation. I saw the juice fast not as an end goal, but as a start point, and I ran with it.

I ate relatively healthy before the juice fast, but I had a few bad habits: I tended to snack on chocolate throughout the day. I drank a lot of Coke Zero -- five cans a day was a regular occurrence. In preparation for the fast I gave up chocolate, quit caffeinated drinks and stopped eating meat. It was a living hell. The cravings were intense. In many ways the preparation week was more difficult than the juice fast itself.

But after the prep week -- and the subsequent juice week -- I found that I no longer wanted chocolate or caffeine at all. Almost as if the fast had completely reset my taste buds and cravings, giving me a new understanding of what actual hunger was. Those two weeks had given me a different perspective on the foods I was eating and reasons I had for eating them. More than the raw kilograms lost, that might have been the most valuable part of taking part in the juice fast.

I haven't eaten chocolate or any kind of refined sugar in over six weeks now. I haven't consumed a single caffeinated drink. That's been a conscious choice on my part, but remaining disciplined in those choices has been directly impacted by my decision to go on the juice fast. It made sticking to those choices infinitely easier. My current lifestyle is a healthier one because I did the juice fast; I have absolutely no doubt of that.

But finally, the big question: was it all worth it? Was it worth the pain, stress and difficulty of only consuming juice for an entire week? It's a difficult one to parse. I lost a lot of weight during the fast, but would I have lost the same amount of weight by just eating healthily the way I am now? Possibly.

But would I have been able to maintain my current disciplined habits without the diet reset that a juice fast provides? That's the question that muddies the waters.

I am tempted to claim that the end justifies the means. I am at my target weight, I am eating healthier than before. I'm climbing stronger than ever. All my goals have been met. Mission accomplished I guess.


There's a but.

If I had any advice for people considering a juice diet it would be this: make your fast the start, not the end point. Be careful how you transition. Commit yourself to applying the hard lessons learned in the longer term -- don't squander that opportunity. It's shockingly easy to return to old habits but a juice fast provides a golden opportunity: it allows you to break habits you previously thought were unbreakable. That's a powerful thing.


    Thanks for the update, was really good to hear how it all turned out in the long run :).

    I have never heard of these "fad" diets being any good in the long term.
    Eating healthy and exercise is the only long term way to loose weight and gain strength.

    Its great you went to such detail on it all, but it just goes to show that these sorts of things are great for short term gains but long term its just worthless.

      I disagree. I think in this case it was helpful, but only helpful if you apply what you learned in the long term.

        Oh i agree, as something that helped get you into good habits it worked wonders (as far as you mentioned above).
        However, as a diet, it didnt give you a net positive outcome. Sure it gave you good habits but the reasoning behind diets like that is to get you to loose weight and keep it off. That one didnt (unless i am missing something)

          Yeah, I'm not sure. It's super hard to say I think.

          Part of me think that a lot of my weight 'loss' was just dehydrated muscle cells, and the initial weight 'gain' was just me going to back to what my proper weight was (if you get what I mean).

          The weight I am at now, I just see it as having lost a little extra weight from my current habits.

          I do think I did lose a bit of weight overall from the Juice stuff, but not a net loss of 5kgs, more of a 2-3 in the long term.

          But it's all guesswork. I think you're right though: the best result was the habits I gained from it.

            Has someone watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead recently?

            It did the guy in that a world of good.

        I think your comment on resetting taste buds and finding what "real" hunger was is right on the money. I used to not give two cents about what I ate, some days it would be a bacon and egg roll for brekky, pizza hut for lunch and kfc for dinner... I just ate when I was "hungry".

        I tried a bunch of approaches to losing weight and some were better than others. The main thing that stuck was when my body adjusted to not eating crud. I didn't feel as hungry and my taste buds did a reset on things (I remember not even being able to taste sugar in coke.... and now that's a ridiculous concept).

        So in a sense the fad diets were just a springboard to getting to a place where you can think "Ok I got this now, it's definitely a lifestyle change from here on". The best part is it's really easy to not fall into bad traps once you get the ball rolling (not that you were but still) :)

    2 steps forward and 1 step back.....

    I stand by my previous comment.

    Mark Serrels, you are the highly entertaining, but informative Beaker to Lifehackers Dr. Bunsen Honeydew.

    Next week, I fully anticipate reading about how you embark on cooking your food using only sunlight and a magnifying glass..

      I totally had to Google that reference! But thanks!

      And hey, that's a cool idea!

      (I think my next challenge is going to be something to do with language, but I'm not sure what yet...)

    The problem with fruit (and especially fruit juice) is that it spikes your insulin and eventually causes fat storage (http://gizmodo.com/5709913/4+hour-body-+-the-slow+carb-diet).

    I think the key to the sustained fat loss is: "I haven’t eaten any kind of refined sugar in over six weeks now." I took out the chocolate part, but chocolate is full of refined sugar anyway. There's a lot of material being written now about the effects of refined sugar in our diets, I find it a bit scary... "Sweet Poison" is a great read if anyone is interested (and no I didn't write it or know the person who did)

      'Sweet Poison' is a hilariously incorrect book written by a guy with zero medical, scientific or nutritional background which aimed to scare dummies into buying things. Basically every single 'argument' he made (generally through cherry picking research and misconstruing outcomes he presents out of context) has been thoroughly debunked.

      It's about as informative as a Dan Brown novel.


      He also helpfully released an equally clueless book about oils.

      Last edited 30/09/13 2:51 pm

    Liked your "report-back-to-us" article here. Can't say I saw your article about you getting on to the juice diet though.

    I recently tried something extreme, and while not the most ideal attempt at weight loss; it was the same experience that you had in regards to shedding and then it coming back on even when you eat well and exercise....however, I haven't really stacked it back on, I've only hit a wall of weight that goes up and down weekly.

    About 3 weeks ago I jumped on Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite weight control pills. Because I wanted to get the most out of these things I hardly ate at all. In fact, I only ate a bit at dinner time. During the day I had water, protein shakes, veggie shake supplements and these weight loss pills. First week I lost 2.8kg. Second week I lost 500 grams. I started on 94.1 and my lowest was 90.3. Yesterday I was 93.5. I weigh myself in the same attire (undies) at the same time (before/after shower in the morning) daily; but I only record what I weigh on a Wednesday as that's the day I started on the Elite pills.

    I had never felt so energetic, alive and awake in my life.

    But after week two the weight didn't really disappear the way it had in week 1 and so then I started incorporating good foods back in to my diet. I was only having fruit in the day, water/protein shakes were my liquids and that was it. I go to the gym or play soccer all 5 working days at lunch so I was quite baffled and confused about why I had hit such a wall.

    My complete guess without any research is that perhaps my body gets used to something quickly. Maybe if I eat well for one week then go all hungry bushman the next week, incorporated with exercise and alternating the eating patterns... I may shock my body into some form of constant weight loss.

    I have tried a juice diet before but did not commit enough. My mum has been onto slow juicing for like 10 years so I know all the benefits of it. I just need to give it another whirl.

    Last edited 30/09/13 4:09 pm

    And for anyone interested in juicing. The doco to watch is "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead". Fella from Bondi, Sydney made a great vid on his day to day experience with the juice diet for 60 days I think and ended up helping some obese Americans along the way.

    67.5kg even sounds quite light.. how tall are you?? I would have thought 75 to 80 kg would have been average and looking to lose some kilos when you get over 85..?

      67.5KG is about average and for some (based mainly on height) is too heavy.

      For a female, 75 to 80 kg is way too heavy.
      80 - 100kg is where a guy should be for a decent weight/muscle to height ratio (being a height of 6').

      Not sure where you got the idea that 75 - 80kg was the ideal weight for a woman?

        Mark is almost definitely a man.

        Last edited 01/10/13 5:05 pm

      Just re read key elements of the article and the author's name...
      Not sure why, but when I read through the article the first time, it sounded as though it was from a woman's perspective.
      Clearly the author is male and I should adjust my comment.

      I stand by most of what I said but assuming the article was written by a female, I apologize.

    Could you upload/post the jucies you used/ingredients/times of consumption? Interested - but what to see how you went about it.

    If only there's some way you could have known ahead of time!

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