Tried & tested: Do juice detoxes really work?

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As part of our series of 2014 challenges, Stephanie Wood attempts to rid her body of bad stuff and lose a bit of weight by trying out the Juice Master ‘5lbs in 5 Days’ detox. Read about her experience below.
On Tuesday 7 January Stephanie wrote…

And so, on 13 January I’ll be embarking on the Juice Master’s 5lbs in 5 Days juice detox to see if I can flush out the bad stuff, surviving only on a diet of fresh juice and hoping I don’t die. Stay tuned…

On Monday 13 January Stephanie wrote…

DETOX DAY 1

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-10-06-34And so it begins. Four juices a day, no ‘food’ in the traditional sense, a ginger shot to start the day and a herbal tea first thing in the morning and last thing at night: this is my life for the next five days.

I woke up this morning feeling excited and daunted in equal measure. I was very much up for the challenge, but all sorts of doubts weighed on my mind: would I be hungry? Would the juices taste disgusting? Would I forget I was meant to be detoxing and absentmindedly reach for a chocolate bar, thus ruining any progress I’d made pre-choc fail? These are the questions I’d been asking myself ever since the ENORMOUS box of fresh fruit and vegetables had arrived at my door on Saturday morning (that’s it, pictured up above). My fridge and cupboards had never seen so much good stuff and, quite honestly, it was all rather intimidating.

But my fears instantly started to ease as I fired up my new juicer (I’m using the Philips Viva, as recommended by his holiness, the Juice Master) and juiced my first drink this morning, a mix of apples, pineapple, spinach, celery, ginger and avocado called Turbo With A Kick. The first thing to hit me was the smell: everything was so fresh that I actually started looking forward to getting going. And, having downed my ginger shot (half an apple and two centimetres of ginger root – intense to say the least), I took my first mouthful of juice and was amazed at just how good it tasted; it was naturally sweet, and I could actually distinguish each of the individual flavours, something I’ve never been able to say of bottled juice. It was the perfect start, and enough to make me think that perhaps the next five days wouldn’t be so bad.

Green juice

By midday, my initial enthusiasm was starting to falter as I was overcome by the onset of tiredness; my body was seemingly very aware of the fact that I’d skipped my usual 9am caffeine kick (although the fact that I’d been up since 5.30am to cover the Golden Globes probably didn’t help). So the fact that my second juice of the day was called The Natural Energiser was very encouraging. Featuring more pineapple and spinach, plus sugar snap peas, fennel and courgette, this one was less sweet than my first, and tangier. The programme prescribes two of the same juices in the afternoon, one at 1pm and the other at 4pm, and by the time each ‘meal time’ arrived I was ravenous. By the time evening swung around I found myself feeling very tired, mildly hungry and more than a little grumpy, so I took myself off to bed at 9.30pm with a cup of chamomile tea and my ’emergency cheat treat’, one of the Juice Master’s juice bars. Here’s hoping the next four days are a little easier. 

On Tuesday 14 January Stephanie wrote…

DETOX DAY 2

Having gone to bed grumpy and unsatisfied, I expected to wake up in a bad mood this morning, but I was actually surprisingly upbeat. Having juiced as I went yesterday, I decide that today I’ll make my juices in advance and take them to work in my Sigg travel bottles. On today’s menu: the Veg Power Smoothie, featuring apples, spinach, kale, lemon, broccoli, cucumber, celery and avocado, and Ruby Tuesday, a blend of pineapple, carrots, beetroot, ginger and basil (and my daily ginger shot, of course). Having been woken by the whirring of my juicer, my housemate Tash oohs and ahhs over how good everything smells in the kitchen, and I admit to feeling a little health smug. But that feeling soon disappears when I realise it’s taken me 35 minutes to make my four juices and I’m going to be late for work.

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-10-07-11Once I finally make it into the office, it’s pretty much time for my first juice of the day, the Veg Power Smoothie. This one tastes similar to yesterday’s Natural Energiser but, with lemon instead of lime, is less zesty, and is perfectly pleasant. Once again, by midday I’m feeling very tired, and find it hard to concentrate on anything other than how long it is until my next hit. I’ve essentially become a juice junkie, so my 1pm and 4pm juices, the Ruby Tuesday, can’t come quick enough. At first the juice tastes good, and the fact that it matches my outfit pleases me unexpectedly (there I am posing for a juicie – juice selfie – on the left), but as my glass goes down I find that all I can taste is the beetroot. I like beetroot, but drinking so much of it is a challenge.

By evening, all I want to do is go home and lie very still on my sofa, but I’ve arranged to meet my old uni friend, Adam, who I see approximately once every two years so I drag myself off to Drink, Shop, Do in King’s Cross. I expect to be a conversation-less detox monster, but to my surprise I’m able to function pretty normally and actually have fun, although I feel guilty about the fact that all I order is a glass of tap water, and have to sneakily drink my final juice of the day from my travel bottle. It’s also pretty difficult to watch Adam wolf down a slice of carrot cake, despite him supportively hiding it behind a menu. I’d really like a slice of cake right now. I make it to 8pm before making my excuses and scuttling off home, where my spirits are buoyed by my housemate telling me that my skin looks good. With no evening meal to look forward to, I go to bed early with my chamomile tea and juice bar again.

On Wednesday 15 January Stephanie wrote…

DETOX DAY 3

I wake up with a headache, and realise that today is The Day. In his 5lbs in 5 Days book, the Juice Master calls today ‘Tetchy Tuesday’, as it’s usually the day that people experience the worst effects of sugar and caffeine withdrawal, with symptoms on top of headaches including tiredness and irritability. I gulp down a large glass of water and the dull ache soon subsides, and I’m able to get excited about the fact that today’s 10am and 7pm juice contains not only BERRIES, but also FAT-FREE YOGHURT and MIXED SEEDS! After two days of more leafy greens and citrus fruits than I’ve ever known, the Berry Banana Crunch feels like something I’d actually eat in my everyday, pre-detox life (albeit atop a stack of pancakes).

And it’s every bit as good as I’d hoped: thick, creamy and totally filling. My second juice, The Green Refresher, is a dark green colour and resembles pond water, but once again I’m surprised at how delicious it is – the mix of pear, apple, spinach and broccoli is light and fresh.

Berries

The Juice Master’s book also recommends that you do two 30-minute sessions of exercise a day while detoxing, something I’ve just not been able to face so far. But Wednesday night is netball night and, as tonight is the first match of the season for my team, Cool Runnings, I decide to turn up and see how it goes. My team-mates all look a little concerned when I tell them that all I’ve consumed in the last three days is juice, but my sugar and caffeine withdrawal symptoms have started to subside, replaced with a natural energy and enthusiasm. Going into the match I feel spritely and focused and, although I start to feel exhausted by the third 10-minute quarter, I feel pretty great at the end of the game – and even pick up player of the match! There’s something in this juicing thing… 

On Thursday 16 January Stephanie wrote…

DETOX DAY 4

After victory at netball the night before and my three-day ‘comedown’ from sugar and caffeine withdrawal behind me, I expect to wake up this morning experiencing the ‘natural high’ the Juice Master talks about in his book, but I actually sleep in. However, laziness aside, I’m definitely starting to feel and see the benefits of my juicing programme – my always-been-a-tad-too-tight jeans feel a little looser, I feel and look leaner, my skin is glowing, and my blemishes are clearing up faster than usual. Juicing is starting to feel like something I could work into my everyday life, although my morning ginger shot isn’t getting any easier to swallow. And, while my first juice of the day, Nature’s Super Blend, doesn’t taste too different to others I’ve had this week (apples, spinach, broccoli? Check, check, check), my second – called Minty Sunshine – is a gorgeous, refreshing mix of oranges, carrots, ginger and fresh mint.

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One of the most common questions I’ve been asked by everyone – colleagues, friends, family, social media acquaintances – this week is, ‘Aren’t you hungry?’ The honest answer? Yes, a little. But the feeling is something I’d call manageable hunger. My body is noticing that I don’t have that just-polished-off-a-bowl-of-pasta feeling of fullness, and psychologically I miss having a proper meal to look forward to, but I’m not at the point where all I can think about is how hungry I am. In fact, I find today that my body has adjusted to my juicing regime; I don’t feel ravenous when my allotted juice times come around, and it takes me two hours to get through my 4pm juice. On top of that, my concentration levels are much better than they have been, and I have a pretty productive day.

Having purposefully made no plans for this evening yet feeling more awake than I have the last few days, I find myself wondering how to fill my evening when an idea pops into my head: I’ll go for a run. Now, let’s be clear: I am not a runner. I’m a firm believer that working out should be fun and shouldn’t actually feel like exercise, which is why I go to Zumba, play tennis and, of course, netball. Pounding the pavement – or worse, the treadmill – has always left me thoroughly bored but, with the Juice Master promising that exercising during the detox can push weight loss from 5lbs to 7lbs or even 10lbs, I decide to head out for a 30-minute run (in the rain, no less – what is this detox DOING to me?). The Juice Master recommends two minutes jogging to warm up, followed by 26 minutes running at a rate that’s just above your comfort level, and finally two minutes of going flat out. As I reach my final two minutes, I find myself thinking about how well I’ve done to come this far on the detox, and it spurs me on to sprint all the way home. 

On Friday 15 January Stephanie wrote…

DETOX DAY 5

It’s the LAST DAY! HURRAH! I can’t actually believe I’ve made it this far – I honestly thought I’d cave and give in to food cravings at some point, but the truth is I’ve not really missed eating. The whole experience has definitely been easier than I thought it would be on day one.

screen-shot-2016-10-13-at-10-10-16However, there’s still one more day of juices to get through. I’ll admit that my first juice of the day, Pear ‘n’ Parsnip, didn’t sound particularly appetising, but it was actually one of the tastiest juices on the programme (yep, it’s that glass of beige on the left). Sadly, the same can’t be said of my second and third juice, the Sweet Beet Smoothie – despite having mixed berries in it, the taste was overwhelmingly beetroot-y, and I struggled to finish all of it. The beet juices have definitely been my least favourite.

As I sit down to my final juice of not only the day, but the whole detox, I open my copy of 5lbs in 5 Days at the chapter entitled The Rough After Plan. Most of what the Juice Master’s post-detox recommendations are pretty obvious: swap a diet mentality for a freedom mentality, where no food is off the table, but make good choices most of the time; avoid refined fat, sugar and salt as much as possible; apply a low HI (human intervention) principle to your diet; eat when you’re hungry and drink plenty of water. But it’s the chapter called Be Limitless that really gets me thinking. In it, he talks of the power of momentum, highlighting how great it is to make it through five days of juicing, and how, by making it this far, you’ve given yourselfthe best possible chance of turning things around for good. Given how good I’m feeling, I make a mental oath to incorporate juicing into my everyday life.

As the night draws in, I start to get *incredibly* excited about the prospect of eating actual solid food again – and, of course, about weighing myself at the gym the next day. Stay tuned for the final results!

On Wednesday 22 January Stephanie wrote…

POST-DETOX

So here I am, five days after successfully finishing my detox, and I’m feeling pretty darn good. But I’m aware that all you really want to know is how much weight I lost, so let’s start there. On weighing myself at the gym on Saturday, after a breakfast of just one slice of toast and a hard-boiled egg (partly because I didn’t want to fill up pre-weigh-in, partly because I just wasn’t that hungry – honest!), I was pretty pleased to discover that I’d lost five pounds as promised – the Juice Master was true to his word.

juice

Of course, once you’ve achieved weight loss, the challenge then is maintaining it. Which is why, spurred on not only by my reduced weight but also the many other benefits I’ve experienced – better skin, thicker hair, increased energy and an all-together perkier sense of wellbeing – I’ve started to work juicing into my daily diet, substituting one meal a day (usually breakfast) for a juice. Sure, I’ve treated myself since I’ve been ‘back on food’ – a cheeseburger over the weekend, a chocolate bar at the cinema – but I’m finding those high fat/sugar/salt ‘treats’ don’t feel quite as good as they used to. Instead, what now tastes amazing is fresh fruit and veg; the avocado I had with my poached eggs and toast on Sunday morning was easily the best thing I ate all day. It seems as though my body has really attuned itself to the good stuff.

And so, while the detox may have ended, I’m treating this very much as a beginning – the start of a happier, healthier, juice-enriched me. Viva the juice!

Juice Master’s 5lbs in 5 Days, £14.99; Philips Viva Juicer, £127; Juice Master’s 5 Day Freshbox, £69.99 including delivery.

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