Advocates of short duration juice fasts suggest that the discipline of restricting dietary intake to freshly juiced fruits and vegetables for a specific period of time offers a number of exceptional health benefits, including enhanced fitness, extra energy and loss of excess body fat. Does it work? T.J. Murphy, Editorial Director for Triathlete Magazine and Inside Triathlon, fires up a juicer and gives it a try.
Written by: T.J. Murphy
Last week I chatted with my co-worker, Lars Finanger, about the role of juice fasting in the lives of some professional cyclists. Lars was telling me that some take up a juice cleanse of sorts in the deep off-season, as a method of revitalizing their bodies from the carnage of a long season on the bike. In particular Lars told me they use the juice cleanse to clean the physiological house from the countless simple sugar calories ingested during training and racing—the processed gels, the drinks, the bars—designed to move energy into muscle tissue as rapidly as possible but leave a tooth-decay residue that require some spring cleaning.
That makes sense to me. One of the traps triathletes (myself included) can fall into is the mantra that because you train a lot “you can eat anything you want.” Well, to a point. My personal anecdotal experience tells me that sure, you can get away with some pretty raunchy food choices but it you really want to feel good, sleep well and train like madman than you should base your diet on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, chicken and so forth.
But it’s easy to slide a little sideways when work heats up or life gets stressful. As I’ve mentioned before, I see this as perhaps the core value of a juice fast: it hits your dietary reset button. After a period of super-healthy nutrition the less likely you’ll want Doritos to be part of your daily diet.
This Wednesday will be my first experiment in a series of juice fasts. Unlike the cyclists Lars told me about, I’ll be doing it while holding down a basic training schedule. Wednesday is my rest day with nothing more than an easy 45 minute recovery run. Per the advice I’m following in Dr. Sandra Cabot’s book, “The Juice Fasting Bible,” I’ll start the day with a glass of water spiked with a bit of lemon juice and then follow with a morning, afternoon and evening juice, each approximately 30 ounces. On Wednesday I’ll report on my foray into juiceville.