Are you detox-curious? After months of wondering what a detox felt like, looked like and smelt like, I finally took the plunge the other week, faced my “hangry” fears and embraced a bit of detoxification, opting for a two day juice detox with Genie Juice.
Now, depending on whether you’re in the hardcore detox camp, the cynic camp or the detox-fearing camp, your response to my 2-day juice detox will likely either be “Two days is not a detox pffttt”, “You went on a detox WHY? You know it’s just a marketing scam” or “OMG you went without solid food for TWO WHOLE DAYS?!?!”
Whichever camp you’re in, I bet you’re all still a little curious about the whys, the whats and the hows. Here are a few thoughts on my detox experience.
1. Truth is, there is actually little real research on the benefits of detox…
There is, on the other hand, a lot of research/ articles telling you how bad and unnecessary various detoxes are for you. Here’s the general vein of arguments coming out of the negative Nelly camp:
- our bodies are “designed” to detox, through organs such as the liver and kidneys
- a juice detox is in fact just a low calorie diet and any weight loss is water weight
- juice detoxes affect the metabolism and can do more harm than good in the long run
Funnily enough, a lot of the naysayers I read about have never been on a detox themselves. Ironic, huh? It’s very difficult to really get the truth these days without some sort of bias (and for the record, I didn’t get my detox for free – I paid for it!)
On the other hand, all the positive information I have received on the benefits of detox have come from friends who are detox converts after having such positive and mindblowing experiences.
But, better than all of that, and despite the fact that the true benefits of a detox are apparently felt after 3 – 7 days, these were the benefits I personally felt after my 2 day detox:
- My usual 3pm exhaustion slump (seriously, in the past I’ve found myself falling asleep in meetings) has gone
- Uncontrollable “hangry-ness” when not being able to eat when I want to has definitely simmered. In fact, these days I am much better at handling being hungry
- General increased wellbeing
- Greater awareness of what I was putting into my body: a literal health kick in the butt
- Weight loss: I lost around 1.5kg, even three weeks on. (But I think that’s not so much from just the two day detox, but the healthy eating bender I went on the day leading up to it and my inability to really eat properly after the detox/ decreased interest in food. I ate very lightly for about five days, including the two day detox.
My point? I think so many people “poo poo” the detox concept because it’s kinda scary… I mean, why would we give up food if we didn’t have to? And, I mean, “my diet’s not THAT bad, right?”
Well, I’ll give you some credit. It’s probably not that bad, but sure there isn’t room for improvement? And why not give yourself a break? Detoxification and fasting has been a cleansing tool in many religions for centuries.
Plus, who SAID we had to eat three meals a day? So many of us just eat on autopilot without pausing to think about what goes in our traps. While the body is an amazing system capable of many things, I, for one, don’t believe we really use our body to its full potential. The more I think about it, looking back, food has never been more convenient, more available and more over-consumed than today.
As one of my very lovely friends Denvy said, “Just as my legs need a rest after a hard weekend of running, my liver and internal organs need a rest too”. Thinking about the concept of detox practically it sort of makes sense to me. Even though our bodies are amazing and are BUILT to detoxify us through our livers and kidneys… who really doesn’t think they don’t ask a little much of themselves every now and then?
It’s a personal choice, but my overarching comment is this: don’t bag it ’til you try it.
2. Be warned: a juice detox is not a wholly pleasant experience
While I believe there are benefits, it wasn’t smooth sailing. I didn’t have any headaches, but I just spent the whole time feeling a little lightheaded and just generally a bit out of it. At one point I snapped at a client on the phone, at another point I felt like dancing around the room shouting at the top of my lungs,“Yes, I’m doing this! High Five! I feel AMAYYYYZZINNNGG”.
I did my juice detox during a working week. Fail. Optimally, you should do it during a “quiet time” and even better if on holidays.
3. You do get hungry on a detox
Don’t believe what they say, you do get hungry on a detox. Particularly if you’re active, like me. I think for everyone it’s different and it depends on your metabolism, but I was annoyingly hungry at around lunch time on my first day. But if you push through, you can make it. By day two, you’re not really too hungry any more. By day three you’re over food altogether. Ha!
A juice detox is more than a physical exercise – it’s a mental one. Do you have the sticking power and the mental control to battle it out?*
4. You CAN exercise on a detox
Here’s the thing: it’s not that you’re not eating, you are. You’re just ingesting less calories and working off different type of energy than what you’re used to. During your detox, your body will work through it’s carbohydrate/ glycogen stores and then switch to your fat stores for energy. The average person carries about 35,000 calories worth of fat – and that will last you through the detox and beyond. So once I got my head around this concept, stopped telling myself I was hungry and switched into the mindset that I was OK and had enough “fuel” in my body to sustain me, I actually found myself feeling quite energetic.
Our bodies are clever little things and are incredibly adaptive. But when we are guzzling food everyday, our body never gets a chance to use those systems or get in tune with those adaptive mechanisms.
That being said, it’s probably not wise to exercise on a juice detox (and I’m not a doctor or anything… so don’t listen to me!). My biggest mistake was not really making many changes in my normal active life the days I did my detox, which in part contributed to my minor failures!*
5. I think it’s important to learn how to deal with being hungry
Like I said, one of the best things I learnt out of the experience was how to deal with being hungry.
Our lives are full of instant gratification when it comes to food, with all the convenience of the 24 hour 7/11s, cookie jars, vending machines and, of course, the houselhold fridge. During the experience I learnt a little more discipline and also that, without food, I was not going to keel over and die.
6. Juice detox - good for long distance runners?
As someone who runs long distances, I need to be better at running in my fat burning zone and in a caloric deficient state. So, I actually felt the experience was incredibly beneficial for my running.
In fact, I went to an interval running session on the first day and felt awesome. Yes, I wasn’t pushing myself as hard as much as I might ordinarily, but the experience of training on a juice detox versus eating normall were tangible -I sort of can’t explain it. It just felt different. I was less tired between sets, my recovery seemed so fast and I was more energetic during my runs. My friend Nic (who was a lot stricter on the juice detox than me) went for a run on the second day of his detox and said it was the best run he’s had in a long while. Other ultra runners have said to me that they’ve had some of their best runs a week after a full detox, smashing their personal records.
I don’t know the science – whether it’s because the body learns to fuel itself better or because their cleaner and working more efficiently – but the positive feedback and personal experiences definitely made it seem worthwhile for me to try a juice detox out again.
6. So yes, I’d do it again. But I’d do it differently.
Next time, I would come into it being better equipped with knowledge about what to expect and also with a bit more willpower. In this sense, I actually felt the 2 day detox was a good thing for me, as it was achievable and gave me a good taste of what to expect for any furture juice detoxes.
Next time, I will also plan to do it during a down time and not when I’ve got lots going on in my personal/working/sporting life. Although your body is an incredible thing, you’re asking a lot of it during the experience, so show that body some love.
* Truth? Mmmm I sort of cheated, but within my “parametres for success” according to health coach Megan. I ate two bananas, a punnet of raspberries and a handful of nuts over the two days. I also did a yoga class, 45 minutes of interval runs and walked up the Peak for two hours. Yeah, I know, I’m hyperactive, what can I say?
Interested in juice detoxes in Hong Kong?
Genie Juice www.thegenieconcept.com
Punch Detox www.punchdetox.com
Detox Retreats/ workshops
Flex HK studios: 6 Day Detox Program with Michelle Ricaille 4-9 November 2013 http://www.flexhk.com/promotions-events/