It is easier to find a consensus as to what to not eat, as opposed to what you should eat, when it comes to juice fasting. As far as the don’ts – no solid food, no meat, no dairy products, and no grains. Smoking, alcohol, and caffeine are also not recommended. Beyond this there is a range of ideas about what kind of drinks you should actually drink. If you added up all the things juice fasting advocates suggest you could have, the list would include: fresh fruit and vegetable juice, herbal teas, vegetable broth, Barley Green, wheatgrass juice, and frozen juice popsicles. Few would agree with all these options.
Some people fast for extended periods of time (many days or weeks) and drink limited quantities of fruit juice. At the other side of this spectrum are so called juice fasts where all kinds of fruit and vegetable juices are ingested, with no intent of limiting total calorie intake. These types of fasts are often undertaken as a body detoxification diet and, in terms of the regime followed, are perhaps more properly thought of as a diet rather than a fast. Obviously your aims and goals will play a part in what and how much you juice and ingest.
How is Juice Fasting Practiced?
Spiritual or health reasons can be the driving motivation for this type of fasting. The approach one takes as to what they ingest is largely dependant on the purpose of the fast.
As a tool to go on a very restrictive multiple day fast some people will opt to drink some fruit or vegetable juice instead of limiting themselves to water. This can be thought of as a variant of water fasting, as the goal is not so much to benefit from the juice as much as it is to not completely cut oneself off from calories and nutrients. People that undertake longer term fasts and lightly imbibe juice typical practice this kind of fasting for spiritual reasons.
The second reason for practicing a juice fast is to improves one’s health. The main motivation here is typically to stop taking in solid food, give the digestive tract a rest, and allow the body to eliminate toxins in the blood and tissues. Juice fasting in this manner is quite different from a water fast. Rather than deny yourself almost all forms of food and energy most detox juice fasts do not restrict the amount of juice you can have in a day.
Juice Fasting for Health Reasons
Juice fasting will have real and noticeable effects on your body but individual experiences do vary. We are all different and enter into a fast with our unique dietary habitats that have preceded the fast itself. If you drink coffee everyday and stop when you are fasting, for example, you may have headaches as a result of caffeine withdrawal. On the other hand you might not get headaches at all and have periods when you feel you are experiencing heightened mental acuity.
The amount of time one spends fasting will make a large difference in how different effects actually influence how you feel. A fast of a few days may create a lot of unpleasant side effects like bad breath, a coated tongue, and other problems (see below). People that fast for longer, many days or even weeks, say that many early to arise problems do go away and give way to beneficial effects.
What are some Benefits of Juice Fasting?
Some argue that juice fasting is more beneficial, from the perspective of your body being able to cleanse itself, than a water only fast. It is true that the juices of fruits and vegetables provide relatively pure nutrients and, when juiced, are being ingested without the need for your body to digest solid food. How this actually influences the physiological effects of fasting is debated by doctors and fasting advocates. Authors of some juice fasting books claim, sometimes dubiously, that juice fasting delivers a amazing range of health benefits.
Here are a few of the benefits that some people do experience:
the elimination of toxins
reduced allergy symptoms
healing and cleaning of the digestive system
mental acuity improvements
improvements in skin tone
Will there be any fasting side effects?
There are numerous minor discomforts you may notice during juice fasting. These include:
constipation or diarrhea
acne or other skin eruptions
changes in sleep patterns
aches and pains
coated tongue – a result of your body shedding toxins and cleansing itself
headaches – possibly the result of withdrawal from caffeine or a reduction in salt or sugar consumption
If any of these symptoms rise above the level of a minor problem or occasional discomfort, you may need to seek medical attention and/or end your fast.
General Juice Fasting Tips
The first point applies to juice fasting for detoxification. The other points relate to either calorie restricted or juice detoxification plans.
Drink a reasonable amount of Juice.
How much should you drink? A gallon of juice may seem like a lot but it is not when you think about it as your food for a day. Some folks will limit themselves to not much more than this for a day. This is fine and, if fasting is what you are after, is probably not a bad goal. If you are fasting over many days your hunger will wax and wane through the course of different days so you may drink more juice on some days and less on others. Try to moderate how much you drink if you have a tendency to eat to make yourself feel good or simply to change your mood.
Do still drink some water during your juice fasting.
Drink Fresh Juice
Bottled, canned, and “fresh” packaged juices are almost all treated (pasteurized) or added to ( sugars, salts, flavorings, etc) in one way or another. Fresh juice is best. Large metropolitan areas may have juice bars or food stores that make fresh fruit and vegetables juices. If you do need to use some form of prepared juice try to use the closest to fresh as possible. There are some juices you can buy in cartons that are pure juice. Frozen fresh, pure juices are also good as they typically retain more of their nutrients than with other packaging methods. Juice drinks, like V8, might seem appealing but can contain a lot of salt or other additives (i.e. ingredients added to the juice).
Acidic Juices may cause discomfort.
Acidic juices (grapefruit, orange, tomato) may bother your digestive system during a fast, causing you stomach aches or other minor discomfort. Some people though do not experience any trouble with such juices.