It’s a new year, and magazines, blogs, and TV advertisements everywhere are telling us we’ve got to reset our bodies, detox, fill-in-the-blank, with their juice diet or cleanse du jour. While each of these short-term diets may vary slightly, they’re all following the same basic premise: drink only a specific set of ingredients for a specific set of time and your body will “reset”. Before you jump into a juice diet you’ve got to give this a read and get the downlow on what’s really going on with your body when you exclusively drink juice.
Note: Many totally healthy, clean eating, weight lifting, cardio champions out there use fresh-pressed fruit and veggie juices as a daily supplement to absorb a ton of vitamins and minerals. Also, a homemade smoothie is great and can include fruits and veggies as well as clean protein and fat, while keeping all the great fiber in the produce. Were not talking about using juices as a supplement in this piece. We’re talking about going days only consuming juice and expecting dramatic health changes.
First and foremost, it’s not worth your time to pursue any diet that’s not sustainable. You need fat, protein and carbs to survive. It’s a far better use of your time to learn to shop for and prepare clean foods.
We’ve all heard the phrase “reset your body” or something to that effect thrown around, yes? Have you ever wondered what that actually means? What are we resetting? How does resetting one’s body work? Do you even need to be reset in the first place? Let’s cut to the chase; resetting your body is great marketing keyword, it’s not scientific and it’s not accurate. There is no specific definition for a “body reset”. It’s a term that’s used to make you feel like you’re starting over with a clean slate…and who doesn’t love a clean slate? It doesn’t take a genius to make an effective marketer.
Secondly, have you noticed the bulk of these juice cleanses are actually quite high in sugar? Yes, I know, it’s fruit sugar, but guess what? It’s still the same. Fructose (fruit sugar) is getting processed and stored as fat, just the way the white stuff you try to refrain from putting in your morning coffee does. So these “healthy” juice diets shoot you up with a bunch of sugar, a.k.a simple carbs, eliminate vital protein and fat from your diet, and promise big things. Let’s think about this for a minute…
High sugar. Low protein. And this is supposed to be healthy? Really?
But again, clever marketing and, in my opinion,a false sense of “starting over” are all it takes to make these juice diets more popular than ever.
Wondering what the real effects of these juice diets are? Increased insulin levels, followed by fat retention. Decreased energy. Loss of muscle mass leading to a slowing of your metabolism. Perhaps a few pounds lost due to extreme caloric deficiency, but you know what? Those pounds are all going to come back when you’re back to your regular diet. The lost muscle on the other hand? That’s much tougher to bring back.
All of that aside, the bulk of these corporate juice programs are actually quite expensive. One, two, even three hundred dollars isn’t unheard of for one of the really popular cleanses. All that money for a bunch of sugar water in a plastic bottle. This year, let’s try something different. Let’s first accept the notion that there is no silver bullet for weight loss. Drinking a bunch of crap for a week or two isn’t going to magically cause you to drop 20 pounds (and keep it off).
This year, instead of a juice diet, I want you to try something a little different that WILL actually make an impact on your body fat levels, physique, and overall health. I want you to try improving three specific areas of your diet INSTEAD of opting for one of those useless, overpriced, and ineffective juice diets. So check it out..
1. Increase fiber by 20 grams a day. The vast majority of us aren’t getting enough fiber, so let’s make a plan to change that in 2014, shall we? By increasing fiber you’re going to help flush your body of toxins, as well as fat, AND lower your cholesterol in the process. How’s that for “reset”?
2. Up your protein intake. It’s no secret that muscle mass leads to improved metabolism…and improved metabolism leads to a slimmer, leaner, and more athletically built body. To build that lean muscle mass (NOT bulk), you’re going to have to eat enough protein to give those hungry muscles the fuel they need to grow. To do so, I want you to shoot for a MINIMUM of .5 gram protein per pound of body weight. Ramp yourself, and by 8 weeks of increased protein intake, you should be aiming for a solid 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
3. Eat more vegetables. Afraid a juice cleanse is the only way to get all of your essential vitamins and minerals? Get real. Eating a well balanced diet, going especially heavy on the veggies, is going to net you all of those anti-oxidants and other cancer-fighting goodies found in those juice “cleanses”… but again, without all the sugar. Which coincidentally, is what cancer tumors feed on, but I digress. Make a genuine effort to increase your daily vegetable intake by 3-4 servings. This isn’t as tough as it sounds; stock your fridge with plenty of fresh veggies, make extra servings, and take that extra spoonful of zucchini at dinner…it’s not going to kill you. Over time, it’ll become second nature and you’ll wonder why you ever considered a juice cleanse in the first place.
Eating healthy, living healthy, and looking healthy is all about making a few simple changes to your diet and lifestyle. Buying highly processed junk, starving yourself of vital nutrients, and bumping your daily sugar intake isn’t the way to get it done. Being healthy should be simple and part of your everyday lifestyle, not something you stop and start every few week. Make the smart choice this year, skip the juice “cleanse”, and tackle your health and fitness the natural (and smart) way.