There are many different techniques available for individuals who are attempting to lose a significant amount of weight. One technique that has become somewhat popular in recent years is the juice fast. A juice fast is a diet that consists of consuming nothing more than the juice from fresh fruits and vegetables made from a juicer. The belief is that by consuming nothing but juice, the body will cleanse itself of impurities, fat and toxins, resulting in rapid weight loss.
Juice fasting is a controversial, crash diet that is passionately recommended by some medical professionals and strongly discouraged by others. When done properly and under medical supervision, a juice fast may help you to lose weight. However, it can be a dangerous weight loss tool if not done correctly; therefore, it should never be attempted without guidance from a health care professional. Both advocates and opponents of juice fasting agree that there are some significant pros and cons associated with juice fasting for weight loss.
The Benefits Of Juice Fasting For Weight Loss:
Rapid Weight Loss
There’s no denying that juice fasting is an effective way to shed a large number of pounds in a very short period of time. Individuals can lose as much as 20 pounds in one week when they start a juice fast. The amount of weight lost is relative to the percentage of body fat that the individual has in comparison to his weight. For example, an individual who is severely overweight and has 80 pounds or more to lose is likely to see a large loss of up to 20 pounds within the first two weeks. However, someone who is only slightly overweight with only 20 pounds to lose is not going to see the entire 20 pounds disappear as quickly.
One of the benefits of this rapid weight loss is that people are more likely to stick with a diet plan if they see results. Dropping a significant amount of weight immediately can encourage people to keep going.
One of the most substantial benefits of juice fasting is that it can break your food addictions. When juicing, your body receives a break from foods that are highly refined, processed, loaded with sugar and full of harmful toxins. When these types of foods are consumed on a regular basis, the body becomes accustomed to them. Many food ingredients, such as sugar and caffeine, contain highly addictive qualities. For this reason, simply making the decision to not eat foods with these ingredients anymore often doesn’t work because physical withdrawal symptoms can kick in. During a juice fast, these foods are kept out of the body long enough to give you a chance to break the addiction.
(For more information on sugar addiction, read Addicted To Sugar: Should You Be Worried?.)
More Effective Digestion
During a juice fast, major organs undergo a detoxification process, including the colon. When the colon is cleansed, more effective digestion occurs. Toxic chemicals that adhere to the lining of the intestines are flushed out of the body. The intestines can then better absorb the nutrients from whole foods. This will improve your overall health, boost your weight loss, and actually make you crave those healthier foods instead of unhealthy, processed foods.
(To read more about ways to detoxify your body, check out Body Cleansing Diets And Foods To Help You Detox.)
When food is digested more efficiently, the body requires less energy for digestion. The result is an improved metabolism that will continue to burn calories even when you are at rest. This makes you feel more energetic, and provides you with the energy you need to exercise and enjoy other physical activities.
The Risks Of Juice Fasting For Weight Loss
The rate of metabolism varies among different individuals. Metabolism is the rate at which food is converted into energy by the body. Although genetics play a large role in an individual’s metabolism, there are other factors that can affect the rate at which your body converts food to energy. Some factors that can affect metabolism include:
- The amount of food that you consume in a day
- The amount of food you consume at each meal
- How many meals you consume in a day
- How often you eat
- The types of food that you are eating
- How much exercise you get every day
When an individual undergoes a juice fast, the body essentially goes into a starvation mode. Because there is not a large amount of calories being consumed, the body will not be able to produce much energy. This causes the metabolism to slow down significantly. This decreased metabolism results in less food being needed to convert food to energy. This effect can continue after the juice fast is completed, which means that when you are back to eating regular foods, your slowed metabolism will convert less of those foods to energy. What is not converted to energy will be stored in the body as fat.
Can Lead To Depression
Although a juice fast is associated with improved mental status and an elevation in mood, it can also have the opposite effect on some individuals. When blood sugar levels drop, your mood can drop along with it. This, when coupled with the stress of not being able to eat comfort foods, can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. If for some reason you cheat during the juice fast, feelings of guilt can contribute to depression.
May Cause Dehydration
When undergoing a juice fast, the body experiences a decrease in calories and healthy nutrients. This can lead to several unpleasant side effects such as:
- A drop in blood sugar levels
- Decreased energy
Dehydration is one of the most serious negative side effects associated with juice fasting or any form of extreme dieting. In addition to the fluids that we acquire from drinking liquids, some of the foods we eat also contain large amounts of fluids, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and soups.
The flesh of fruits and vegetables is what contains fiber and adds bulk to the diet. When juicing, none of that bulk is consumed. The liquids are able to flush through the body rapidly, which can sometimes lead to dehydration. If you experience symptoms of dehydration when participating in a juice fast, contact your doctor immediately. Dehydration symptoms include:
- Extreme thirst
- Dry mouth
- Dry or cracked lips
- Decreased urination
- Mental confusion
Weight Loss May Be Temporary
Although there is no doubt that juice fasting will result in rapid weight loss, opponents of the extreme dieting technique argue that it is an ineffective weight loss technique because it results in fluid loss rather than substantial weight loss. Some argue that weight that comes off rapidly will return just as rapidly after regular foods are introduced back into the diet. This theory is echoed by some medical professionals who are proponents of juice fasting for other medical reasons, but not for weight loss. In addition to the fluid loss theory, the significant decrease in metabolism can also be a factor in gaining back all, if not more, of the weight that was lost.
One of the biggest arguments against juice fasting for weight loss is that it is not teaching the individual about healthy eating habits. Instead of encouraging healthy lifestyle changes that can lead to slow, steady and permanent weight loss, it glorifies a quick fix solution that is not effective in the long run.
Is Juice Fasting Safe?
Juice fasting is considered safe for healthy individuals without underlying medical conditions, only when performed under the supervision of a qualified health care professional. Juice fasting is not safe for:
- Pregnant women
- Women who are breastfeeding
- Individuals suffering from malnutrition
- Individual with cardiac arrhythmias or other heart conditions
- Individuals suffering from conditions that affect the kidneys or liver
Juice fasting can be an effective way to lose weight and jump-start a healthy diet plan. Always consult with your doctor prior to starting a juice fast or any other extreme diet.