*This review is 100% unsponsored. Lean It UP and Eric have no financial relationship with Love Grace or any of the juicing companies mentioned.
Chances are you’ve seen or heard about the latest craze sweeping the nation — juice fasting. Whether to lose weight, ‘cleanse toxins’ or just out of pure unadulterated curiosity, diet junkies, health enthusiasts, and Hollywood celebrities alike have engaged with the fad in some form.
Still need proof? Stroll into any of your favorite organic markets and you’ll see bright green, red and orange juices lining the aisles. But what’s the deal? Is it insane to deprive your body of solid foods? Well, not quite. The basic concept of fasting is a commonality in many long-standing cultures and religions. In Judaism, there is Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av — fasts that last just over 24 hours where nothing is taken from dawn until nightfall. Muslims do a similar fast during Ramadan, which lasts an entire lunar month, and traditional Christians once fasted during Lent.
Many today dismiss this as religious fodder, but there is method to this madness. Just thinking about it from a mechanical sense — as humans we were built to hunt, to feast, to forage, and during lean times…to fast. Our bodies were designed to survive when you couldn’t just walk up the block to a 24-hour McDonald’s and order a McChicken with fries and a large coke!
The point is, a little hunger won’t kill you. In fact, a little hunger might just save your life. According to research performed by Cal Berkeley, USC, and Chicago’s Mount Sinai — fasting occasionally may help prevent, as well as treat cancer.12
“The point is, a little hunger won’t kill you. In fact, a little hunger might just save your life.”
Here’s how it works: during a fast, our healthy cells naturally begin to protect themselves due to lack of external fuel while the cancerous cells continue their malignant growth. However, the longer we fast, the less glucose we have, and the less fuel these cancerous cells have to fuel their spreading.
Additionally, fasting acts as a signal for your brain to start working at a higher level (makes sense right, considering hunger has generally been the underlying motivation behind any human advancement). According to Mark Mattson of the National Institute on Aging: “when the brain goes under energy restriction, we see neural activity that’s associated with protection against degeneration from stroke and aging; fasting increases BDNF, a protein that’s crucial for learning and protection against neurodegenerative diseases like epilepsy, moderate autism, and Alzheimer’s.”34
Point is — I’m not promoting food deprivation, I’m merely saying that, not only is the human body equipped to fast, it may actually thrive during occasional stints of hunger.
My Experience with Love Grace & Juice Fasting
Based on preliminary evidence, juicing has potential. But, in practice, is all of this juice really doing anything for your body? Many juice cleanses, including BluePrintCleanse, Love Grace Cleanse, Ritual Cleanse, Organic Avenue, and Life Juice (to name a few) cost $75 dollars a day on average!
Any reasonable person would be crazy not to do a mini cost-benefit analysis when paying that amount of money to NOT eat. Luckily for you dubious but curious ones, this 20-something-health-and-body-obsessed young professional has decided to suck it up and try a few of these cleanses out myself. The following is a completely uncensored and unaffiliated overview of my ‘juicy’ experience with this latest liquid obsession.
My 3-Day Love Grace Trial —
Full-disclosure, I’ve attempted 3-day juice cleanses before in the past. I’ve tried 1-day juice cleanses and I’ve tried week-long juice fasts that allow you to eat dinner. I’ve tried BluePrintCleanse Juices and I’ve tried Arden’s Garden Juices (a regional, Atlanta-based company).
The company I chose to go with most recently was Love Grace, largely because of its nutritional attributes. Both BPC and LG package 6 juices for daily consumption, most of which have similar ingredients — kale, celery, spinach, beets, carrots, you know…the foods that the cute critters on god’s green earth all know and love. They sometimes spice up the recipes with twists like coconut water, but at the end of the day the concept is the same; a trunk sized portion of fruits, vegetables and legumes all nicely packaged into 6 lovely bottles.
All juices, however, are not created equal. BPC’s beginner ‘Renovation’ package hits a whopping 180g of sugar in aggregate, whereasLG’s standard lineup packs roughly 100g in total. That’s nearly DOUBLE the sugar content in BPC, and that much sugar — no matter the form — can’t be good for the body. This made my choice easy.
Here’s LG’s standard juice lineup —
16oz Purify (1): Coconut water, celery, chard, spinach, and cucumber
4oz Ginger Bomb (1): self-explanatory
16oz Super Cider or Longevity Tonic (1): apple, carrot, ginger, and lemon; lemon, shilajit, cayenne, agave, himalayan sea salt
16oz Green Protein Smoothie/Chocolate Superfood Smoothie or Probiotic Smoothie (1): ingredients vary but this is a heavier drink with a variety of seeds packed into them
16oz Restore (1): my personal favorite packed with carrot, beet, celery, cucumber, parsley, spinach, lemon, and orange
Pre-Gaming the Juice Cleanse:
The standard timing for a juice cleanse is typically three-days. However, be warned: proper prep for a juice cleanse will typically take end-to-end around a week. This extra time is used to prepare your system for raw, natural foods. If your body is used to refined carbs that make up the majority of the grocery aisles and you jump into the fast cold-turkey, it will be rough.
I made sure that I ate mostly raw, whole foods the week leading up to the cleanse. For example, the dinner I ate right before was half a chicken breast with an avocado (not quite gourmet but filling). I would also strongly recommend avoiding a huge ‘last supper’ type meal, because let’s face it — going on a liquid diet means sacrificing fiber, and the last thing you want is a bunch of stuff stuck in your digestive tract. Just saying…
The morning of my juice cleanse actually happened to be the day before I moved into my midtown apartment. I often feel that one learns more from mistakes than successes.
Tip #1: Do NOT begin a juice-cleanse when you have stressful things/energy consuming things going on. Food deprivation will not make things easier.
I woke up feeling fairly energetic and before starting the cleanse officially, I drank a warm glass of water with lemon juice to help kick start my cleanse. I opened the bottle of Purify (most juice cleanses recommend starting with the most nutrient dense bottle, read: the green ones) and found that I couldn’t quite choke down the entire thing. While it wasn’t unpleasant in taste, gorging oneself with a carb-heavy drink (40 g) first thing in the morning is a difficult task.
Tip #2: Slow and steady wins the race — there is no reason to chug an entire bottle in one sitting. I learned this the hard way when I tried chugging one of these bottles early in the morning and ended up throwing some of it up because my stomach couldn’t handle all of the liquid at once.
My day commenced, and as expected, it was fast-and-furious between filling U-Hauls with furniture and packing away boxes. All the while I continued to sip on each of the juices in succession (full-disclosure: I started to get bored of certain tastes and begin sipping different juices to throw in some variety…which really wasn’t a half bad idea).
The day ended around 4 AM due to some complications in moving and I’ll be honest, there were a few moments when my head was spinning, probably due to exhaustion, sleep deprivation, and a dearth of calories.
Tip #3: I must emphasize this again — absolutely do NOT begin a juice cleanse when you have intense, belaboring activities on your plate.
My original thought was that being busy would distract me from hunger — and while our caveman friends may have been built to resist famine — they never had to pack a bunch of junk into a U-Haul and move things into a midtown apartment (the avenue on which it lies was also closed due to the Pride Parade that day). Hungry and exhausted, I somehow managed to get through moving day and the first day of my juice cleanse.
I woke up from my slumber feeling a big groggy. Lack of sleep and solid food wasn’t doing me any favors. But what can you do — on to the next one. I trudged to the fridge and decided to start off with the Restore bottle this morning because, well, it seemed appropriate.
As I mentioned above — this juice is by far my favorite. After 24 hours without anything but juice, the combination of carrot, apple, beet, cucumber and lemon flavors were explosive. I guess it really says something when THAT becomes your treat for the day. Like Day 1, I couldn’t finish the bottle and capped it. By this point, though, I was STARVING. I knew that if I didn’t get at least something in my belly that required chewing I wouldn’t make it through the day. Which leads me to…
Tip #4: If you feel like you can’t keep going, eat something. Your body will forgive you. The point of a juice cleanse is just to give your stomach a break from digesting whole foods; something small won’t destroy what you’re trying to achieve.
As my day continued, I gradually began to feel more and more energized. I found that I wasn’t craving my usual 3PM snack. During Day 1 I was thinking about food literally every 15 minutes, especially because everything smelled AMAZING. I felt like Daredevil, as if I were blind and my sense of smell needed to be augmented to make up for it.
Day 2 was much easier, I felt pretty satiated with just the juices. Whenever I felt a craving creeping up I would sip whichever of the 6 juices sparked my fancy at the moment. After the dust settled from the activities throughout the day — I crawled into bed, exhausted but content. One more day.
I won’t belabor you all with too many more details so I’ll cover the highlights. I woke up on Day 3 feeling great, I didn’t feel a desire to eat any junk food and to be honest, I was a little sad that this was my final day’s supply of juices. I’d already begun to plan my exit diet to ease myself out of the juice cleanse.
Tip #5: Make sure that you ease your way out of the juice fast with easy-to-digest foods, preferably whole foods that won’t wear out your tummy. Start off slow with bananas, avocados, maybe saltine crackers (I swear by these when I’m having stomach issues) for a few days after the cleanse. Then slowly start introducing grains, nuts and meats back into your diet. Starting off with lean white chicken breast is great way to help introduce clean protein back into your belly as well.
My Final Thoughts on Juicing
Although the jury is out on whether flooding your body with sugar-packed fruit/vegetable juices induces actual health benefits or merely a placebo effect, I can speak to my experience.
My cleanse was clearly no smooth ride, but the myriad of challenges actually taught me more about the whole process and my own body. A juice cleanse, in my opinion, is definitely not something that should be done for extended periods of time. As humans, we need calories to operate and do our daily activities — especially if you live in a bustling city like Manhattan, it just isn’t reasonable to always run on a vegetable juice diet.
“Mentally telling yourself that you can only drink juices for 3 days forces you to face a hard truth: our bodies are capable of handling a little hunger.”
That being said, I strongly encourage everyone to attempt a 1-3 day juice fast at least once. I say this because we’ve been programmed in an environment where even the slightest bit of hunger activates an impulse to reach for something to shove into our mouths. Mentally telling yourself that you can only drink juice for 3 days forces you to face a hard truth: our bodies are capable of handling a little hunger. If anything, a little bit of hunger is good for the body, as I referenced earlier.
Plus, once your body stops taking in processed foods for a period of time, you find that your cravings for sweets/junk foods significantly drop. When I was planning my exit diet, I had avocados, beets, and carrots on the mind. To me, the juice cleanse served as an amazing reset button to my diet. I also noticed that my skin looked much healthier and the dark circles under my eyes (despite the exhaustion and lack of sleep from moving/meetings) had disappeared.
And just to mention it — as I’m sure many of you are interested— I consciously avoided mentioning weight-loss. My original intent with this cleanse was never to lose weight, but rather to experiment with how I felt and detox my kidneys/liver after many fun, bleary nights.
Overall, I’ve decided that, while wary of the high sugar content (combated by sipping slowly rather than chugging), I will be regularly partaking in this juice cleanse craziness. I can’t decipher whether the benefits are purely from fasting, the juice, a simple placebo effect, or some combo of all 3, but I do know that increased energy and a visibly glowing complexion are things I certainly won’t argue with.
Juicing with Love Grace Cleanse gets a big thumbs-up from this guy.