I want to get healthy and lose some baby weight I’ve gained over the past few years. A friend recommended a juice fast. Is this something I should try?
- C, Rhode Island
This is a great question because juice fasting is such a huge trend. I have a lot of mom friends who have tried juice fasts after they stopped breast feeding. Some rave at how healthy they felt after a juice fast while others complained that it only left them feeling weak and ill. (And they claim they ate more junk in the days following the fast.)
The bottom line is, juice fasts are not for everyone.
Many juice fasts promise you a magic cure-all, from weight loss to detoxification and the prevention of everything from canker sores to cancer. But there are a lot of untold truths about juice fasts that show they could do more harm than good.
Although I am not a health expert, I’ve gathered seven truths from a variety of sources to help you make the right decision.
Seven truths about juice fasts:
1) Fad is bad. Many experts consider juice fasting to be like a fad diet, so it’s not healthy to rely on it as the only way to help you get healthy and reach your goal weight. As with any diet, you should talk to your doctor and decide on a healthy diet and exercise regimen that’s right for you.
2) Don’t fast too long. It’s not healthy to restrict your body from the other nutritious foods that it needs for weeks on end. So if you are going to try a juice fast, make it short. (A few days rather than a few weeks.) Doctors claim that extending your juice fast could cause serious damage to your body, such as electrolyte imbalances.
3) Recommended servings. The good thing about juicing is it will help you get the recommended serving of fruits and veggies, if not more, per day. The bad news is you could get the same daily dose by eating fruits and vegetables in their natural form.
4) Balance is key. Experts are not saying you shouldn’t drink juice (from juice fasts). But instead of drinking only juice for weeks, a healthier alternative might be including juices in a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains.
5) Healthier way. Moderation is key to any diet, and the healthiest way to lose weight and keep it off is to make smart lifestyle changes that you can maintain your entire life. (Exercising and eating, not just drinking, a healthier diet.) Some experts claim that one juice a day (as a meal replacement) could benefit people without health concerns, as long as it’s accompanied by a balanced diet.
6) Be skeptical about strict diets. Juice fasts frequently lack substantial amounts of protein and fat. Always be skeptical when a strict diet eliminates entire food groups. There’s a reason dietary guidelines offer foods from a variety of categories: You can’t get all of your essential vitamins and minerals from just one.
7) Juicing isn’t for everyone. It can actually be dangerous for some people like those undergoing chemotherapy, diabetics, and people with nutritional deficiencies or kidney disease. The high sugar consumption from juice fasts can increase blood-sugar levels in diabetics and can cause blurry vision, excessive thirst and unexplained weight loss.
Jackie Hennessey is a local writer and pr professional who blogs about her take on motherhood at www.ventingsessions.com and writes about it in her book, How to Spread Sanity on a Cracker.