A 30-Day Juicing Challenge (+ 3 Favorite Juice Recipes)

Note: This post was written by Doug Hay, who blogs at Rock Creek Runner (and co-hosts the NMA podcast!).

juicer imageIt all started with a documentary.

We were flipping through Netflix looking for a post-dinner movie when my fiancée Katie landed on Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.

As tends to happen after a good documentary, I was immediately convinced. I knew everything about juicing and had to do it immediately or I might very well die. Before the credits rolled, we were looking up juicer options and trying to fit the purchase into our budget.

As if the Juicing Gods were smiling down on our household, the No Meat Athlete inbox received an email from the good people at Lifestyle Products Group asking if we wanted to test out their new product, the NutriPro Juicer.

Just like that, a challenge was born. Katie and I, who had never owned a juicer and rarely purchased fresh juice, would commit to a 48-hour juice cleanse, followed by 30 days of replacing at least one meal a day with juice.

Though we were excited, we were also a bit nervous. I was in the middle of training for my third ultramarathon, and Katie was practicing or teaching yoga every day. Would we notice any changes? Could we even sustain our lifestyle on juice?

Juicing vs. Smoothies

Smoothies are already a favorite amongst vegans and athletes everywhere. But juices are not the same as smoothies.

Both are incredibly easy ways to pack your diet with healthy foods, but there is one key difference:

Juicing extracts the nutrients out of the produce while dumping the fibers out the other end. Simply put, juice is basically a smoothie without the fibers.

By removing the fiber you are creating a super-powered, nutrient-rich beverage. Fiber takes up volume in a smoothie, which then takes up volume in your stomach. This limits how much you can take in and how quickly the body will process it. Juice packs all the vitamins and minerals into one concentrated serving, giving you a huge energy and health boost without making your body do all the work to digest it.

But don’t you need fiber? Absolutely. And I’m not saying you should rule out smoothies forever — healthy eating is all about whole foods, and smoothies are definitely closer to whole than juice is. But by mixing juice in with your regular diet or having a nice balance of juices and smoothies, you’ll get the fiber you need and the added benefit of the nutrient punch.

The Cleanse (And the Symphony of My Stomach)

Katie and I had a stark initiation into the Juice Club with a 48-hour cleanse, where we consumed nothing but juice and water.

Though the virtues of juice cleansing are hotly debated, it’s my opinion that cleanses can be very beneficial, giving your digestive system a much needed break and jump-starting your body by cleaning out all the toxins and pumping it full of the good stuff. However, cleanses can be dangerous and should be well planned and researched. Before beginning, we gathered lots of advice and planned out 4 to 5 large juices for each day.

Headaches, fatigue, and hunger set in by hour 12. I drank my breakfast and big lunch juices, but by 1:00 pm on the first day, the lack of coffee and substantial food was starting to take its toll. Katie, who doesn’t drink coffee, sent a desperate email around that time expressing similar side effects.

Thankfully, as the day went on, those symptoms started to subside. We woke up on the second day hungry but refreshed. With enough juice to consume one every few hours, it allowed us to take in food every time the stomach started growling.

And boy, would it start growling. Loudly, I might add.

But by bedtime on the second day, our energy levels were back to normal, if not higher than before, and the headaches had subsided. Katie and I both appreciated how clean our bodies felt, and how well we reacted to the raw food. We also realized how much we love to chew — we were both feeling very hungry and eager for solid food.

30 Days of Juice, 10 Pounds Lost, and 1 Really Pink Toilet Bowl

fruits and veggies imageAfter the initial juice cleanse, Katie and I fell into a regular routine of drinking our juice as breakfast. With this new routine came immediate gains and consequences.

As if a switch had flipped, we noticed a difference in our energy levels in the morning. The surge of nutrients turned out to be an amazing away to wake up the body and mind.

As the days went on, I could feel my body craving that boost every morning. No longer was I filling myself with a starchy meal with little nutritional gain every morning, but instead waking up my body with what it really wanted. We also never really experienced the stuffed-sluggish feeling that comes with a big meal. A juice can fill you up, but never leaves you feeling like you chowed down on a heavy Thanksgiving dinner.

But there were downfalls, too. As in our juice cleanse, we still experienced some hunger pangs. By 10:30 most mornings, Katie was ready for her second meal. I had no trouble getting through the mid-morning hours, but was certainly ready for a hearty lunch by noon.

We both lost five pounds that month, but I can’t say for certain if it was because of the juicing. I was in the middle of ultramarathon training, and Katie was actively increasing her time on the yoga mat.

As a result of our 30 days of juicing, Katie and I both learned several lessons:

  1. Juicing ain’t cheap. It takes a lot of produce to squeeze out enough juice to make a meal, and buying the produce (especially during the winter months) can be very expensive.
  2. It takes a bit of time to prep the produce, juice, and clean. To sidestep this issue, we juiced every other day, making enough for two days. Add a little citrus to the juice and it will keep just fine for the next day.
  3. Just 1 glass of beet juice will make my pee pink for days. And I do mean bright pink.
  4. Adding an apple or pear can really sweeten up the bitterest of leafy greens without adding too much sugar.
  5. You can freeze the juice in an ice tray and make delicious and healthy popsicles.
  6. With the recent surge in popularity, juicing recipes and resources can be found everywhere. Our favorite recipe book was The Big Book of Juices and Smoothies.

Weapon of Choice: The NutriPro Juicer

As I mentioned before, Lifestyle Products Group sponsored this challenge by providing us with the NutriPro Juicer, so it’s only appropriate we take a minute to talk about why this machine is so sweet.

For starters, the NutriPro Juicer is what they call a cold press juicer. Before this challenge I had no idea what that meant, but now I understand how badass this is.

Basically, there are two types of juicers out on the market right now: the cold press juicer and a centrifugal juice extractor. A centrifugal juicer uses blades which produce heat, killing some of the enzymes and nutrients. Cold press juicers don’t use actual blades, but instead squeeze the bejeebers out of your fruits and veggies with enough force to extract everything except the pulp. If you’re in the market for a juicer, pick a cold press.

We really put this juicer through the wringer, and I have to admit that it performed marvelously. Aside from an initial learning curve (note: cut your fruits and veggies into smaller chunks than you think you need to!) It is durable, fairly easy to clean, and comes with all the thoughtful additions, like a cleaning brush and airtight travel mug.

Conclusion

We both ended the 30 days totally loving juicing. It was easy, made us feel good, and didn’t get old like we both expected.

Following the challenge, we added juicing to our dinner prep at least once or twice a week. It has become our go-to healthy breakfast or snack and has already come in handy when trying to impress out-of-town guests.

My 3 Favorite Recipes

We made dozens of different juices over the 30 days, but here are three of our favorites.

vampires delight juice image 199x300Vampire’s Delight

A perfect blend of beet and smooth refreshing cucumber.  Add a bit of lime to give it a nice kick at the finish. High in detox value and good for the digestion.

  • 2 beets
  • 1 cucumber
  • lime, peeled, to taste

Makes about 24 ounces of juice.

 

field of greens image 199x300Fields of Green

The bitterness of the kale is mellowed out by the delicious sweetness of the apple, pear, and orange. This dark green juice is a great detoxer, and a nice boost for your immunity.

  • 1 cucumber
  • 3 sticks of celery
  • 1 green apple
  • 1 green pear
  • 3 stalks of kale
  • 1 orange, peeled

Makes about 24 ounces of juice.

orange you glad juice image 199x300Orange You Glad I Didn’t Say Banana

Need a natural energy boost in the morning? Try this neon orange juice with sweet melon and hearty carrots. Add a bit of ginger root to mellow out the flavor.

  • 1 cantaloupe, peeled
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 inch ginger root

Makes about 30 ounces of juice.

 

About the Author: Doug Hay once spilled his morning juice all over his keyboard at work, causing it to smell like kale and beet greens for days. Find more of Doug’s reviews, training tips, and mishaps at his blog, Rock Creek Runner, where you can download his free eBook, The Power of a Running Mantra, featuring Matt Frazier, Susan Lacke, and many of NMA’s favorite bloggers.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the link, Matt!! And really cool post. My Breville is on its last leg, so I’ll have to look at the NutriPro.

    I’m still not a fan of juice fasting, or meal replacement with juices, from a scientific standpoint: I think the chances of raising blood sugar too much are real for a lot of people, and that there’s just not enough hard clinical evidence (very little, in fact) that juice fasting is any more beneficial than eating a healthy diet.

    That said, for a lot of people, the experience of a fast can incite more mindfulness about eating, which is a good thing, and of course the concentrated nutrient value of juice is incredible! I regard it as a supplement of sorts — a snack and meal component that I think boosts my vitality and the nutrient density of my day.

  2. Awesome! I’m so glad more and more people are being introduced to juicing! I had the same reaction as you did after watching “fat, sick, and nearly dead.” I got a juicer and started my cleanse. The first few days were rough for me, but that fourth day I had so much energy I didn’t know what do with myself!
    I have recently purchased a nutribullet. I love it. No waste and easy to clean up. It is like a smoothie and I usually have it in the AM and then I will have my juice in the afternoon. I have been into juicing for a good year now, and I have one at least once a day. Feeling great!

  3. Heres another juice option that I am fairly certain nobody else will suggest, but it is quite surprisingly delicious.
    4 oranges, peeled
    1 large bunch of cilantro.

    Weird combination- but oddly good.

  4. Excellent post!! Just starting to do my own juicing, so this is timely and valuable information!

  5. Fantastic blog post and well done on your juicing achievement. I love it when fellow runners enjoy the benefits of juicing.

    Angie and myself lost 150 pounds combined through juicing and running. We have (other than than the odd few pounds) have kept it off.

    There is no coincidence that when I started to run I was on week 1 of a juice fast. I could not run for 2 mins then. Angie and I have now run 5 half marathons between us.

    Juicing is great for weight loss but there is so much more to it than that. Our energy levels were through the roof and it led us both to a plant strong diet. Our tastes and cravings totally changed – now we crave steamed greens rather than a steak.

    Three years since I (Shane)started on a mission to transform my life through exercise and nutrition and I am still loving it. My diet has been completely overhauled. Gone are the kebabs, burgers and fries. My standard of living is so much better since I introduced running and juicing into my life. I was promoted three times and landed a dream move from Sweden to San Francisco and now New York City. This all happened after I started running and juicing.

    You can seen our before and after photos on the link above. We also have a free starter guide on how we introduced juicing into our lives.

    My only warning to people is not to drink too much beet only juice. It is so potent so limit yourself to a 1oz shot. I have heard from a lot of people that they had adverse effects from drinking beet only.

    I would recommend sweetening it with an apple, carrot or a cucumber. Beets are powerhouses especially for runners. I drink an ABC (apple, beet, carrot) every day.

  6. I think you are missing the value of the fiber in adding health benefits and satiaty. I would try those same recipes with some added water and I bet you could make it to lunch more easily.

  7. Keith is right. You can cleanse on just juice though I prefer to add in smoothies as part of the plan. That way you should not be deficient in fiber. A twin track approach (juicing and smoothies) gives you assurance and peace of mind.

    I must say though, when I cleanse like this, I am not really physically hungry. Most of the time it is a mental hunger rather than physical. You will need to weather these moments. My advice is to drink lots of water and to draw up a list of 3-5 goals that you want to achieve. I would think about those goals when I was ‘hungry’ by 10.30.

    This strategy is very effective. When I started running and juicing for the first time – it was winter in Sweden. Some day it was minus 30. I was only able to keep running outdoors by constantly thinking about and visualising those goals. It is a powerful approach.

    Some people say you should not juice fast and run at the same time. I say listen to your body. Last week I ‘fasted’ for 5 days on just juice. I ran every day – between 3 to 4 miles each morning, I felt no pain or issues. In fact I felt in better shape and clocked some fast runs. In fact I ran my 10k PB on day 5 of a juice fast. Just listen to your body…

  8. Hey, next time around, you can quell some of that hunger by:

    1. Adding some of the extracted fiber back into the juice,
    2. Mixing in some grounded flax, hemp or chia seed, or
    3. Mixing in some pea, or hemp protein powder.

    Joe Cross, the documentary maker, uses a Breville Juicer. I got one too, and it’s fast, but after a year it began to break down and I returned to my old workhouse, the Champion Juicer. (Story here: http://www.garmaonhealth.com/diet/reboot-juice-habit) Sometimes there’s a trade off between speed and durability.

    Yep.

    -Joe

  9. Hey, great article! Yeah, juicing isn’t cheap if you’re relying on it for all of your meals. I’m a once a day juicer and when I fast it’s only for 3 days max. Great job on the 30 days and congrats for completing it. I’d just like to add that even though juicing isn’t cheap, hospital and doctor bills are way more :-) Thank and happy juicing!

  10. I watched the same movie and soon afterwords I bought Omega juicer. 9 days later after weighting myself I’m happy to see a 9 pounds difference! I’m not going to lie – the first few days are horrible. As your body is adjusting to a new diet and getting rid of toxins you’re probably going to suffer but it eventually passes and once you start seeing results you’ll be even more motivated to stay on it.

  11. I’m a big fan of smoothies but haven’t really tried juicing. I think it’s definitely worth a try but I do worry about the hunger pangs!

    • Great post. I’m also a runner and recently tried a 7-day juice fast. My last blog post is found here: http://halfsandhikes.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/day-7-of-7-this-juice-fast-is-over/

      Have continued juicing–usually substituting one meal or snack with a juice. My favorite? Pineapple, orange, carrots, and ginger.

      I agree with the smoothie comments. I suggest juicers include protein powder smoothies in their juicing rotations.

      • Yolonda Faber says:

        Might want to check out forks over knives! Proteins are the food source for cancers and you will receive plenty of protein through your juicers. If you diversify and drink a rainbow in your day you will receive between 40 to 60 grams a day. Seriously check it out.

        • I am just starting a juice cleanse for the first time but did plenty of research and found that you are correct about the protein. One site gave the comparison of a gorilla and it’s muscle mass and it only consuming vegetation proving the point that there is plenty protein in a vegetarian diet whether it be juicing or solids. My husband tried telling me I needed to add a protein powder to my juice cleanse so I don’t lose the muscle mass and when I gave him that comparison with the gorilla he completely agreed. She also compared stallions and other animals that consume only vegetation yet have very high muscle mass. It definitely makes sense.

  12. So absolutely no solids during this 3 or30 day cleanse? I am thinking about getting a juicer but I’ve never cleansed before and am worried my running will be effected because of the headaches..

    • Ashley I would not advise that. I would try and introduce one green juice a day for 21 days. That will prepare you for a juice only cleanse.

      I have run during a fast with no problems in fact my runs were faster!!!

      Angie and I lost 150 pounds through juicing and running and have a free starter guide on our site.

  13. great post! I’m looking at launching a 30 day juice challenge for my community and this format was very helpful! I will likely reference your post as I launch in June. Thank you! –Teresa

  14. After conditioning myself into starting each day with a fruit smoothie consisting of:

    Various berries
    Peanut butter
    Spinach
    Tumeric
    Flax oil
    Bananas
    Almond milk…

    …I recently started trying to condition myself to supplant a second meal with a veggie juice.

    A little tougher to take to than the fruit smoothie each morning, but I’ll keep you posted.

    • Caroline says:

      Caroline

      I just started my journey to juicing and I’m very excited I’ve always watched those late night infomercials with Jack Lalanne’s power juicers and always wanted one and to taste those wonderful and delicious drinks didn’t they look scrumptious but never got around to it. All those years went by and I’m sorry to say it took my health problem to make the decision to purchase a Jack Lalanne power juicer and I’m glad I did such a wonderful machine. Wish me luck!!!

  15. Good stuff. I’m always interested to read the results of others who have gone thru the juice fast. I’ve never experienced the odd color of my #1 like you did with beets. But most definitely the hunger struggles were there. I found that drinking decaffinated, unsweetened tea helps a bit in between juices.

  16. Yes!!!! I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!!!! I am starting the 60 juice fast on June 1!!!!!! I’m so excited about it! I can’t wait to give my body a reboot!

  17. Great, Doug and Katie! Thanks for detailed experiences! I like your juice recipes, you gave 3 juices, each of different color, with different vitamins. I know it’s the best to mix 5 different colors of vegetables and fruits to your daily food. I think juicing diet only is dangerous for our health because although juice does contain vitamins it is total carbohydrate without the fiber to even out the blood sugar. We need to make combination with other meals.

  18. Thanks for the great article Doug! We featured your Fields of Green recipe in our Juice Recipe Roundup: Top Juice Recipes from around the web http://www.timetocleanse.com/recipe-roundup-top-15-juice-recipes-from-around-the-web/

  19. Just bought my juicer today. Love your recipes …can’t wait to try them.. We are getting healthy …. LOOK OUT!!!!!!
    Thank you xxx

  20. Lovely read and well done – you are inspiring me. This may be a silly question, but I’m struggling to see how you get 24 ounces (750mls) out of 2 beets 1 cucumber and lime? I would really appreciate your feedback. Thanks!

  21. Wow! That is exactly what I am watching now on Netflix! I am so happy I came across this site. I’m determined to make this work. Now is the time! Wish me luck :). Thanks for the info :)

  22. Thanks so much for all your info.

    God Bless :)

  23. How many ounces did you aim to drink for breakfast on your 30 day cleanse?

  24. I am currently doing a 30 day juice challenge and today is day 26. I followed a plan offered by juice receipes. All i can say is it can be filling so watch what you eat along with juicing. Beside I am feeling great and enjoying this past days of juicing.

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