Working out has never been the hard part of fitness for me. 5 days a week, 7 days a week, weights, cardio, martial arts training- I enjoyed it so it was easy to build positive habits that stuck around. Diet was always the elusive part… I kind of figured that I could out-work my diet in the gym, but that’s never the case. Spoiler alert- abs are made in the kitchen more than the gym… The biggest problem I encountered was that whenever I would cut weight or try to eat really clean I would get hungry. Neigh- ‘hangry’. And that wasn’t fun for anybody involved. Like when Bruce Banner gets angry and becomes the Hulk, except he wants a pizza and a diet coke.
I’ve tried lots of different things- adjusting levels of carbs and proteins, substituting this kind of carb for that kind, intermittent fasting, but they always seemed to be unsustainable, at least for me, and so faded away over time out of my regular eating habits.
Recently, one of my students suggested the benefits of juicing… Like many other dietary experiments, I went into it willingly, but fairly skeptical. I was recommended to get a masticating juicer and use it as a potential meal replacement option. Now let’s be clear, this isn’t a juice cleanse, or a full-on juice conversion. I’m talking about taking one meal a day and having a juice instead of the regular meal. Still chewing every day, just a little bit less. Anything more drastic than that and I wouldn’t have even tried.
My questions were these: “Will I lose muscle mass/strength?”, “Will this work for an active athlete?”, “Will I be hungry and miserable all the time?”, “What will it actually do for me?”. The answers I received were that I could use certain vegetables to add protein into the juice, it would be filling and curb hunger, it was a tried-and-true practice among professional athletes, and it would help me to have more energy while getting “leaner and cleaner”, thus enabling my body to perform at a more optimum level. So I gave it a try…
My hypothesis: “I’ll drink this healthy juice, feel full for about 10 minutes, get hungry again, and then go have lunch as normal.” I’ve used water as a short-term appetite suppressant before, and I assumed once you take all the fiber out of fruits and veggies you basically have vitamin water left over so it should work about the same.
My experiment: My first juice was about a 16 ouncer-er. The size of a big glass of water. I put in kale, carrots, watermelon, celery, a cucumber, and maybe some coconut water too. I have since discovered that a lime makes everything taste better, so now 1 lime goes into every juice I make. But even without the lime, the first one tasted pretty decent. I mean, I’ve had protein powders before that tasted WAY worse, so no big deal… And surprisingly (for me at least) I felt really great! I wasn’t hungry for the next 4 hours, and I had plenty of energy. Almost like when you take a 5 hour energy shot- you feel a little bit jazzed up, the hunger goes away, and you just keep on burning through your day. It seems I have ‘found’ the all-natural version of the synthetic energy drink???
My conclusion: It’s safe to say that I’m officially ‘on the juice’ at this point, and with humble excitement I continue on my juice journey with surprising results. It has been about 3 weeks, and I almost always have at least one juice meal a day. The other meals are about the same, but I feel better from getting the nutrients from the juice and I think it may actually be cheaper than going with regular-diet lunches (especially if you can buy organic fruits and veggies in bulk and use them up before they go bad).
The juicer isn’t particularly cheap- I got an older Omega juicer off of Amazon that was reconditioned, but the reviews say that they last forever, and new ones come with a 15-year warranty so I’m thinking of it as an investment. I’m not going to recommend a ‘secret juice formula’, because I think just doing the juice is probably the biggest secret formula here. Find what you like and go with that, or ask Google for opinions. Some of the staples that I have around now for making juice are kale, spinach, carrots, celery, limes, watermelon, and cucumbers. Other stuff goes in on occasion if I happen to find it at the store (as long it’s certified organic- concentrating nutrients is good, but concentrating chemicals and pesticides not so much). I’ve also noticed a difference physically as well. I’ve dropped a few pounds, feel a bit leaner, and I like the ability to swap out just one meal a day so it’s much more likely to be sustainable long-term.
Bottom line (literally- see what I did there??): I’d suggest giving it a try. Find someone who has a juicer and borrow theirs for a day to try it out (if they are willing to part with it for that long 😉), otherwise, ask them to make an extra one for you the next time they are ‘on the juice’.