This summer I decided to go on a vegetable juice fast. I’ve never done any type of fasting (unless you count the hours I’m sleeping) so I didn’t know what to expect. I always thought fasting was for emaciated hippies who weren’t tough enough to eat meat three times per day. But since my vegetable intake could use a healthy boost I gave it a trial run. You can read about my first 36 hours in part I here.
So now I’ll pick up on the night of day 2 of my vegetable juice fast. (I didn’t give you all the details of day 2 in part I.)
The first day, as mentioned, was a little rough. I was as hungry as an angry boar by mid afternoon but I stayed busy enough to fight off the hunger pangs. On day 2, my hungry was more manageable. By evening I decided it was time to replenish my muscles. I was leaner by day 2, for sure, but I felt pretty weak. So at 7pm on day 2 I did a circuit of 10 kettlebell swings, 10 clap push-ups, and 5 pull-ups for 10 rounds. I was weaker than normal but my endurance was up to par, maybe even a little higher. This was a pleasant surprise.
Immediately after the workout I drank 2 scoops of Sun Warrior protein with 8 branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and jumped in the shower. Thirty minutes later I was sitting at Chaya Venice, one of my favorite local restaurants. I started off with a big salad and then followed it up with fresh fish, steamed vegetables, wild rice and cheesecake for dessert. I normally don’t eat like this at dinner time (too many carbs and calories) but I think I could’ve eaten twice as much as I did. Nevertheless, I kept the reigns pulled in a bit since I wasn’t sure how my gastrointestinal (GI) tract was going to respond to an influx of real food.
After the meal my stomach still felt pretty flat, my muscles were full, and my brain was thrilled with the decision to start eating again. That night I didn’t eat anymore food, I just drank water since I was super thirsty. Indeed, the 36-hour fast followed by a good workout made my muscles soak up those nutrients at dinner which, in turn, used up a lot of water for glycogen replenishment. It was important that I kept drinking more water because my muscles needed it. The more water you can stuff into your muscles, the better, since it triggers anabolism. That night I had a little trouble falling asleep – even with a big meal – so I took ZMA before bed. I also measured my waist.
The next morning (day 3), I woke up and immediately measured my waist. It had actually dropped 1/16″ from the night before. That might not sound like much, but I was expecting it to be higher due to the big nighttime meal. It wasn’t. So this leads me to my first valuable piece of info that I want to share with you.
Tip #1: When you have a huge, calorie-infused meal coming up (birthday or any type of celebration where you want to indulge in rich food) it’s wise to perform a vegetable fast for two days (36 hours) leading up to the indulgence. Before you head out for dinner, perform a challenging, full-body workout with short rest periods. This will further deplete your glycogen stores which will make your muscles more sensitive to the food you eat. After all, the key to getting leaner is to make the calories you eat go into your muscles instead of your fat cells.
Tip #2: Follow a 2-day vegetable juice fast to improve your GI health. I’ve never had any real problems with GI health, but the vegetable juice fast significantly improved it. How do I know? First off, the meal I ate the night of day 2 would’ve normally made me feel stuffed and I would’ve had stomach distention immediately after and until bedtime. I didn’t have either because the fast apparently made my GI tract produce more digestive enzymes (just like it claims).
Tip #3: A vegetable juice fast can immediately decrease inflammation in your joints. I injured my hip and SI joint 8 years ago. Since that time I feel soreness and tightness in my left hip and low back as soon as I get out of bed. When I woke up on day 2 of the vegetable juice fast that pain was gone. The influx of vegetable juice, and subsequent lack of foods that can trigger inflammation (dairy, beef, etc.), decreased inflammation throughout my body.
Over the last few months I’ve been experimenting with a 2-day vegetable juice fast with many of my clients. Before you give it a shot I want to mention a few key points. First, if you’re a guy who’s hellbent on getting bigger and stronger, fasting for that long probably isn’t a good idea. For you I recommend a 1-day fast because whatever strength/muscle you lose will be minimal and easy to regain. The next day, get back to your higher-calorie plan. Second, I don’t recommend a juice fast with any fruits since your blood sugar will get thrown out of whack due to an excessive amount of simple sugars. I tried a day of juicing nothing but fruit a few years back and it made my muscles and body feel as weak as a newborn kitten and it was disastrous on my blood sugar. The vegetable juice fast didn’t affect my blood sugar, even though I was ravenously hungry the first day.
In the first installment I mentioned three vegetables that I used for the fast: celery, carrots, and beets. One important point about beets – they often give your urine a reddish tint by the end of the first day. I had one client get pretty scared because he thought it was blood. I wasn’t, and the reddish tint is harmless. However, you can alternate between the veggie drink I mentioned in part I and this drink:
3 large celery stalks
2 large carrots
1 large cucumber
Pinch of sea salt (optional)
(Any vegetables will work. The two drinks I mentioned suit my palate, and most of my clients like them so I’ve been sticking with them. As long as you juice veggies every 3-4 hours, and add a pinch of sea salt, you’ll reap all the benefits.)
Now, whenever a client needs to improve digestion, decrease inflammation, or boost overall health, I put them on a 36-hour vegetable juice fast. The second night consists of an intense workout followed by a large, healthy meal to boost their metabolism and replenish glycogen. Plus, I’ve seen some fat burned during those two days, too. And we all can use more of that!