I’m tackling both subject today as they often go hand-in-hand. They are hot discussions that everyone seems to know something about; they are also a huge moneymaking opportunity for those selling things. First and foremost, however, I’d like to start by reminding readers that I am not a doctor nor registered nutritionist (I am an American Council on Exercise certified Health Coach); I highly recommend talking with your doctor and/or a registered nutritionist before beginning any fasting, juicing, or combo regimen, particularly if you have health issues. Each can pose serious health risks if not done properly.
Let me start by discussing fasting. I’ve discussed it before, at length, here. I’d like to say that, with the exception of short, periodic fasting, I believe that fasting should only be done for religious reasons, and then with moderation. There are those zealots who take it to an extreme, looking to lose weight while they are paying homage to God. That, to me, is not the right reason to partake of a religious fast. Religious fasting is an outward expression of disciplining the spirit and ought not be misconstrued into a weight-loss regimen.
Periodic fasting, also known as intermittent fasting, is shown to have some benefits. It is also good to allow the body the time to cleanse itself after taking in toxins over several months. However you go about it, make sure you do plenty of research and start out slowly. Jumping head-first into fasting can amount to drowning and giving up on the task.
Keep in mind that fasting might not be right for you. That is okay. I am not a proponent of the fasting dieting fad. I do not think sustained fasting is good for the body. In fact, when the body is subjected to long periods of fasting, it begins to shut down. It stores what energy it can by slowing the metabolism. This causes lethargy, despondency, cloudy thinking, and dissatisfaction with oneself–and when one is dissatisfied with oneself, all positivity goes out the window in favor of self-depreciation, which kills any attempts at bettering health.
Okay, so perhaps fasting isn’t the way to go. What about juicing? Personally, I love the idea behind juicing for a couple of reasons. First, it enables us to take in the necessary nutrients we need every day. Second, for those who, like me, aren’t into eating constantly just to get all those nutrients, juicing allows us to get all those vegetables and fruits in (5+ cups per day) without having to constantly munch down on raw veggies. Third, it helps us consume things we may not really like to eat in its natural and/or cooked state. Green leafies? Yeah, sometimes they don’t taste so good.
The downside to juicing is that you miss out on the fiber, which is necessary for stool movement and heart health. Juicing is also expensive. Not only are you paying for quite a bit of produce (although, to be honest, if we ate as many servings of fruits and veggies as we ought to eat, you may be surprised at the bill, particularly with gas prices going up) but also a juicer. There is also an increased risk of food-borne illness, although if your produce is washed correctly and used immediately, it is a smaller risk than if drinking pasteurized products.(A student recently told me that she washes all her produce in white vinegar and water, and rinses with water, which I think is far healthier than a chemical solution or spray.)
As for a juice fast, again this may be how you choose to take intermittent fasting. I don’t promote any sort of fasting, as people tend to think that the immediate weight loss associated with fasting is fat loss, which it isn’t. (It’s fluid loss.) Juice fasting, or fasting on liquids, should be done with extreme care and approached in the same manner as intermittent fasting (i.e. a few days at a time every few months).
Be that as it may, proponents of these techniques swear by it. When all is said and done, however, it comes down to the individual: what works and what doesn’t. If interested in trying any or all of these, consult with your doctor and do research. Don’t jump in head-first, particularly if people are trying to sell you something. It isn’t worth the grief (and hit to your pocketbook).
As I always say, moderation is key. Going too far in any direction isn’t healthy or balanced. Health is about finding balance, striking that balance however it is best for you, and monitoring your body for signs of unbalance. Remember: any diet promising fast results isn’t going to give them to you. It takes longer to shed weight than it did to put it on. Have patience and look for the ways to help yourself that will be beneficial to both your body and self-esteem; and, as usual, get moving!