There's no question that juice cleanses drastically slash your calorie consumption. But research has found that after just a few days of skimping on calories (even a very petite woman needs at least 1,200), your body stops producing a crucial growth hormone called IGF1, and reduces thyroid and other hormones as well as insulin levels. Over time, all of this can lead to problems such as bone loss and menstrual disruptions.
As I lost weight, I found I was able to take up running again. (While I was still too heavy for running, I did mostly bike riding.) For a while, I was running 5 miles/day, and finding that, because of that running, I didn’t have to be too careful any longer about my eating to keep my weight steady. But then I got too busy at work, and my running became sporadic, and then pretty much stopped altogether. Meanwhile, the fairly careless eating continued. Over the course of several years my weight crept back up, eventually surpassing what it had been when I was initially scared into losing weight (and making even the thought of running ridiculous). Other signs of ill health showed up in the results of my blood work for my annual physicals and at the physicals themselves, and I was put on medications, first for blood pressure, then for cholesterol.
And remember: Fasting for a certain length of time is no excuse to binge on candy, soda, and fried foods afterward. No matter what type of fasting you try for weight loss, it’s important to focus on healthy, nutrient-dense and high-fat foods outside of fasting periods. Fasting helps your body “reset.” Don’t hinder your own results by returning to unhealthy foods.
After a fast, the greatest danger lies in eating too much and too frequently. If you rush into eating solid foods, overloading your digestive organs with large amounts of food, you may provoke acute attacks of indigestion and experience physical problems such as diarrhea, sickness and fainting. Moreover, you risk serious medical disturbances. Before embarking on a fast, speak to your doctor. Also, if you do ignore all the warnings and pursue overeating after breaking your fast, you will pile on weight (fat, not fluid).
To complement my workout schedule and family life, I fasted Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays so I could have the weekends to enjoy eating with my family. With ADF, you're supposed to fast all day long, and only consume about 500 calories on that day, but since I was still doing intense CrossFit workouts, I needed more fuel than that. So I did a modified version of ADF, fasting for 24 hours straight from 6 p.m until 6 p.m. the following day. I only drank water, sparkling mineral water, black coffee, and tea. My week of eating looked like this:
Sweetened with a touch of stevia, this is a new breed of protein shake, made primarily of hydrating coconut water. Grass-fed milk protein supplies more protein than three eggs–for a fraction of the morning prep time. If you need your fuel with caffeine-derived focus, they offer a coffee flavor that uses plenty of joe–in fact, it’s the second ingredient.
Breakfast time! You’re about to feel a whole lot better with the push of a button—the blender button. Throw a large ripe banana (peeled and then frozen are best!), some non-dairy milk and a scoop of your favorite protein powder in a blender and flip the switch, baby. Bananas are one of best natural sources of vitamin B6, which a study printed in the Journal Annals of Nutrition showed can reduce hangover symptoms by as much as 50 percent! They’re also brimming with potassium, a mineral lost by frequent urination when you drink.
That's not to say every cleanse is bad. Done in a healthy (read: sane) way, detoxing "can feel like an intervention, a fresh beginning," Hellerstein says. "Most people eat way more food than necessary, which taxes the liver and kidneys," says Ronald Stram, M.D., director of the Center for Integrative Health and Healing in New York. Not only does a healthy detox give your digestive system a break, but by eliminating added sugar, saturated fats, and alcohol, it also rids your diet of things that can exacerbate health issues, Ventrelle says. "Plus," she notes, "you'll likely cut calories in the process."
With this new-found popularity, the number and type of cleanse diets has soared, from food-based "liver detoxes" to liquid-only fasts for several weeks and everything in between. While the extreme cleanses often get a bad rap—Beyonce confessed that drinking the maple syrup-lemon-cayenne pepper concoction made her "cranky"—many women swear by cleanse diets to lose weight, increase energy, and even help clear up acne.