Cleansing for Curiosity

So detox diets and juice cleansing are on trend right now but people have really mixed opinions on them, so I've been meaning to try it for myself  for a while. I wanted to see if they had noticeable benefits and explore how I felt doing one and whether I'd recommend one. 

 Acorn blends are actually delicious, who'd have thought.

Acorn blends are actually delicious, who'd have thought.

To indulge my curiosity I rang the really nice people at GreenLeafOrganics  and enquired about the range of cleanses they have. I told them maintaining my energy is important to me, because amongst other things, I work as personal trainer and coach competitive Muay Thai fighters and boxers  so I have a really physical job, as well my own work out regimen I hate to deviate too far from.  They recommended the single day Fit Cleanse for me to start with and try a two day juice cleanse in a fortnight. The Fit Cleanses is plant based and suitable for vegans, using either grown chemical free or organic ingredients.  Most ingredients were certified as raw (as in, not heated to damage nutrients) and refined sugar free too. The smoothie blends are a combination of nut milks,  vegetables and fruits, with added plant protein powder. It sounded like a good option to maintain my routine, so I swung by their store to collect it. 

I  kicked the day off at 7am with the appropriately named Sunrise, and proceeded to sip the full range throughout the day. I got to consume a smoothie every couple of hours and while obviously not a filling meal, the bircher was a nice addition,  as fasting from solid food when you're not used to it can be a little emotionally taxing and sometimes just chewing something not only staves off hunger pangs, it deals with the craving to eat, so I snacked on it a little over the day. Everything actually tasted good too, which was a bonus. 

While  I consumed a lot less calories throughout the day than I usually would, I actually didn't feel excessively hungry. By the afternoon I haddeveloped a bit of a headache because I normally drink about three coffees a day, so I snuck in half a cold brew to stave that off, but other than that I stuck to the plan. As the day went on I actually felt a little more clear headed than usual, but perhaps a little tired, which was interesting to observe, though I had shitty sleep the night before so that could have played a part.   At 5:30pm I taught boxing and did an hours sparring, which anyone who has given it a go will tell you is some pretty hard shit to to do. Sparring I felt a little sluggish, it I didn't get punched in the head any more than usual, and I didn't at all feel lacking in energy to get through it.  I had my final smoothie blend after the session to get some protein in and replenish the glycogen (that's the stored glucose in your body)  back into the system, and finished off the last of the coconut water that was part of the package to help rehydrate.  I  went to bed and had a dope  sleep (the reduction in caffeine surely helped!), and actually woke up feeling noticeably more energetic, a feeling that's lasted the last  the next couple of days.  

 

 Bircher to snack on.

Bircher to snack on.

I think a big thing about a juice cleanse or partial fast is that it makes you really mindful of food and what you're ingesting. I generally pretty well, but sometimes can slip into bad habits ( excessive caffeine intake for example!), so it was a good opportunity to be really considered about things.  If on the other hand you eat a generally shitty diet, a cleanse could be a good opportunity to take break your habits. 

Now I'm not a dietician or nutritionist  just a dude who trains a lot and cares about what he eats, and I wanted to understand a bit of the science behind cleansing, so I rang my bro Cliff Harvey, a lecturer and researcher about nutrition.  I told him what I'd done for the day, and he explained that "going on a periodic fast" is a great way to help reset your metabolism (the process and rate your body turns food into energy) and even potentially help your immune system.  He described juice cleanses as a modified fast, and for the duration of the cleanse I'd effectively been on a lower calorie, high nutrient, maybe lower carb type diet.  Doing that, I could have been resetting my body and  "helping it to burn fat more effectively" by getting it  tap into it's own fat stores more effectively for energy rather than relying on sugar. The better we can be at using our fat stores he explained, the less reliant we are at having to get more sugar in and thus reducing sugary cravings.  He said it was important to note that when choosing a cleanse , that your not just swapping one shitty diet for another shitty diet as some juice cleanses are really high in fructose being all based around fruits so it's important to find one that's more blended. That said, any sort of day when you're reducing processed and refined foods and swapping them for something more nutrient rich is a good thing.

Overall, I had a really positive experience with my cleanse.   I think if you're looking to reset your diet or start a new routine it's a good way to go. It's not a miracle cure to any ailments you may have but it's a good way to reflect and be more intentional about what you're consuming, as well as spending a day ingesting a lot of really good nutrients and excluding shit that's bad for you. The trick would be then not to go back to what you know and maintaining a balanced diet of whole foods that continues to be more natural and more unprocessed than packaged. If you try one out, let me know how it goes!