Should you try a juice diet?

6 October 2014 by
First published: 27 September 2014

If you’re feeling more blah than brilliant then read on for Joanna Benecke’s lowdown on whether you should try a juice diet

Overdone things during the summer and need some help getting back to healthy routines for autumn? Then juicing is a great way to start. It’s far easier to down a load of juiced vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in a glass, than to chomp your way through five carrots, two courgettes, three sticks of celery and a lump of ginger.

The emphasis is on veg – far lower in sugar than fruit

Try a juice detox package
It’s a bit of a baptism of fire, but a juice cleanse will get you instant results – perfect if you want to reboot your system, ease digestive problems, or get a flat tummy in time for an autumn wedding. By buying a detox you don’t have to make the juice yourself; when you’re cleansing you can feel a bit weak so it’s nice not to have to source the veg, clean the juicer, worry about recipes etc.

I took the plunge and signed up for a 3-day juice cleanse with one of my favourite gyms, The Lomax, based in London’s Chelsea. It’s one of the best-value packages available (£25 a day) and is comes in 1, 3 or 5-day courses.

Each day I power-walk to the gym and pick up my 5 juices, which have been freshly prepared for me using a cold-press juicer. The Lomax’s nutritionist has put together the perfect fruit and veg combinations to create yummy juices that all taste very different. The emphasis is on veg – far lower in sugar than fruit – but don’t worry, these colourful juices aren’t too earthy:

METABOLISM KICKSTART – apple, fennel, lemon, ginger + cayenne pepper
(Anyone who thinks juice is boring needs to try this. Zingier than a Bloody Mary!)

THE ALKALISER – spinach, kiwi, cucumber, lime, celery + parsley
(Green and soothing, but the lime and celery give it a nice kick.)

THE CLASSIC – apple, carrot, lemon + ginger
(Refreshing and very moreish.)

DIGESTIVE AID – carrot, orange, fennel, mint + ginger
(Sweet and utterly delicious! Almost better than chocolate.)

IMMUNE BOOSTER – kale, carrot, pepper + ginger
(A salad in a bottle. It’s not my favourite, but I know kale is a superdooper superfood so drinking this makes me feel virtuous!)

Juice Cleanse Diary
DAY 1: I’m buzzing after my first juice (think it’s the cayenne pepper), but have some serious bread cravings around midday. By my afternoon juice, however, I’m feeling great – energized and buzzing, not in the least bit peckish. At night I fall asleep easily, free from hunger pangs and my usual thoughts of toast.
DAY 2: I’m hungry when I wake, but my first juice fills me up. My stomach is bloat-free and flatter than it’s been in a long while. I also think my skin looks more glowing (though that might just be the effects of the cayenne pepper.) I have head rushes when I get up and need to take things easy, which makes sense; I’m giving my body a rest, internally and externally.
DAY 3: By now I’m a seasoned juicer: consuming nothing but juice, water and herbal tea seems perfectly normal and I look with surprise at all the people eating sandwiches at lunch as I sip my third juice of the day. I’ve beaten the bloat, reset my system and proven I can cope without solid food for three days. (But I am looking forward to some tofu scramble on rye tomorrow.)

Home juicing
Want to make your own juices? You’ll need one of these:

The Magimix Juice Extractor (£149.95) is a centrifugal juicer; the extraction happens through spinning, a process that produces heat. This means that some nutrients are lost and the juice should be drunk immediately. For first-timers who aren’t going to juice that often, this is a good option. The feed tube is big (it will fit a small apple whole) so not much chopping required. Easy to clean.

The Hurom 700 Pro Cold Press (£299.99) is a slow juicer with the easy-clean convenience of a centrifugal. It’s cold-press mechanism means more nutrients are preserved and the juice can be kept in the fridge for a day without going off (though it’s always most nutritious if drunk immediately). You have to chop the produce into small pieces and insert them carefully to avoid clogging as the machinery is sensitive.

Master juicer
The Oscar Neo 1000 Juicer (£279.99) is an old-school style slow juicer and the world’s first ‘Ultem Tough’ juicer. It’s slow because it’s busy preserving the most enzymes and nutrients possible, getting the highest juice quantity from both soft and hard produce. This is one for hardcore juicers who don’t mind waiting for their juice and then spending time cleaning the machine. It’s also great for mincing veg, making nut butters, houmous and fresh pasta. Comes with a 10-year warranty on parts.

Shop your juice
If you’re short on time – or not sure if you even like vegetable juice – pick up a bottle of Vegesentials cold-pressed fruit/veg blends. Designed by dynamo mum Patience Arinaitwe-Mugadu who wanted to find a way to get children and adults to eat more vegetables, the juices contain a 50/50 split of fruit and veg. My favourite is Celery, Apple & Kale (who’d have thought drinking celery could be a pleasure?).

Juicy tips

Drink your veg, eat your fruit
It’s important to eat some whole fruit and veg every day in order to get a healthy dose of fibre. Fruit generally has a higher sugar content than veg, so, to avoid sugar highs, think: eat fruit, drink veg.

Use a straw
Fruit and veg contain high levels of acid, which wears down enamel. Plus, you don’t want your juice turning your pearly whites a greener shade of Shrek. So always use a straw.

Drink before meals
Drinking a glass of vegetable juice about 30 minutes before a meal can help with digestion, and might also mean you eat less.

Water content
Some veg – like kale or spinach – will only yield small amounts of juice and can taste quite bitter. It’s a good idea to mix with carrots, apples or some other high-juice produce, or top up with filtered water.

Chat to me on twitter @joannabenecke