To Fast Or Not To Fast: 3 Days of Suja Juice

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One of the more common questions I get as a dietitian is about fasting. Forgoing food for several days or a week seems to be a popular choice for many with hopes of detoxing, losing weight or somehow finding a more energetic version of themselves. My typical response is rather cautionary, so I was intrigued when I was offered a free 3-day juice cleanse from Suja after attending the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC). I figured this was my chance. Even though it wasn’t very scientific, since I’m only a sample size of one, I thought I could speak more accurately about the whole process if I put myself through the paces.

So, I ordered my Suja juice and waited. Since they’re fresh, the company wants to get them into your hands as quickly as possible, so they were delivered 2 days later. The poor Fed Ex guy had to carry the 35 lb. box up three flights and I think we were both kind of shocked at the size and heft of the cardboard and Styrofoam necessary for 18 bottles of juice and their requisite ice packs.

18 bottles of Suja juice in box

The directions outlined a plan of 6 bottles per day, in a prescribed order. The way my schedule worked out, I drank 16 ounces (1 bottle) at 6:00 am, 9:00 am, 12:00 pm, 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm. Full disclosure here: I did stray a bit. The bottles were delivered on a chilly day in October and I found myself craving warmth. So I added green tea in the morning, and on the third day I added 8 ounces of soymilk to boost my protein intake.

A nutrition assessment of the daily intake is what gives me pause. If I followed their plan as recommended, it would provide 1100 calories, 12 g protein, 9 g fat (exclusively from Vanilla Cloud), and 232 g carbohydrate. According to the personalized My Plan on the USDA website for my age, activity level, etc. my daily targets are 1800 calories, 46 g protein, 40-70 g fat, and 200-300 g carbohydrate. It just doesn’t measure up for anything but carbs. I’d say my tea’s contribution was negligible but the soymilk on day 3 did bring my totals up a bit.

From a metabolism standpoint, it’s my understanding that reducing calorie intake too much can actually backfire. If the deficit is big enough and lasts long enough, your body responds by getting more efficient: it will adapt and learn to get by on less. Essentially, that means your basal metabolic rate slows down…which is sort of the last thing anybody wants who’s trying to manage their weight. Most of us wish for a faster metabolism so we can eat more calories without gaining weight, not less, so fasting seems like a step in the wrong direction. What the effects are over the short-term (like 3 days) I’m not sure, and the impact would likely vary depending on the individual and the type of fast.

6 bottles of Suja juice lined up side-by-side

My other concern has to do simply with nutrient intake. As absolutely fantastic as vegetables and fruits are, they are but two food groups, meaning they do not provide all necessary nutrients to the human body. While falling short of the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for a couple of days won’t have significant health consequences, I’m hesitant to try it for much longer.

But enough of this long-winded nutrition lecture. Let’s look at the simple pros and cons of my Suja experience:

Pros:

  • With a minimum of 96 ounces, I feel sure I met my fluid goals for the day.
  • The juices are certified organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, vegan, kosher, dairy-free, soy-free, and gluten-free.
  • I loved the convenience of not having to meal plan, shop or cook. That was a real time-saver.
  • I met my recommended intake for fruits and veggies and then some. My target is 4 cups total, and I easily surpassed that with 10.
  • I’m pretty sure the antioxidant levels in my blood have never been higher. I was pouring in a nonstop rainbow of protective pigments.
  • The cleanse is low sodium.
  • The juices did a bang-up job providing the easily-trackable vitamins and minerals listed on the nutrition facts label: almost 800% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin A, 78% DV for calcium, and 710% DV for vitamin C.
  • Unlike some other bloggers have noted, I had no “detox” headache. It may be because I already consume very little alcohol, processed foods, salt, and refined sugar, which they recommended weaning yourself off from before the fast.
  • There were no noticeable health effects except that my sense of smell was heightened, which was a little freaky. It kind of felt like a food-related superpower.

Cons:

  • One of the drawbacks of juicing is that fiber content from the plants isn’t preserved. This was evident with only 2 grams for the whole day when my goal was 25 g.
  • The daily total for iron intake was a mere 16% DV.
  • There’s not a lot of science to support the idea of fasting or the process of detoxing, so I’m not sure cleanses are necessary or that they offer any lasting health benefits.
  • I wouldn’t be able to do this in real life with a cost of $162 for the 3-day supply.

A Little of Both:

  • I love and hate the packaging. It’s beautiful and colorful and wonderful to look at and as a label aficionado I was thrilled to read every inch of the bottles. But the whole project put a lot of empty plastic into my recycling bin. It makes me wonder what the comparison would be with waste from preparing regular meals…
  • Because weight loss is often a claim made by supporters of fasting, I thought it would be interesting to track my progress. I started the fast at 133.6 lbs. Friday morning. I was 131.8 on Saturday, 130.4 on Sunday and 131.2 on Monday. Any weight I did lose was unlikely fat loss. The overall loss wasn’t too significant, and also not surprising considering I was 700 below my target calorie intake. Once I went back to eating normally, I popped right back up to 133.
  • The Vanilla Cloud contains honey, so wouldn’t be acceptable to many vegans. But, they’ll happily substitute another juice in its place.

 

Suja's Purify juice in a mason jar

Purify in all it’s beety glory.

Now let’s talk about what really matters. If this is supposed to be your sole source of nourishment for 72 hours, then taste is a pretty significant part of sticking with it. By far Vanilla Cloud was my favorite. It was the one Suja juice product I’d had before and what got me excited about their stuff in the first place. The creamy almond and coconut flavor really reminded of me horchata (and actually inspired this recipe). According to the recommending drinking schedule, it was the last guzzle of the day and it really did feel like dessert. The Green Supreme made me very happy because it tasted like fresh apple cider, but I was a bit turned off by the overwhelming celery flavor of Purify and the ginger in Fiji.

Here’s the official tasty breakdown in order of yumminess:

1. Vanilla Cloud: 1/2 a coconut’s meat, a spoonful of honey, 12 almonds, a teaspoon of acerola cherry, and a pinch of cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, and camu camu (a fruit from the Amazon)

2. Fuel: 9 carrots, 1 orange, 1 apple, a slice of pineapple, 1/2 a lemon, and an inch of turmeric

3. Green Supreme: 5 apples, 1 bunch of kale, and 1/2 a lemon

4. Glow: 2 apples, 6 celery stalks, 1/2 a cucumber, handful of spinach, 3 collard leaves, 3 kale leaves, and a sprig of mint

5. Purify: 7 carrots, 1 apple, 2 celery stalks, 1/4 of a cucumber, 1/2 a beet, and 1/2 a lemon

6. Fiji: 2 apples, 6 celery stalks, 1/2 of a cucumber, handful of spinach, 3 collard greens, 3 kale leaves, a squeeze of lemon and a hint of ginger

6 bottles of Suja juice

Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for one day.

So, overall my experience was a good one and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have tried something new. I enjoyed the juices and I commend Suja on using extremely healthful ingredients and offering beverages that are far superior to soda and energy drinks. I’m still not sold on the advantages of fasting, so until I see some strong science that supports solely sipping my day away, I’ll stick with a sensible balance of food and drink that’s heavy on the vegetables and fruit, with a Vanilla Cloud slipped in here and there for a creamy almond and coconut indulgence.

 

What are your thoughts? Are you a fan of fasting?

 

Disclaimer: The products mentioned here were given as free samples to conference attendees but I don’t have any relationship with the company and didn’t receive any monetary compensation for this post. However, I am mentioning IFBC to take advantage of a discounted registration fee for the conference. 

24 Comments

  1. What a great post, Kristine. Thank you for breaking it down for us. I’ve never fasted before but I’ve been intrigued by the anecdotal accounts I’ve heard for so long. Your assessment gives me pause, especially the low iron counts. Really helpful.

    • Thanks, Jenni. I’m so glad you found it helpful. I know some folks will disagree with my assessment because they feel like fasting has really benefitted them individually. Once the science catches up we might find many reasons to embrace the practice for better health.

  2. I strayed a bit too. I did the first day okay but ended up hating two of the flavors, Fuji made me gag and the company accidently sent me 1 Glow (which I liked) and 5 Fiji (the one that I could not drink).

    After day two I was down to eating clean vegetarian and finished the juices over a few days.

    I eat all the bad stuff and did not have a detox issue at all. Not a headache in site. I have no idea if I lost weight because I haven’t weighed myself since April.

    But I did love the Green juice so much that I go and buy it at Whole Foods. They also came out with an Essentials line which has more fruit in it and I really enjoy.

    It’s good for on the go. Though I usually just juice or make smoothies myself.

  3. Thanks Kristine for the experiment. I have taken to fasting to help manage my digestive condition, small intestine bacterial overgrowth. I drink water for 12-24 hours to reduce the growth of bacteria in my system when I have symptoms. So, I have often wondered if a regular fast would be a good idea.

  4. I just finished my Vanilla Cloud from the 3-day Core Fresh Start. My experience was positive and I am really glad I successfully completed the 3 days — and that I did not take on the 5-day program.

    The Core Fresh Start has fewer calories than the Original Fresh Start program (840 vs 1100) and Suja says it is for the experienced juicer and for green juice lovers. Okay, that seemed to fit, so undeterred I ordered my juice. Turns out, maybe I’m not so experienced or such a green juice lover. The Core Fresh Start includes 2 bottles a day of a green juice called Twelve Essentials (celery, cucumber, lettuce) in place of Fuel (carrot and orange) and Green Supreme (lots of apples). I wasn’t a fan of the 12E and ended up not drinking all of it on days 2 and 3. Actually, I couldn’t even make myself drink it without feeling a little sick.
    When I started my 3 day program, I had a good headstart because I was already dieting and had cut out red meat, sugar, wheat and processed foods. Day 1: Good. Not hungry, no headache. Loved the Vanilla Cloud treat at the end of the day. Day 2: Lemon in hot water in the morning. A little hungry throughout the day, but I managed it with the juices. Had a “miss my coffee” headache, but I powered through. Evening juice, Vanilla Cloud, I love you. Day 3: Tried the cider vinegar this morning instead of lemon. Yuck. (But how much of a surprise is that?) I was pretty hungry throughout the day, but knew I couldn’t manage the 12E to help my growling stomach. I had some hot tea and water in the afternoon and enjoyed my last Vanilla Cloud at night. Because I skipped the 12E, I consumed 700 calories today.
    I’m feeling great, a little tired, already planning my breakfast for tomorrow morning and I am looking forward to a BIG salad for lunch. My GI tract has been a little challenged over the last few days, but that’s not a big surprise, right? The worst part was that I am in the car and driving a lot for my job. I had to make frequent stops because of all of the fluids, but it was manageable.
    I would definitely do a Fresh Start again. I would like to try doing the 1-day Original Fresh Start once every other week.

    • Hi Sarah. It’s so interesting to read about individual experiences with the juice fasts. Thanks for sharing yours. My favorite line from your comment is, “Evening juice, Vanilla Cloud, I love you,” mostly because I remember that same exact feeling. Thanks for stopping by the site!

      • Thanks, Kristine. As a quick follow-up, with a little bit of solid food on Friday I felt so great and so energized. It was really interesting — and a good lessonn– to realize how on top of it I felt both mentally and physically with some protein. The juice cleanse really helped me get off of my dieting plateau; I lost three pounds and I’m down another pound since then. Yay!

  5. There is a lot of evidence to prove that juicing has long lasting effects. To start with the modern American diet, we do not receive the full amount of nutrients and vitamins on a weekly and monthly basis, let alone a daily basis. Before one can truly embark on a healthy lifestyle it is best to juice up to a period of 90 days to erase the damage that has been done to our bodies with our poor diet. Then we can break the cleanse by immediately adopting a healthy lifestyle. The cleanse is also a period where you learn about your body and listen intuintively and think about how you can adopt a healthy new life. The USDA recommendations are false, too general for a country that is ethnically diversed to be followed by everyone. The nutritional value is also inaccurate and there is evidence out there to prove you, you just have to make sure you actually look before coming to conclusions and making such statements to the public. Dr Coldwell MD, Dr Hyman MD, Dr Furhman MD, amongst other MD and naturopathic doctors agree that the USDA food pyramid is completely inaccurate and the one size fits all approach cannot fit everyone in this country.

    AmateurHealthGuru

    • Hi Trissyann. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I know many people feel strongly that juicing is beneficial. But based on the science I’ve read and my experience as a dietitian, I’m personally still cautious about the practice. I agree the USDA recommendations aren’t perfect, but I disagree that they’re “completely inaccurate” or “false”. You’re right…there isn’t a one-size-fits-all food guide that would serve everyone successfully, but MyPyramid now allows for more personalized recommendations than in the past. Thanks for stopping by the site.

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  7. Suja juices are too fruit heavy to be used for weight loss. There are not enough leafy greens to sustain a juice fast. Without juicing your own fresh vegetables, you cannot do a juice fast.

  8. Btw, I have been able to get off of about 7 medications through juice fasting. I don’t fast to lose weight, but to try and reverse autoimmune symptoms and heal a compromised “gut.” I am steadily improving. My husband only added one juice per day and has lowered his BP from 140+/ 90+ to 108/74. He was also told by his doctor today that he is no longer pre-diabetic. So, you can have all the scientific data you want. The fact remains that 3 years ago, I felt like I was dying, my husband and i both had mild stroke events, and today we are well on the way to health. When I wonder whether it’s worth it or not to juice fast, I take out my journal and read that I had terrible pain with every breath I took. My muscles and joints hurt every time I moved. Every joint in my body was on fire. My kidneys were not working right and I was on about 6 different prescribed meds for allergies as well as weekly allergy shots. After a 2 month juice fast and intermittent shorter fasts over the course of 3 years, I have completely gotten off every allergy med, and my fibromyalgia is SO much better. I have not had a lung or nasal infection in 3 years, where before, I had pneumonia, nasal infections regularly. Right before I started the first fast, I had been on antibiotics each month for 10 months in a row. So, I don’t care about scientific data, all of that is academic. The difference that juice fasting has made to me is life changing. It has literally saved my life. And drinking juice has changed my husbands life although he doesn’t fast.

    • Hi Stephanie. You certainly sound like someone who’s had an extremely positive experience with juicing and juice fasting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  9. Hello I was just wondering what you thought about maybe substituting the drinks for just breakfast and lunch and a chicken salad for dinner for a few days?!!

    • Hi Hillary. Without knowing more about your particular health history, it’s hard for me to give a helpful answer. However, for a couple of days it would probably be OK and it would certainly be low calorie for the menu you described. My concern would be that it wouldn’t be nutritionally adequate in terms of vitamins, minerals, protein, etc. It might seem to be similar to something like a Slimfast meal replacement plan, but these juices aren’t nutritionally similar to Slimfast in terms of carbohydrate, protein and fats. Thanks for stopping by and reading the post!

  10. I am concerned about the amount of sugar in these drinks. I have been trying to find a blog that talks about the sugar content of these drinks. I would like a dietician’s opinion. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Melissa. Being aware of sugar content these days is a valid concern. However, when it comes to nutrition facts labels, it’s a bit of a confusing subject. Currently, labels only list “sugar” which is a combination of natural sugar (lactose from milk, fructose from milk, etc.) and added sugars (high fructose corn syrup, sugar, etc.). So, if the grams of sugar look high, I always check the ingredient list next. I look for names of added sugar like brown sugar, cane juice crystals, coconut sugar, honey, invert sugar, etc. If I don’t see any of those, I know most of the “sugar” in the product is coming from natural sugar.

      The Suja juices don’t contain any added sugar, only natural sugar from the fruit and vegetables (except the Vanilla Cloud which had honey). Whether or not large quantities of natural sugars are beneficial or harmful is still being debated. I would argue that eating whole fruit or veggies, which bring fiber with every bite, is preferable to juicing them. However, if someone didn’t eat many fruits or veggies normally, and were willing to try juices I think it would be a step in the right direction…but with an ultimate goal of transitioning to more whole foods in the future.

      Sorry to be so long-winded! Hope this makes some sense for you.

  11. Does it make you have to stay by the toilet+?? Do you have to constantly go poop like a prep cleanse??? I worry about such horrible accidents on train or at work…

    • Hi Iris. Well, I didn’t have any trouble in that department, but each person could respond differently to a 3-day liquid diet. I definitely don’t think fasting is necessary, so if you’re worried about the possible consequences, there’s nothing wrong with just skipping it altogether.

  12. I’m on my 1 day saga cleansing, I drank the first one at 830 but unsure of when I should drink the next one? Can you help me with the times please? I also check the other juice brand and i found it on this site https://www.juice-2-u.com it seems great. I love to try them both. But it is ok to do that? Like alternately?

    • Hi Mary. I don’t want to make any specific suggestions for you since I don’t know about your situation, your medical history, etc. I can’t imagine the timing of the juices matters that much, so when I did it I just spaced them out equally during the hours I was awake. Best of luck to you!

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