My Detox Experience – Part 2 – Personal Feelings

I will admit, as you might have felt from Part 1, I was a bit skeptical about trying the juice-only detox diet. The main concern most people coming from a mixed Zone/Paleo nutritional lifestyle (generally promoting a diet with a higher than recommended protein intakes) would have, is related to the amount and quality of proteins available in juiced fruits, veggies and nuts… Fats were also a concern, being fruits and vegetables notoriously almost fat-free (although the nuts part was encouraging). Additionally, training an average of 12-15 hours a week, my estimated total daily caloric expenditure ranges between 3400 and 4000 Cal. Would 8 juices be enough to maintain my energy level and avoid losing lean body mass? Starting at a 9% body fat percentage, I did not even want to lose body fat.

For these reasons and to ensure the whole group would be in safe hands, I requested Claudia and Nicole to provide me with the nutritional information about the plan. While initially surprised about the request, as their approach is not based on calories or macronutrient / micronutrient quantification (their words), Claudia got back to me shortly after with information coming from their HQ in Germany. It came as a spreadsheet containing the nutritional information (only macronutrients and calories) about the 9 juices (even if not fully detailed, at least the main information were there).

My total counts showed that daily caloric intake would have been 2650 Cal, coming from 101g of fats (34.3%), 374g of carbohydrates (56.5%) and 61g of proteins (9.2%). Saturated fats would be 18 of the 101g of fats, sugars would made up 317 of the 374g of carbohydrates, with 37g of fibers.

After crunching the numbers, I was partially reassured about the reasonable caloric intake (albeit in theory insufficient for my daily needs) and a good intake of fats and fibers, while on the other hand the high amount of sugars (not added sugars, none of these nasties in Claudia an Nicole’s kitchen, but still very high) and the low protein profile (which however was still within the recommended 0.8g/Kg/day, although of questionable “quality”), were reasons for concern, not sufficient though to stop me from entering the program.

On the morning of the first day we had all our tests done, before officially drinking our first “Good Morning” bottle. It was no real struggle to get through the first day, although I did not like not being able to refuel after the first workout of the day with a rich meal as my usual. In addition, drinking bottles 4 & 7 proved highly challenging… Believe me, the “chlorophyll water” (wheatgrass and filtered water) is a real nasty… I challenge anyone to say the contrary, unless you’re a cow, or a goat, that is… The main “physiological” difference from any other normal day was the frequency of my visits to the loo…!

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The second day went also fairly smooth, although again, training after only one drink for breakfast left me somehow unsatisfied… And similarly not refuelling the way I am used to was also more mentally frustrating than anything else… The intensity of training was still high but the feeling of fatigue was surely more noticeable than usual. Drink 4 & 7 still faced with some hesitation, but then again, if it was all nice and easy, everyone would do it, right? By the end of the day, we also had the first dropout in the group. 6 of us now left to diet…

On the third day I started to see and feel more obvious adaptations… The first one was the heaviness of my legs in the morning. Standing up from bed felt like my 200th deep squat… After managing the get moving and having my morning juice, I felt no need to empty my bowel, a very rare occurrence in my mornings (getting too personal? 🙂 ). After getting to the gym, 2 friends admitted to have had breakfast, as they could not cope with hunger anymore. I personally didn’t feel that hungry, my main feeling was tiredness and heaviness in the legs. I adapted the workout, focusing on my upper body and somehow managed to lift my usual weights. Not being able to join friends for dinner was probably the most annoying aspect of my third dieting day (aside from drink 4 & 7 as you surely know by now!).

The fourth day resembled the third, with increasing tiredness and weakness, now affecting my arms as well. My bowel was still in sleeping mode. I had to force myself into training (at this stage I should have sensibly taken a day off, but I didn’t want to change my initial plans of training as usual) and at a lower than usual intensity, I still managed my 20min interval training followed by 25min circuit session and 15min core workout. While I started to get used to the daily litre of chlorophyll water (humans have amazing adapting skills I realized!), my mood was surely being affected, with my patience being at historical lows and me being highly irritable. I tried an easy indoor tennis match (yes, I’m crazy about physical training, any form, style and shape) I just found myself shouting and screaming like hell at any ball I would not reach, but at the same time my legs were just two heavy bricks to move on court… I’ll admit, I was not enjoying the detox program (I’d better say, it was now really getting to my nerves), but it was one day left only, so I would not give up. I also discussed my feeling with Claudia and Nicole (who very professionally and informally kept following our progress) who offered us a little surprise treat to help us getting through… Despite this, I was stronger than one more of our friends, who gave in to a normal dinner. 7 starting, 3 standing…

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No changes in the 5th day. Claudia and Nicole had been very supportive throughout the week, they even sent some extra nibbles (which I decided not to take, the program was clear, only juiced food…), their help and interest in our reaction to the program surely deserving great credit. My bowel still on holiday, my legs still heavy but not enough to stop me from completing a training session in the morning and the training routine I did on the day before the start of the program in the evening: a 3.5km run, followed by a 22min clubbell session. My running time was surprisingly comparable to my usual and so was my heart rate. I felt like it was all a mind game… And that made me happy…

I woke up on day 6 with the only thought of getting my blood sampled and my body analysed as soon as possible, in order to finally have some eggs and chicken for breakfast… Interestingly, while my pre diet urine collection measured around 400ml (overnight), the post detox passed the 600ml mark… Probably my bladder was doing my bowel job too (no news there, I think a personal best not to get anything from there for four consecutive days)… Despite not being seriously hungry during the 5 days, I had always that feel of “I wouldn’t mind having a bite” and I was by now really craving savoury, umami tasting food… By 9.30am I was done, and by 10am breakfast in front of me…! It really was a joy to restart eating… Training was now an unpleasant experience, despite the normal breakfast. But at least I could not only eat pre-workout, I could finally use the much acclaimed early post-exercise window to replenish my body… A strong mental satisfaction for almost anyone involved with fitness…

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The day went with a single training session and a celebratory dinner at an Italian restaurant (Carnevale, by Jumeirah Beach Hotel, highly recommended!) with my girlfriend. For a food lover like me, not sitting down for a meal for five days proved more challenging than I expected… And eating good food now felt even more pleasant than before…

With Nicole and Claudia consistently supportive and informative, their question now was if I was experiencing the energy boost the program was supposed to give me… I could not say I felt great, but surely, I could say I was restarting to feel better…

It was indeed by day 7 that I can say things were back to normal. My bowel eventually woke up, getting off bed was effortless and I so wanted (and managed) to nail a great workout… Was it an energy boost? Or just returning to normal levels? I honestly cannot say, but it did feel good!

Returning to my usual life and routine (cooking daily, making time for meals the real Italian way, training hard and eating harder and managing more than a couple of hours before having to run to the toilet) was a real good feel… Surely one of the many things I leant from the experience is how hard it is to change habits, even if for a relatively short period…!

And what are my other personal thoughts about my 5-day Active Detox program? It was an as great introspective experience as an unenjoyably physical one… I discovered even more the importance I give to food… From planning the meal, to buying the ingredients, to cooking and eating… I felt I was stripped of one of my great passions, while in return I was enjoying an incredible amount of spare time… During which, unfortunately, I was too tired to do much anyway… Also missing out on a couple of nights out was not fun. Feeling tired and weak and resisting the temptation of opening the fridge was not easy, by a good test of my commitment. The help and support from Claudia and Nicole was impressive. They managed to satisfy any request about delivery time, alternative juices, even sending us the special treat when they felt our struggles…

To sum up my personal thoughts (still not knowing about the objective changes), I can surely say that it was an interesting and more difficult than expected experience. If it wasn’t for the initial commitment and curiosity to see any objective marker changes, I might have given up on day 4, mainly for the unreasonable thought that I was “wasting away”, losing hardly gained muscle mass due to insufficient energy intake and reduced training intensity… (I know it does not make so much sense in just a 5-day period, but I’m telling you, controlling the human mind is no easy task…!). On the other hand I found very positive the personal reflections about my priorities, considering the likely excessive importance I give to my routine diet and my pre and post workout eating habits (science is mainly with me on the importance of energy, macronutrient, fluids and minerals replacement around exercise, but not so conclusively to justify the extent of my frustration).

Would I recommend it? I’m not sure just yet… Let me see what changed in my body and I’ll let you know…! One thing I would at least suggest, to both potential dieters and Claudia and Nicole, is to try to personalize a bit more the approach, as without being too extreme about nutrient intakes, the “one-diet-fits-all” approach seems to limiting to say the least (especially in an “active” population, which might span from triathletes training endurance in excess of 25hrs a week, to body builders lifting several times their body weight, to recreational fit passionates and anything in between..).

Curious to know more? Did I gain weight? Or lose it? Was it fat? Muscle mass? Did my cardiovascular health change? My metabolism? There is so much more to discover, I strongly recommend you stay tuned for the upcoming posts…!