Reader Question: Juice Fast + Training

>> Thursday, April 25, 2013

Briana asks:  

"I finally watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead a couple weeks ago and Joe's journey with juicing has inspired me. My own eating habits aren't the best especially since I have increased my mileage. I am training for my first half marathon that's in late May. What I'm wondering is if you have any experience with juice fasts combined with regular running?"

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I wrote back to Briana right away because I don't have any specific experience with fasting -- with or without food -- so I'm not the best person to ask. However, her question stuck with me because I think it's a common one these days. I see variations of fasts popping up in my Pinterest feed almost daily.

I've dabbled with juicing, even going to great lengths to make juice at home using my blender versus buying a juicer. In my own experience, when I've had fresh juices -- plain carrot is a favorite -- I feel this amazing rush. Whether that feeling is psychosomatic or not, I don't think anyone can deny adding juice to the everyday diet can be a good thing.

But can it stand alone? I'm not so sure.

And support running? I'm really skeptical.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, a juice fast is when a person chooses to consume only 100% fresh fruit and/or vegetable juices for a set amount of time. I've seen fasts from a few days to months at a time. Proponents claim a number of benefits, including a cleansed and regulated colon, a strengthened immune system, increased mental clarity, increased energy levels, and more (source).

A lot of these quick detoxes or more long range plans look enticing, but when combined with an athletic training plan, my first thought is: BAD IDEA. Since I don't have any first-hand knowledge, I thought I'd toss this question out to you guys.

First, here's some information/personal experiences:

Do Juice Cleanses Work? 10 Truths About the Fad (Huffington Post)
My 14 Day Juice Fast (HighExistence)
How I Ran 20 Miles Whilst Fasting (Running On Juice)
Beginner's Guide to Juice Fasting (Living Green) 
Burning Runner: Preparing for a Juice Fast (Competitor)
The Juice Clease: A Strange and Green Journey (New York Times)
10 Tips for Before, During, After a Juice Cleanse (MindBodyGreen)
Intense Exercise During Juice Fast? Is it Even Possible? (Nina Cherie, Ph.D)

I am inclined to keep eating a balanced diet while training -- complete with all the food groups -- adding in juices for an extra boost.

Briana's question inspired me to make a fresh batch of juice at home last night. I combined 3 apples, 2 blood oranges, and 8 carrots with a good amount of water + blended in my Ninja blender (or, as we affectionately call it, the poor man's Vitamix) + ran it all through some cheesecloth to strain. 8 cups of juice in all.

I guess my (somewhat ignorant, but I don't mean in the pejorative sense) answer is that I don't think drinking ONLY juice while training for a half marathon is a good idea. I think adding juices to your diet might help you clean up messy eating habits and give you some of the benefits without having to make a drastic change. I'd wait until the race is completed to try a full-on juice cleanse.

What's your take on this question?

Can you smash 20-mile runs drinking only juice? I'm not promoting or condemning the practice. It's such a massive trend these days, I think it's an interesting topic for discussion!

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