Old 11-20-2003, 07:36 PM
hybrid_dogfish hybrid_dogfish is offline
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Saltaire, UK
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'Juice Fasts', WTF?

A girl I know is planning to go on a 3 day 'juice fast'. I probably dont understand this quite right, but from my understanding you dont eat anything, and only drink water, and fruit and veg juices for 3 days. She claims that this is good for you because it removes 'toxins' and leaves you feeling healthier when you r finished (there is apparently a 'coming off' thing u have to do as well, gradually re-introducing foods etc.).
I say this is all quackery, based on my inability to find any reputable looking sources for these claims (although plenty of people trying to sell you how-to guides) and the claims that it will do everything from cure cancer to increase sex drive. I think that the people claiming to feel better from this are deluding themselves because after feeling bad for 3 days from not eating and then are feeling better in comparison to the last three days.

So, the question is who is right:
Am I missing out on some amazing health improving regieme?
Is she falling for a load of hype and quackery?

Also, if this is quackery, is it harmless, or likely to lead to damage to the body?
Old 11-20-2003, 11:49 PM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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I have yet to see one person who promotes fasting name one toxin that it supposedly removes. I'd like to, but somehow I suspect I won't.

Anyway, it's probably not all that bad for a person who's healthy and has a decent diet to fast rarely, but it's probably not good to do it repeatedly.
Old 11-21-2003, 06:48 AM
SkeptiJess SkeptiJess is offline
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Location: Yorktown, VA USA
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Quackwatch lumps fasting together with colonics and laxatives under "Gastrointestinal Quackery". There are several links on the page at the bottom of the article. And don't miss the letter from a concerned reader at the end...

I don't think the fasting itself will harm your friend long-term. But believing in foolish medical claims might hurt her eventually. Good luck, though -- as we all know, ignorance dies hard.
Old 11-21-2003, 08:41 AM
Otto Otto is offline
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Location: Madison WI
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I went on one of these and felt like garbage after about a day. The book I was following advised me I would feel like crap after a day, so no lie there. Whether that was the result of "toxins" being removed or something else I don't know. It didn't hurt me in the long run and I've talked to nutritionists who say that it doesn't hurt to give your system the occasional break from digesting solid food, so FWIW.
Old 11-22-2003, 10:34 AM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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Location: Chicago,IL
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When I was younger I did this for about a half a year. I didn't really notice any long term benefits or bad effects. I did it on Weekends 2 days only though.

If you are healthy I don't see how it could damage you. Juice is full of sugar so you do get a sugar buzz.

You will probably lose a bit of weight providing as soon as you go off the fast you don't eat to make up for the food you missed.

But again I didn't notice any real benefit or detriment either way.
Old 11-22-2003, 04:08 PM
F. U. Shakespeare F. U. Shakespeare is offline
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I have gone on 24-hour fasts (drinking vegetable juice and tea, and a fiber laxative) every month or so for the past twenty years.

I started doing it in my days as a competitive bodybuilder, after hearing it touted by the noted trainer and author Vince Gironda. He recommended following the fast with a week of veggie-heavy, low-protein meals (bodybuilders are notorious for eating large amounts of protein, which can be tough on the system.) The combination of the fast and the week away form heavy protein intake, he claimed, were good for bodybuilders.

I still train 5-6 days a week, I eat a relatively high-protein diet (albeit less than when I competed), and I do indeed feel strangely rejuvenated after the fast. (If I didn't, I would quit doing them). YMMV.

I have read with mild interest the various claims that fasting is quackery.

Since I have no medical credentials, I will refrain from categorically disagreeing. I will note though:

1) Many of the supposed quack sources are selling special juice mixtures and the like. I am very suspicious of any such claims -- IMO, 90% of health supplements sold are junk. FWIW, Vince Gironda never sold any such supplements.

2) I never fast more than 24 hours, and I concede that longer fasts could be risky for some, if not all.

3) I'm 44, work at a desk job, and regularly lift (and run) ragged co-workers half my age.
Old 11-26-2003, 06:52 AM
SkeptiJess SkeptiJess is offline
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F. U. Shakespeare, do you have a good link on Gironda and his theories? I did a quick Google on him, but didn't find an overview. Did you use his workouts as well as his nutritional advice? My 17 year old son is very interested in bodybuilding and I'm somewhat concerned about his unreasoned trust in supplements and protein shakes. Feel free to email me, if you'd prefer. Or we could start a separate thread so as to avoid hijacking this one.
Old 11-26-2003, 10:00 AM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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Jess, print this out and have your son read it.
Old 11-26-2003, 03:23 PM
g00g00fish g00g00fish is offline
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Here goes...

I'll preface this with the admission that what I have to say is based on knowledge gleaned from a plethora of sources, tempered by numerous personal experiments. I started with Nautilus workouts and Laura Naydeen protein shakes in 1980. I did basic fasts, "lemonade fasts," "juice fasts," and a few other cleansing programs over a 15 year period. I fasted for 10 days to feel what it'd be like, did juice fasts to see if I'd feel healthier, and many other experiments because I was curious. (this would include mescaline, sensory depravation, and skydiving)

What's interesting to me about the juice fast is that it purports to "eliminate toxins;" specifically by "providing unadulterated nutrition and energy while placing a low demand for digestion." Three things: 1.) Without the fiber, the toxins in your intenstines don't have anything to push them along and out. 2.) if the juice isn't organic, the toxin/nutrient ratio may be higher than for "energy dense" foods. (I'm referring to carbohydrate rich vegetables and grains, cows fed on grain fertilized with petroleum products and chickens fed on God-and-Purina-only-knows-what aren't under consideration). 3.) It's all predicated on a stress balance equation: Less energy required for digestion (+), more nutrients for repair (+), however, looked upon as a system, the two pluses may not end up at a break-even when considered with: Work stress, relationship stress, lack of sleep, over/under exercise... So, it could be the equivalent of using high test gas and not changing your oil.

Having said all of that, I submit that if someone fasts (juice or not) for several days--maybe after going on a very high fiber diet (gradually increasing fiber intake over several days), sleeps a lot, spends time stretching and maybe walking or swimming, takes time off of work, maybe gets a couple of massages, drinks lots of water, and does a cleanse with Epsom salts (to flush the digestive system using the correct flow direction)--they've got a pretty good chance of improving their short term health as a result of "unloading" toxins. As for taking three days and drinking juice, I think that the stress of the drastic changes in diet, and the stopping and starting of the digestive flow may mean that you get to be uncomfortable for a few days without much benefit.

I'm basing my remarks on my experience as a result of personal experiments. I consider myself a skeptic , I'll believe it when I experience it. Many of the proponents of fasting have it as part of a lifestyle; not a diet plan, or even a rejuvenator.

I'll save my remarks about the marginalization of legitimate alternative research, along with lumping it in with patent "quackery," for another time.
Old 11-28-2003, 12:36 AM
F. U. Shakespeare F. U. Shakespeare is offline
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Jess, I train by memory these days, and I'm afraid your google search gives you as much current info on Gironda as I have. IIRC, he passed away ca. 1997. His son Guy Gironda was carrying on the family business.

IMO, Vince's training theories were light years ahead of any of his contemporaries. He applied much more objective observations, vice, Well, I saw a really big strong guy lifting this way, so it must be right. He also was one of the first to note the difference between bodybuilding and weightlifting -- i.e., training to get built and lifting more weight. Both have their purposes, but they are not the same thing. IMO, Vince's best training book was called "Unleashing the Wild Physique", published ca. 1984. I had two copies, both of them currently loaned out.

Tell your son what I said earlier in this thread: 90+% of supplements for sale are garbage. Make sure he gets basic nutrients, the ones science and gym rats agree on: vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, multi-minerals. More important than supplementation is to eat well, with an emphasis on less-processed foods. Steak, steamed vegetables, pasta and potatoes (with a cheap, generic vitamin and mineral tablet once a day) will outdo the fanciest supplement program, at lower cost.
Old 11-28-2003, 12:49 AM
F. U. Shakespeare F. U. Shakespeare is offline
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A thirty-second summary of (some of) Vince's training methods (from memory):

- Don't do full squats -- they build the butt more than the legs. Instead, do more upright leg movements, like Sissy squats and hack squats.

- Don't do bench presses -- they work the front deltoid more than the pec. Instead, do incline dumbell presses and wide-grip dips.

- Leave less rest time between sets -- 8 sets of 8 reps each (accomplished in 12 minutes) is better than 5 sets of 5 reps accomplished in 15 minutes. Of course, you have to lift less weight this way, but a bodybuilding workout is not a powerlifting contest.

I'll think of more if I can -- feel free to ask any questions.
Old 11-28-2003, 01:59 AM
SparrowHawk SparrowHawk is offline
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Fasting has been part of many religious traditions for thousands of years and has apparently been deemed beneficial, but that may be a purely spiritual evaluation. On the physical side of things, if this is Pamela Serure's 3-Day Energy Fast, I have done that and found it beneficial. I can't vouch for any other method, but hers is set up to be reasonably cautious and balanced.

1) There is a gradual elimination of certain foods in the weeks beforehand as well as gradual reintroduction afterwards, so the digestive system doesn't get a sudden shock.

2) She strongly recommends using only organic produce. One is intended to make one's own fresh juice and broth each day. There's no shilling for any kind of supplements or shakes.

3) Breakfast for three days is not "juice," but a pineapple-strawberry-papaya smoothie, pureed in a blender, presumably for the fiber.

4) She also strongly recommends choosing three days when physical demands are lightest.

As for toxins, I don't think anything is mentioned specifically, but I got the impression it referred to the ordinary products of food metabolism that the body produces and eliminates, not necessarily gobs of heavy metals and pesticides. I gather if you cut down on the kinds of stuff you take in, it gives your body a chance to rest up from having to process certain things, like nitrogenous wastes, and this is seen as beneficial.

My own experience was that my energy did increase during and after doing this. It may just have been the energy that often accompanies any change in routine, but it certainly did me no harm. I felt a lot better. My caveat would be that, IIRC, she also recommends an enema, which I didin't and wouldn't bother with. The doings work quite well in the direction they're set up to work.

I'm not any kind of food or medical professional, this is just my anecdotal datapoint.
Old 11-28-2003, 08:44 AM
Indefatigable Indefatigable is offline
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Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 321
I think the closest I've ever gotten to a fast is to swear off junk food and processed stuff for a few days, and just drink clear soups and eat raw fruit and veggies. Sometimes I just feel like doing it, and it does feel good afterwards.
Old 11-28-2003, 11:43 AM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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I still would like to know what toxins fasting eliminates that can't be handled by the kidneys and liver during the course of normal digestion.


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