In this new weekly series, I will breakdown different dieting strategies, the pros and cons behind these diets, who they are best suited for, and practical applications for use in your own diet. I will also give out a few different (very easy and simple) recipes to try that relate to the dietary technique being discussed.
For many bodybuilders, juicing means something entirely different than the premise of this article. The juicing I am going to discuss here is probably not “hardcore” enough for many of you, and that’s okay. However, if Steve Laureus can look the way he does while following a prolonged period of juicing, then I think it’s relevant enough to talk about.
Steve believes in taking 3 months off of the bodybuilding lifestyle and allowing his body to detoxify by partaking in acupuncture and a juice cleanse. This is something truly unheard of in today’s bodybuilding world, but it allows him to recover and repair from what he calls “microtrauma”. This approach is followed to hopefully help with overall bodybuilding longevity and health.
A juice cleanse is essentially a set amount of time where you only consume vegetables and fruit (mostly in the form of juice) to help rid of the body of excess toxins and inflammation.
As with any diet topic or program, this is a very broad topic with each individual needing different amounts of nutrients and calories. You can either purchase pre-made juices (very expensive) or make your own. A reasonable amount of time to allow yourself to follow a juice cleanse is 7-10 days.
Who Should Juice?
- Those that are juicing (not with fruits and veggies). Performance enhancing drugs, as we know, are great for our physiques but not necessarily for our health. For those that have been cycling for an extended period of time, this could literally be a lifesaver (not to be too overly hyperbolic). Orals are very hepatotoxic, meaning their effects on the liver are harsh. Ingredients like lemon are very effective in flushing out excess toxins and waste from the liver. It’s also a great way to get your body acclimated to a more normal diet following a long dieting phase. This is especially the case after contest prep. During prep, stimulants are usually pushed high near the end so this is a great way to get over the absence of a stimulant presence.
- Disclaimer: A cleanse is not recommended directly following prep. It would be better to wait a month or two after prep before partaking in a cleanse. Your body will need the extra calories and solid food following what it takes to diet down for a competition.
- Those that have hit a lull in training or progression. Plateaus occur because the body thinks it has reach homeostasis. The body may need a new set point to progress forward.
- Individuals suffering from metabolic damage or struggling with any diet. A complete cleaning of house could be beneficial in resetting metabolism (very controversial statement made by the committee).
Advantages (for a bodybuilder)
- Increase insulin sensitivity. Juicing is very heavy on simple sugars and carbohydrates, yet it has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity and help to prevent resistance. Basically, the only macro consumed during a juice will be carbs, so when fats and proteins are added back in, the body will have an easier time assimilating those carbs.
- It will give the digestive tract a break. Bodybuilders push the digestive tract to the limit by consuming large amounts of solid foods, namely animal protein. Over time this taxes your GI causing distress, which may lead to more serious issues.
- As we have already discussed, the liver is heavily taxed with a lot of what we do as bodybuilders. The liver is our main detoxifying organ, so if it’s not working optimally there could be many negative effects on the entire body. The one great thing about the liver is its ability to regenerate itself over time as long as it’s not too taxed by that point. Giving your liver a break is a great way to improve overall health, increasing insulin sensitivity, and to increase performance.
- It’s a great way to kick off a dieting phase. Appetite typically tends to subside the deeper you get into a juice. Once food is reintroduced, even diet food (whatever that means) will be satisfying.
- Increase hydration. Obviously drinking your meals should increase hydration. With that in mind, it’s crucial to increase overall water intake during a juicing phase.
- Improve performance in the gym. I would not suggest any semblance of heavy weight training during this phase. Instead do just enough to get blood into the muscle, but nothing past that point. You know how baseball players use a batting donut while on deck? This is the same, yet opposite. Your body will be somewhat depleted at the end of a juice cleanse so introducing solid food back in will cause a saturation of nutrients into the muscle making skin splitting pumps much easier to obtain.
- Loss of muscle. This should come back fairly quickly, but it’s inevitable you will lose a little muscle during this time. More than muscle mass, you will more than likely lose muscle glycogen.
- Electrolyte imbalance. Consuming only fruits and vegetables should leave you with enough magnesium and potassium, but sodium will basically be nonexistent.
- Just like any drastic calorie cut, this will be hard on ectomorphs. More than anything else, this is not for everyone.
Fat Dan is a proponent of the juice cleanse for bodybuilders. I never thought I would utter that last statement, but the pros far outweigh the cons. With health in mind this could be very beneficial to all of us, even the most hardcore (which is not me).
Health Minded Green Juice- you will need a good blender
You can essentially rotate out any fruits you prefer.
If making your own juice I would shoot for 4 a day of this size.
- 3 whole apples.
- 1 large cucumber.
- 1 lemon.
- 1 lime.
- 1 cup chopped carrots.
- Handful of fresh spinach.
- Mint (optional).