Serious Eats Goes on a Juice Cleanse: Day 1


The dreaded green juice. [Photo: Robyn Lee]

You can opt for pickup or delivery in NYC the day before your cleanse begins, or overnight shipping via FedEx. The cold juice (enough for 3 days of cleansing) arrived to our office in a cardboard box with lots of little ice packs. Well, two of our sets of juices arrived. The third got tracked down pretty quickly; and thus we were all stocked and ready for Juice-and-Only-Juice Day One! Here are our impressions of the first day of the experience.


Here's what I didn't expect: these juices are filling. Really filling. And they take an awfully long time to drink. While I wouldn't call the green juice tasty (unless you gnaw on parsley for fun), it's pleasant enough as a meal replacement. I started my first bottle at 6:30am and didn't finish it until 7:30. It's not that they're unappetizing, but they are thick enough that they take some effort to drink. I diluted down Juice #2 (pineapple-mint) by at least 50% with cold water, and actually found it much better (it was quite concentrated-feeling otherwise); sipping at my desk, it lasted me from 11:30 to 12:45. I haven't been hungry, probably because I'm never more than a few minutes away from a sip of something. Strange.

By 5pm, I'd only managed to take down three juices, and it was a struggle to do even that. Not because of how they taste, but because my stomach feels so enormously full. Waterlogged-full, but full. I stared down the fourth bottle but honestly felt as if I might be sick if I had anything else. At the same time, I felt all sorts of what I recognize as my own hunger symptoms: cold hands, a cold nose, a persistent headache, dizziness when I stood up suddenly, zero energy, and total irritability (sorry, officemates!), but I didn't feel hungry—as in, craving food or wanting anything else in my stomach—in the slightest.

I did manage to drink Juice 4 eventually (a reasonably refreshing spicy lemonade) and, around 9pm, the cashew milk, but I failed to get through the rest; one green guy, juice #5, never left my refrigerator. I meant to drink it. I really did. But the thought of it made me feel ill.

I don't get it. This job has turned me into a champion eater. I can visit 22 restaurants in a single day, try 30 po' boys in one long afternoon... but five juices is knocking me out?


20110814juicefridge.jpgIt was kind of like waking up on the first day of school. Minus the fact that all of those started with solid foods. Heeding BPC's advice, I sipped some room-temp water first to get the body ready—then it was time for breakfast, the first of two green juices that day. In my mind, I was ready to swallow Naked Juice's thick, fruity-sweet Green Machine. But this wasn't that at all. Much more actual green flavors: a ton of celery, cucumber, spinach, kale, parsley, and romaine. Almost like a drinking a salad with sliced apples on top (many of the juices contain apple). Another thing I wasn't ready for: how hard it was to finish this thing.

It went on forever. Is an invisible BPC fairy refilling my bottle? I took it on the rocks, which spaced it out but even after sipping for a good half hour, only half was gone. They're all pretty throat-coatingly thick (except the spicy lemonade to come), somewhere between juice and smoothie texture. When it was time to leave the apartment, I actually had to force-chug the rest of Green to stay on schedule.

At the office, I kept looking at my watch, spacing out the hours in terms of juice o'clocks. Well, if I have PAM (pineapple-apple-mint) then, that would put me at 4 p.m. for the Green #2, which means, OK, I can get to bed by 11 p.m. But not a minute past 9 p.m. for cashew milk dinner! Next up, PAM, a totally refreshing umbrella drink juice (Ed confirmed such). The closest thing to a brunch cocktail on this cleanse.

Is it really time for another? 2:15-ish, I was behind schedule for Green Number Two. (Green again?) I like Green, don't get me wrong, but it's just a lot of juice, especially for someone who's not a big juice person. Could only finish about 70% of it. Before leaving the office it was time for spicy lemonade, by far the easiest to glug back: light, lemony, refreshing, not juicy-thick, with a cayenne kick at the end.

Some anxious shopping anxiety at Target after work made me reach for a stick of Orbit—okay, two sticks. CHEWING. The act of chewing felt good, and it gave me a little rush. The red juice (#5) was in my bag, and if I wanted to be in bed by 11 p.m. at the earliest, I needed to start chugging. Now. This is where my supportive boyfriend Andrew came in.

Please help me drink this! He looked a little nervous, like I'd dissolve into the ether if I shared. But I insisted. Really, please. I wanted to get to that cashew milk finish line. The creamy, fatty (19 grams of fat in this) drink was a bit grainy but the closest thing to the spoonfuls of peanut butter in my pre-cleanse days of yore.


I woke up this morning afraid of the green juice. Would it be impossible to swallow? I don't often eat vegetables in the morning (except occasionally Northern Spy's kale salad with eggs on top) so it just didn't seem that appealing in the abstract. But it's not that bad, if not exactly delicious. I've heard the stuff grows on you...we'll see. The apple juice flavor comes through, and the celery, though it's definitely more vegetal than fruity, with a slight green bitterness from kale and parsley. I am sure parsley is good for you, but I'm not sure it's an appealing flavor in juice.

After finishing the last bit of the green juice around 10:30 and having some green tea, we all brightened up when we tasted juice #2, a pineapple-mint concoction that reminded me of a mojito. Not bad. Around 2, it's time for the second round of green juice. Diluting it brings out the lettuce, apple, and lemon flavors (in a good way) but also makes it...even bigger. I kept looking at my glass and thinking there should be less juice in it.

All day, I feel full of liquid, if not exactly full of food. But the Cayenne Lemonade goes down easy at 4:30. It's neither very tart nor very spicy...I'd be happy drinking this whenever, thought it's a bit more sweet than I'd generally like my lemonade. My hands are a little bit shaky, I'm not sure if it's related to the juice.

I felt clearheaded until about 5, but then I start getting pretty sleepy. Only a super-entertaining SE editorial meeting can keep me awake, and luckily the team delivers. (Stay tuned for some awesome new columns.) I opened the red juice around 7 pm, fearing borscht-in-a-glass. This one is actually pretty sweet (it's a blend of apple, carrot, ginger, and beet, and the ginger does a lot to mask the beet flavors.) Unless you really, really hate beets (or you're allergic to carrots, Carey-Jones-style) you'll likely be ok drinking this. That said, I couldn't finish it on Day 1. Got about ¾ through over the course of 40 minutes and was so full I needed to stop. In part, I'm doing this cleanse as a break from decadent food and drink; I don't feel the need to chug this stuff past the point of discomfort. One more to go.

Around 9, I slowly sip the cashew milk with vanilla, agave, and cinnamon. A little sweet for my taste (think vanilla Ensure) but it satisfies like a mealy-grainy cousin of the milkshake.

Go back to our pre-cleanse post »
Skip ahead to Day 2 »
Skip ahead to Day 3 »