Can I live on fruit smoothies?
January 30, 2012 7:26 PM   Subscribe

I've begun a sort of juice fast / cleanse... How long can I subside on this?

I recently watched the movie Fat Sick and Nearly Dead which really inspired me. I'm a skinny guy who lifts weights regularly and I'm just trying to get ripped.

Since yesterday I've been making smoothies consisting of 1 scoop whey protein, cucumber, carrots, strawberries, orange, grapes, and banana. I drink maybe 3 or 4 of these a day and I haven't eaten anything whole since yesterday. I plan to go on as long as I can.

Is there is enough nutritional content in these shakes?
posted by ascetic to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Dude, starting something and THEN asking if it will be sufficient/if it won't kill you/if it will make you ripped is doing it backwards.

If you want to stick with the smoothie route, you need to look into the nutrients and then figure out how to make a smoothie that does what you want it to do -- and nothing else.
posted by Madamina at 7:38 PM on January 30, 2012

You'll be fine; pureeing food doesn't ruin its nutrients or anything.
posted by ftm at 7:41 PM on January 30, 2012

The biggest thing that jumps out at me is that that is a very low fat diet. You'll end up with low levels of vitamins A, D, E, and K, among other things.
posted by anaelith at 7:50 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

Your body needs dietary fat. None of the foodstuffs you've described have more than negligible amounts of fat. A lot of the vitamins in fruits and vegetables can't be absorbed without dietary fat.

I have also heard, but a little googling produces mixed messages, that pureed fruit spikes blood sugar levels more than whole fruit because the sugar hits your bloodstream faster, or something. If anyone else knows anything about that, I'd love to get the true story.

Bottom line: eating any really restricted diet, especially one made up primarily of sugar, isn't going to be good for you long-term. Absolutely, eat more fruits and vegetables. But also eat protein (not powder, real food) and healthy fats, and eat a wide variety of foods.
posted by decathecting at 7:51 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

If you lift weights regularly you need to include some fat in your diet. At a minimum.
posted by dfriedman at 7:52 PM on January 30, 2012

Put yogurt in your shakes. Or whole milk. Or, hell, even a raw egg or two.

But you need fat.
posted by dfriedman at 7:52 PM on January 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

Ask a doctor.
posted by sugarbomb at 8:01 PM on January 30, 2012 [6 favorites]

I saw the movie too, got inspired. Was in the middle of starting strengh weightlifting routine. After 7 days I was ruined and fear for my safety lifting weights. Got too light headed doing squats. lost a lot of my gains, but hey I was cleansed.
posted by bleucube at 8:17 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Apparently quite sometime.

It's on netflix streaming and it's fascinating.
posted by straight_razor at 8:18 PM on January 30, 2012

I eat similar smoothies for breakfast every day, and when I know I need a little more oomph I toss in a scoop of peanut butter or some other nut or seed butter. Adds some fat and protein, which you need. I also put in a spoon of Benefibre (or the no-name knockoff).
posted by arcticwoman at 8:19 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

No you can't live on fruit smoothies. Jesus Christ.

"I'm a skinny guy who lifts weights regularly and I'm just trying to get ripped." If by ripped you mean extremely low body fat percentage, then start eating like a bodybuilder shortly before a competition: calorie restriction, lean chicken breasts, vegetables. And then give up in a week, because even bodybuilders are only ripped for a short period of time, long enough to compete, and in competition shape bodybuilders are weak and dehydrated with wasting muscles.

If by ripped you mean "conventionally attractive body," then eat real food for fuck's sake. Can you tell how angry this is making me? It's making me angry. I can't tell if you meant that you like being skinny or if you were calling out your skinniness as something you're trying to deal with, but if it's the latter, you have to eat real food to stop being skinny.

Finally, regardless of the effect on your appearance, you will get rabbit starvation if you don't eat some fat.
posted by telegraph at 8:24 PM on January 30, 2012 [30 favorites]

telegraph is spot on, on all points.

If you're skinny, really skinny, dropping your bodyfat percentage will just make you look skinnier. Not ripped. Ripped, by every standard I know it, requires a pretty decent amount of muscle mass IN COMBINATION with low bodyfat. And anything below about 7% is unsustainable in the long term for 99% of the population, anyway.

Also, Mister Nearly Dead does not (from what I can tell) advocate juice fasting for more than five days in a row anyway. Juice fasting is meant to be a SHORT TERM way to eat a high-nutrient low-calorie diet to give your body time to 'catch up on repair' without having to worry about digesting new crap you're putting in. Also, your fruit smoothie fast doesn't have nearly enough green shit in it.

Juicing is about getting all of that good green phytochemical action in your body without filling your belly up with pounds of fiber, not drinking high-glycemic-load fruity milkshakes that lack in essential nutrients, dietary fat, and probably protein too.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 8:33 PM on January 30, 2012 [8 favorites]

4 scoops of whey protein is like 80g of protein, which is really low if you're just trying to maintain strength gains during a diet, let alone actively lift.
posted by Benjy at 8:42 PM on January 30, 2012

I was weirdly curious about this question so I put your smoothies into a food calculation app (CRON-O-meter). I assumed each smoothie has 1 scoop (21g) whey protein powder, 1 carrot, 1 cucumber, 1 cup strawberries, 1/2 cup grapes, 1 banana and 1 orange. I assumed you are drinking 4 a day.

It claims you are getting 1688 kilocalories, of which 98g are protein, 360g are carbs and 10g are fat. This is way low in terms of overall calories for a tall guy who weightlifts, and very low in fat. 59% of the fat is from omega 3 and 13% from omega 6. This is the right way round, but you probably need more of both.

You are getting insufficient Leucine, Methionine, and Valine and slightly under ideal Tyrosine (94% of recommended).

You are a little short on vitamin B12 (83%) and B3 (92%), and extremely short on vitamin D (0%) and E (37%). Vitamin D your body can synthesize if exposed to enough sunlight, though.

You are also short a little bit on zinc (85%) and a LOT short on Iron (57%) and Selenium (62%).

The ones I've bolded are the ones I'd most worry about, if I were you, because they fall short enough that you wouldn't be able to make them up by just drinking more of the same smoothies.

Also, don't overlook that I probably far overestimated how much of each fruit and vegetable you are putting into each smoothie.
posted by lollusc at 9:10 PM on January 30, 2012 [6 favorites]

Your question makes no sense to me. That movie does not promote a diet that consists solely of fruit smoothies with weight lifting. The movie promotes juicing (which is different than blending a smoothie), they advise you to consult a doctor before doing any sort of fast, and their juicing recipes consist of mostly leafy greens. Everyone else's advice above is spot on. If you are looking to bulk up, you're doing it the completely wrong way.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 9:20 PM on January 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

Are you still trying to gain weight? This isn't how you do it. Find your Basal Metabolic Rate, multiply it by 1.5, and add 500 calories to that number.

You don't need a cleanse. You need to not like crap. You're not going to gain weight or strength like this. Find a better source of advice.
posted by phoebus at 9:23 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, as far as the Fat Sick And Nearly Dead juice reboot, THE DUDE DOESN'T JUST DRINK JUICE EVERY DAY FOREVER.

from the reboot your life (movie affiliated) website's healthy eating guidelines, on protein:

6. Think about protein in a new way. When you are not on a Reboot, you should be eating protein. Protein is essential for a healthy immune system, building and maintaining lean body mass, regulating the speed of digestion, and overall energy levels. As Americans, we eat lots and lots of animal proteins like meat, poultry and pork. The typical American plate is 50% animal protein, 25% overcooked vegetable and 25% starch like white potatoes. Health advocates recommend reshaping our plates for balanced, healthy eating. Recreate your plate by shifting to 50% plant foods like vegetables or some fruit, 25% lean protein and 25% whole grain.

That means Joe and his team are recommending, on a ~2000 kCal 'maintenance' diet , around 125g of protein from just from 'lean meat'-type sources, without even beginning to take into account the protein you'd be getting from those plant and grain sources, or the fact that they're talking about these sources by volume and not caloric density (which is what I calc'd 125 on). 25% by volume would likely mean even higher protein recommendations.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 9:27 PM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

A girl on a forum that I'm on lived on juicing for 30 days but then stopped because she kept smelling fat and oils in things. Another forum member suspected that it was because she was short on salt and healthy fats. If you're short on salt, I recommend miso soup (the real stuff if you can get it, not just packets).

I also recommend adding avocados to your smoothies and upping the green parts (change your cucumbers for spinach for instance). The person who suggested yogurt also has good points.

Hang out over here: or find raw vegan forums.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 12:13 AM on January 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

I just watched that the other night. I'd note that the Australian guy who made the movie as well as the (much more inspiring and interesting) American truck driver (Terry?) he convinces to try it were both trying to lose significant amounts of weight. I think they both ended up doing it for 60 days. They (and everything else I've ever read) suggests that there's a real dip in energy 4-7 days into the process. It is "ascetic" though.

I have no medical or nutritional experience, but I'd guess that juicing may be a good thing to do every once in a while if you're interested in losing weight or maintaining a level of health and weight. Its hard to see how it would help you "get ripped" or gain weight.

For that, you probably want to go over to the other end of the spectrum and look in the direction of Tim Ferriss, the paleo crowd and other acolytes of high-protein living.

But to pile onto others - more reading, research and maybe a conversation with some people who know your name and medical history before you try anything dramatic.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 5:46 AM on January 31, 2012

Is there is enough nutritional content in these shakes?

No. If your goal is to get "ripped" and you are currently skinny, why in the hell would you eat a high-carb, low-protein, low-fat diet?

You don't need to "cleanse" or "detoxify" your body with sugar water. You need to eat real food - that means quality meat, eggs, vegetables - in large quantities, and you need to lift heavy things. This is how it's done. Football players and sprinters and bodybuilders, natural or otherwise, don't chug juice drinks for "as long as [they] can."

I am begging you to educate yourself with something other than terrible documentaries that are pushing a weird agenda before you continue to make these absurd dietary choices.
posted by a_girl_irl at 8:11 AM on January 31, 2012 [5 favorites]

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