The 10-Day Juice Cleanse Challenge

Get juiced the healthy way and feel the power

Matt Shook (l) and Bryce Spears of JuiceLand
Matt Shook (l) and Bryce Spears of JuiceLand (Photo by John Anderson)


1625 Barton Springs Rd., 480-9501
2307 Lake Austin Blvd., 628-0782

I first met Matt Shook, owner of JuiceLand and partner at Juicebox & Soup Peddler, in the summer of 2008 while he served fresh-pressed juice cocktails out of a tiki hut at the Belmont (see "Four Cutting-Edge Cocktails," July 11, 2008). I've patronized his shops since, and in October, I stopped by to ask about the split between Daily Juice and JuiceLand. "It was kind of like hitting the 'refresh' button," he said, adding that JuiceLand locations would focus on producing bulk cleanses. He went on to explain all the benefits of cleansing the body with a juice fast and said he'd love to get my perspective as a "food person." He was so enthusiastic that I agreed on the spot (I have never met anyone whose last name fits their personality so well.) I must confess that I really had my doubts. I couldn't imagine myself going without food or wine for 10 days. But I rarely shy away from a challenge.

The staff at JuiceLand doesn't offer guidance on cleanses ("People can consult with a nutritionist or dietitian if they want," he said), but they certainly offer support. The website features a section allowing customers to pick from a variety of custom cleanse packages, pay online, and pick up their orders. Since I was a total novice and Shook saw my participation as his "special experiment," he gave me some pointers. My daily diet would consist of a half-gallon of Love Cleanse – an emerald-green elixir of coconut water, cucumber, celery, parsley, spinach, and kale – plus three to four selections of juices for flavor variety. I stuck mainly with a rotation of the tangy and savory Ninja Bache­lor Party (pineapple, jalapeño, celery, kale, spinach, parsley, and salt); the Thai-salad-in-a-glass Tree of Life (carrot, turmeric, coconut, ginger, lime, cayenne, and beet); the creamy and filling Tri-Pinnacle (coconut, avocado, spinach, and kale); and the cleverly named Xtra Holla Pain Yo! (habanero, jalapeño, garlic, carrot, orange, cilantro, lime, and salt), which I later customized as a Vampiro, a juice popular in Mexico City, by substituting beet and celery for the orange. I drank yerba maté tea whenever I needed an energy boost. "Whenever you start feeling like you can't do it or are ready to quit, just drink the juice," said Shook. "That is your mantra for the next 10 days. Get the juice from wherever it's convenient, like Whole Foods, Juicebox, or any other place, as long as it's fresh-pressed, not bottled." Bryce Spears, manager at JuiceLand's Barton Springs branch, was starting a fast the same day as me. "It's all in your head; just remember that," he said. And off I went.

The first few days were absolutely excruciating. My guts grumbled constantly, sometimes so loudly they startled my dogs. Watching commercials was painful - even the nasty "flaming-hot extra-crunch burrito" sounded good. I wasn't missing much as far as flavor, and in general, I felt full, but there was still a sensation of something missing. It was all in my head; just drink the juice. By the fourth day, I noticed a metallic taste and a fuzzy feeling on my teeth. "You might be experiencing some ketosis," said my chef friend Pamela Nevarez-Fisher. "Many people, including myself, go into ketosis during a long fast. It's when elevated ketones build up in your body. The good thing: you're burning fat now and are probably a lot less hungry?" I had no idea what building ketones meant, but I noticed weight loss and less hunger by the sixth day. I felt fantastic, had lots of energy, and even my dreaded allergies had subsided considerably. I watched a movie Shook recommended, Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, for inspiration. What an eye-opener. I embraced the juice fast with an almost militant conviction, proud of my self-control.

My first taste of food, a bowl of pho from Elizabeth Street, was glorious but not because I was dying to eat. "After a juice fast your taste buds are clean and you taste everything more intensely," Shook had told me, and he was right. So I've decided to do a juice fast every three months. I couldn't have predicted that I would become such a convert; I drank the proverbial Kool-Aid, all right.

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