Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Juicetou - Three-Day Detox

Having taken some inspiration from my own Green Smoothie recipe, and the fact it's January (aka: faddy-diet galore) I decided to finally kick off some product testing with a juice detox. Now, let me just get a little rant out of the way. Coming from a nutrition background, I hate the way the word "detox" is bandied around. You do not need to spend money on consumer products in order to put your body through a detox. What do you think your liver and kidneys are for? Their primary function is to filter and process all the good stuff and nasty stuff that we put in our  bodies on a daily basis. Yes, OK, sometimes we overload them but, generally speaking, they are not suddenly going to refuse to work if you don't feed them a smoothie! What's really happening when you drink nothing but smoothies for a few days is you are simply not given your body much to process. It doesn't magically reverse two weeks of Christmas excess. 

Anyway, I decided to see what all the fuss was about by doing a 3-day juice detox. I won't lie, I was totally dubious towards it all but I wanted to give it a fair shot. I chose Juicetou's detox plan, purely because it's the cheapest one on the market. Don't get too excited... "cheap" in juice world is still £70. Due to the day they do their production, they only deliver on Tuesdays for a very reasonable £12(!). This means that you have to start the plan on a Wednesday and go right through until Friday evening. Seeing as you are allowed NO food whatsoever, and can only drink water, fruit teas, and lemon water, you need to plan this around a time when you have no plans and are willing to forgo any exercise, which they advise. If you do the 5-day plan, prepare for even less of a social life. 

Tuesday arrived and a man came a-knocking with my box of 12 juices (four per day), plus two complimentary lemons (I'm being deadly serious). After comparing different company claims, they all really amount to same promised benefits, including:

-weight loss
-increased energy levels
-greater vitality
-clearer skin
-boost metabolism

What's not to love about all that, right? The juices themselves didn't look too bad, if a little on the small side. My dreams of four 500ml bottles had well and truly been shattered. However, the cute little 250ml bottles come with a time stamp so you know exactly when to have them.

9am - Clean Green
Not dissimilar to most green smoothies on the market, this contains spinach, celery, cucumber, apple and lime. This bottle claims to give you "more nutrients than most people receive in a week". Considering there is no nutritional info available, this is hard to dispute! Quite a bland flavour so I added some ground ginger for an extra kick (don't worry, I read the rule book. This is allowed). 

12pm - Let's Glow
Made from oranges, apples, kiwi, grapes and strawberries. This claims to cleanse the digestive system and radiate your skin. Nicest in terms of taste. Not overly sweet (which I like) but pleasant to drink.

3pm - Clean Green
This guy again.

6pm - Berry Good
Contains pineapple, blueberries, strawberries, apple and raspberries. The claim here is that it is "bursting with antioxidants which play a massive part in keeping your cardiovascular system in tip top shape". Strong claim. They forgot to mention it's also bursting with sugar! Not a fan of this had an almost fizzy element to it, as if the apple had oxidised.

In order to track any potential progress, I weighed myself on Wednesday morning before having any juice. I would then weigh myself again on Saturday morning to see if there was any difference. Here's my round-up of my 3-day ordeal:

Day One
Woke up feeling the same as usual and weirdly excited to start the juice diet. I never eat a lot in the mornings anyway so I wasn't hungry when 9am came round but drank the first green juice anyway. It was actually quite nice... not quite a thick smoothie consistency but definitely more substantial than a liquid juice. I started to feel my first hunger pangs around 2.30pm but only had to wait half an hour for my 3pm green juice. It was when it got to 5.30pm that I really started to notice the lack of food. I suddenly became ravenous and had a mind-blowing headache which no amount of water was shifting. I drank the 6pm juice pretty quickly but was still hungry so drank my bodyweight in peppermint tea and decided to get an early night.

Day Two
Woke up feeling tired and had no energy. To make things worse, I was still hungry from the night before and found myself staring at the clock for 9am to hurry up. To cut a long story short, the day didn't progress. I was head-achy, exhausted, felt weirdly nauseous and was already sick of juices. It sounds weird, but I just wanted to be able to masticate (I said MASTICATE). As nice as some of the juices taste, they don't replace the actual feel of proper food! I ended up coming home in a daze and going to bed at 8pm. I was pretty much sound asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. So much for increased energy...

Day Three
Woke up. Blacked out. Slight exaggeration there but, upon standing, I had to steady myself for a good 10 seconds before the black spots dissolved. Good start! Weirdly though, I didn't feel overly hungry. Maybe by this point my body had just accepted the fact it wasn't going to be getting fed for a while. Although hunger wasn't an issue until the evening, I had a serious lack of concentration. Sending a simple email for work took far longer than it should have and then the recipient was kind enough to point out the fact I'd made no sense whatsoever! 
The evening bought along hunger again. I caved and ate a plain rice cake (I didn't even care by this point). Went to bed at a more normal time and waited for sleep to take over and for my life to begin again on Saturday...

So as you can probably tell, I didn't have the greatest time for three days. Don't get me wrong, it is doable, but it comes with A LOT of compromises. Hunger and lack of concentration is one thing but, for me, the biggest downfall was having no energy. I'm a firm believer in combining exercise with healthy diet in order to achieve any weight loss or a general feeling of well-being. The fact that I had ZERO energy, really bothered me. I could deal with not doing exercise on Wednesday and Thursday, but I was practically climbing the walls by the time Friday came around. To make matters worse, I was still so zonked of energy on Saturday that my first gym session was a bit of a joke (3 minutes on the treadmill...I think I've hit a new low). 

Although all juice detox companies will say weight loss is just one possible benefit, it is probably the one that draws people to these things the most. According to the scales, I'd lost 8lbs. Now, I'd love to be naive enough to believe this to be true. However, contrary to my hair colour, I'm not a total idiot. Of course you're going to lose mass on the scales when you have had NO FOOD FOR THREE DAYS! There was literally NOTHING in me. This weight loss was not fat loss, my clothes didn't feel different and I personally don't think I looked different. Considering I'm writing this post a few days later, I can also confirm that, as predicted, that "weight loss" appears to have magically gone back on due to the fact I'm eating like a normal person. IF the weight-loss had been genuine, is that really a surprise? You're depriving your body of its primary, secondary and tertiary sources of energy (carbs, fat and protein). Your body therefore has nothing to feed off but it's reserves. 

As for the other benefits? My colleague did comment on my skin "glowing" on Monday but that was pretty much it! My energy levels weren't back to normal until that day either. I felt less bloated than I perhaps normally would but that isn't rocket science...that's what happens when you don't eat.

Don't get me wrong, I said I'd give this a fair shot, and I believe I did. I can see how this would perhaps be a good way for someone with a significant amount of weight to lose and a more sedentary lifestyle to boost a new healthy regime or to kick start some weight loss. But I can safely say this is not for me. I have a job where I am pretty much on my feet all day, travelling around London. I also have a lifestyle which enjoys doing exercise. The fact I was exhausted in my day job and had absolutely no chance of doing any exercise really irritated me. I would've felt a greater sense of their supposed "increased vitality" had I been able to go for a run and get some endorphins flowing!

Having battled a serious eating disorder myself, I would be a fool to start waving the flag for something which involves restricting your body of food. That may sound extreme, and I'm not saying that by doing a juice diet you will end up with an eating disorder, but as someone who has had one, I would never actively encourage it. 

I'm all for the concept of these smoothies in general. Having a green smoothie is a great way to get a significant amount of nutrients into your body in one quick swoop. In fact, that is something I will take away from this as part of a healthy diet. I just don't agree with existing solely on these bottles, even for a restricted period of time. It would be interesting to see the actual nutritional content and RDAs for each juice.

This is just my opinion. By all means, give it a go if you really want to! However, a word of advice: if you really want to do this regularly, buy your own blender and make the smoothies yourself. You'll save an absolute fortune.


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Randall and Aubin

As a lover of anything seafood or fish orientated, I love discovering new places where that's what they do best. So a big high five to the friend who introduced me to this little beauty, Randall and Aubin. Situated along Brewer Street in Soho, this small establishment gets busy quickly so I suggest you book! Walk-ins are welcome but be prepared for a nice chilly queue outside the door... space inside is limited so don't expect to hang around at the bar. 

Originally London's first French Butchers shop, the French theme continues to run throughout  with a rustic Parisian decor and with a menu to match. This place really is famed for it's fruits de mer (check me out) although they do have a small range of grill options such as rib eye, lamb and pork belly. The prices are slightly above average (who charges four quid for bread?!) but, to give credit where credits due, the food we had was worth it.

To start, we both had the grilled queen scallops with pancetta drizzled in caper, lemon and garlic butter. I'm not going to lie; I was expecting fat, juicy scallops as opposed to these small offerings but they were nice all the same.

I was trying not to over-indulge (for once) so for a main, I went for the 1/2 pint of pink prawns with aioli, with a rocket, mushroom and parmesan cheese salad. Fair enough, this doesn't look much but, right then, that was right up my street. The prawns come with the shell on so, as long as you're prepared to put a bit of effort in, you can't go too wrong. 

I was pretty satisfied with my choice, until I saw my companions meal served up to her. Cue MAJOR food envy. She had the grilled sea bass (my absolute favourite...see where I went wrong?), served with a spring onion and rosemary salsa, and curry dusted potatoes. The fish was cooked so absolute perfection and the flavours of the potatoes and salsa worked so well together. It was a great twist on a classic fish dish.

Next up: cheese. Lots of it. And, thanks to a few cheeky connections, we had cheese in both savoury and sweet form (courtesy of the chef)! Now, I have to say that I usually avoid paying ridiculous amounts for a cheeseboard with very little on it. The only place where I am willing to part with my hard-earned cash for a decent cheeseboard is at Gordon's Wine Bar because it is SO DAMN GOOD. However, for £9.50, the one Randall and Aubin had on offer wasn't too bad. They have a really decent variety of cheese to choose from and you get more crackers than you can shake a stick at. 

When you're getting a free cheesecake, I suppose you can't complain too much about paying for a cheeseboard. This is cheesecake at it's best in my opinion. A plain, baked vanilla classic with the added bonus of salted caramel ice-cream. 

It's pretty safe to say we were both well and truly satiated after all that. If you love fish or seafood, I would strongly recommend giving this place a go. The menu overall is unique in what they have to offer and I genuinely can't wait to go back and give some other dishes a try.


Saturday, 10 January 2015

Green and Clean Smoothie

Well it's a new year and with that, inevitably, comes a whole load of resolutions that, if you're anything like me, have already been broken. Overhauling your fitness and diet regime is probably the most common resolution that people make, yet very few people stick it out. Frankly, healthy diets and exercise shouldn't just be for January; they should be a lifestyle choice that becomes second nature as opposed to making you feel like you've signed your life away. 

The whole Christmas and New Year period often ends up being centered around food and booze which, during times when I used to be way too hard on myself, I found terrifying but I've learnt to just let go and enjoy the time where it is socially acceptable to overindulge! The way I see it now, the more gin and prosecco I can chuck down my neck, the better (although I have to admit, I still feel a bit ropey after new years eve... I'm definitely the wrong side of 25). 
Anyway, if you can't beat them, join them. I have stumbled across a smoothie recipe which I think is great for helping you feel a bit more revitalised. You can almost feel your body thanking you! As green smoothies go, I have to say this one is pretty nice. I've certainly had a lot worse. The avocado gives it a creamy consistency whilst the ginger is amazing for aiding you digestion. You should think of all the ingredients acting to counteract all the crap you've put in your poor little bodies for the past few weeks. 

As I said, a healthy diet should be part of an everyday lifestyle but, if you're stuck with where to start, then why don't you give this green machine a try.

You Will Need:
-1/4 cucumber
-1/2 handful spinach leaves
-1/2 avocado
-1 celery stalk
-1cm piece fresh ginger
-1 kiwi fruit
-300ml water
-1/2 apple
-squeeze of lemon juice

All you need to do is blend the ingredients together in the blender. Easy! For added nutritional value, you can leave the skin on the cucumber. A 1cm piece of ginger should suit most people but, if you like more of a kick, I would definitely recommend adding more.

If this one isn't to your liking, the internet is in total abundance of recipes like this so it won't be hard to find one you prefer. The advantage of smoothies like this is that they are incredibly nutrient dense and so easy to make. Give it a go!