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Since I started my food blog at the beginning of the year, I have been visiting at least a few new restaurants every week. Recently, I have been stuffing myself a little bit more than usual due to the cold weather, so I decided to go on a juice detox. There are two main companies that do juice cleanse in Hong Kong: Punch Detox and Genie Concepts. Punch Detox does 3-day juice cleanses at $1,680, and you can get a discount if you do two 3-day cleanses back-to-back or do it in a small group. Genie Concepts does 1-day ($600), 2-day ($1100), 4-day ($2200) and 6-day ($3200) cleanses. I picked Punch Detox as I have seen them collaborating with Pure Yoga on a detox workshop, and their juices are organic.
With Punch Detox, you can start your 3-day cleanse on Tuesdays or Fridays, and I started mine on Friday. (You can start on any day with Genie Concepts.)
(1) The Experience
Pre-detox: You are supposed to prepare for your 3-day cleanse by cutting down on caffeine, meats etc, in order to make the cleanse easier. Unfortunately, the night before my detox I went for a huge hotpot gathering, and had 6 pieces of Pierre Hermé white truffle macarons that my brother bought from London as dessert! (These white truffle macarons were absolutely heavenly. They were less sweet than the other macarons and had an alluring, sensuous white truffle taste and some crunchy hazelnut bits. It is rather unfortunate that they don’t have a shop in Hong Kong yet!)
Day 1: The upside of stuffing myself before the detox was that I was still full in the morning of Day 1, and a bottle of juice for breakfast was exactly what I wanted. However, since it was a Friday and I was still at work, I had a caffeine craving and couldn’t help shooting jealous glances at people who had a cup of hot coffee in their hand. I wasn’t feeling too hungry on Day 1, as 6 bottles of juices was a lot of fluids in addition to the water I drank.
Day 2: A list of possible detox symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, dry mouth, irritability… It sounded scary, but I was almost disappointed when I didn’t experience any of these! My friends who went on the detox also found it as undramatic as I did. S, a fellow foodie who practically lives off cupcakes, didn’t feel any cravings at all and J, a small-framed college student, couldn’t even finish the 6 bottles of juices. You could exercise during the cleanse as long as it’s not something too strenuous, so I went to a yoga class on Saturday.
Day 3: You are supposed to drink juices #1 to #6 in order, but I got really bored by the third day and opened all 6 bottles and started drinking from all of them randomly. I spent my morning watching Suits at home, and all was well until I had to head back to the office to finish off some work – I really needed coffee in order to concentrate and even though in the end I managed without it, I had a headache and it didn’t feel great at all…My stomach was starting to feel quite empty by Day 3 but I wasn’t deliriously hungry.
(2) After the cleanse
While you are supposed to ease into and out of the cleanse gently, I went out of it as abruptly as I went into it, and ended the cleanse on Day 4 with a piece of chocolate cake (since it was literally lying on the dining table!) Even though I don’t think my eating habits changed, after 3 days of living on fruits and vegetables juice, I found the chocolate cake really heavy and couldn’t finish it.
I lost around 2.8 lbs and my normally huge appetite got smaller. However, remember that the juice cleanse is a detox programme, not a diet, so I’m not sure how long-lasting my weight loss would be. It was a hassle, initially, for me to steer clear of meal gathering for 3 days, but after I had started I realised how liberating it was to not have to think about what I had to eat the entire day. I would recommend it as I felt quite refreshed afterwards, but you should decide how many days you want to do it for – I personally think 1-day mini detoxes would have been great, while some people think that you should do it for at least 6 days for a more dramatic result. Some readers find the juices expensive and ask me if they should make their own juices – my answer is: of course, if you have time!
(4) Taste of the juices
I was telling P, a personal trainer, about the juice cleanse and while he supported the idea of eating lots of fruits and vegetables, he couldn’t understand why we should choose to drink juices over eating salads. For me, it was because drinking juices is so much easier than spending hours munching on salads!
#1: Citrus Punch
Ingredients: Lemon, ginger, cayenne pepper, agave nectar, filtered water
Benefits: A universal “master” cleansing drink, our #1 is the perfect way to wake up your digestive system in the morning. Lemons provide vitamin C and dissolves toxins in your body. Ginger and cayenne pepper build heat to get your metabolism and circulatory system going. And agave nectar is the perfect way to sweeten without raising your blood sugar levels.
The Citrus Punch is supposed to be “breakfast”, and it tasted like sweet lemon water, with a slight hint of ginger which was warming and suitable for a winter morning.
#2: Green Punch
Ingredients: Parsley, cucumber, green apple, kale, celery, bitter gourd, spirulina
Benefits: Dark green vegetables contain a rainbow of essential vitamins and minerals essential for the cleansing functions of the liver and kidneys. These greens are highly alkalizing to your cells—this counters the damage done by the corrosive acidic waste products from meat, sugar, dairy and other toxic foods. Spirulina gives this juice the extra “punch.” It’s got more protein than soy, more vitamin A than carrots, more iron than beef, plenty of protective phytochemicals and the essential fatty acid, GLA.
The Green Punch had a veggie taste, but not in an overwhelming way, and was slightly sweet.
#3: Red Punch
Ingredients: Beetroot, carrot, red apples, ginger, orange, goji berries
Benefits: This zingy, ruby-colored drink is packed with powerful phytochemicals and antioxidants (like betacyanin and beta-carotene) that help rid your bodies of toxins and protect against the kind of DNA damage that can lead to premature aging and cancer. We’ve also added goji berries, the super-food that’s known for its super high concentration of antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and almost a perfect essential amino acid complex.
This drink is controversial, some people love it and some people hate it. For me, it was bearable; the beetroot taste was perceptible (and I am not a big fan of beetroot), but I eventually got used to it. It was also mildly hot due to the ginger.
#4: Fruit Punch
Ingredients: Pineapple, watermelon, lime, acai berry
Benefits: This thirst quencher packs in some delicious and powerful fruits. Pineapple contain bromelain, an enzyme that aids in digestion, particularly of protein. Watermelon has more lycopene (an antioxidant) than tomatoes and it’s high alkaline fluid content neutralizes acids and flushes out toxins. Acai berry is an Amazonian palm berry that is an ‘elite superfood’ because of it’s high concentration of antioxidants, omega fatty acids and protein. And lime has the same kinds of goodness as lemons.
The Fruit Punch tasted just like fruit juice, with nice watermelon and pineapple bits in it.
#5: Soup Punch – GazPUNCHo
Spicy Tomato Gazpacho
Ingredients: Tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, cilantro, cayenne pepper, sea salt, apple cider vinegar, extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil
Benefits: Tomatoes are best known for lycopene. Cucumber is an effective diuretic. Apple cider vinegar is the queen of vinegars—it’s a bacteria-fighting agent that is a natural cure to many ailments, helps lower cholesterol, treats diabetes and promotes weight loss. And the combination of garlic, cilantro and cayenne pepper fires up your metabolism and blood circulation.
My friends and I loved our “dinner” as it tasted incredibly delicious! It had a fresh, attractive taste of tomatoes and the garlic and vinegar gave it a kick. This was the only savoury juice amongst the 6.
#6: Nut Punch
Ingredients: Raw cashews, raw almonds, agave nectar, sea salt, filtered water
Benefits: This creamy drink is one of our favorites. Not only is it more filling because of its good fat and protein content, it also contains so many nutritional benefits. Cashews are rich sources of zinc, an essential mineral used to build collagen, an essential element in healthy, young-looking skin and nails. Almonds have a good amount of linoleic acid, which helps lower blood pressure and maintains a healthy cardiovascular system. Both nuts are high in vitamin E, one of the most potent food-based antioxidants. And agave nectar and sea salt are there to add wonderful flavor and electrolytes.
This Nut Punch is the “dessert” – it was milky and smooth, and the taste of cashews and almonds was alluring. In addition to drinking it at night, you could also drink half of it at breakfast if you are hungry in the morning, or drink it throughout the day.