Exercise Training While Juice Fasting: The Best Blends for Fueling Your Workouts

A while back I wrote an attention-grabbing article entitled “Intense Exercise Training During a Juice Fast? Is This Even Possible?” Since this article was originally published dozens and dozens of people have written me with specific questions regarding the best ways to approach prolonged juicing fasting (3-10 days or more) in the presence of exercise training.

Juice fasting is always an exciting time to experiment with a variety of vegetable and fruit blends. However, when engaging in exercise during a juice fast, you’ll need to carefully select your combinations in order to effectively fuel your workouts. In the following two sections I’ll highlight specific recipes that I incorporate for consumption before, during, and after workouts.

What I Drink Before and During Workouts

Whether I’m juice fasting or not, I make it a regular practice to consume a large variety of nutrient-dense foods that properly fuel my workouts. Foods consumed prior to or during workouts should contain essential nutrients that enhance oxygen delivery to muscles, support maximum energy production, and reduce overall muscle fatigue during exercise.

In general, performing intense exercise increases the likelihood of what’s called oxidative stress. Excessive exposure to oxidative stress can cause cell-damaging free radicals to build up in the body, which may impair healthy blood flow, reduce physical performance, and weaken overall immune function.

In light of these facts, to exercise at optimal levels while juice fasting, it’s important to drink juices that contain adequate amounts of key nutrients that fight the effects of oxidative stress. These include B-vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, biotin, and choline), the antioxidant vitamins C and E, and the vital mineral iron. The following three combinations are potent sources of all these nutrients.

Blend 1

  • 8 large or 16 small asparagus spears
  • 1-2 heaping handfuls of kale (equivalent to about 1-2 cups)
  • 1 handful of parsley (equivalent to about 1 cup)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 beefsteak tomato
  • 1 cup of dark grapes
  • 1 lemon (peeled or with skin)

Blend 2 

  • 2 handfuls of wheatgrass (equivalent to a 2-ounce shot)
  • 1 cup of bok choy (chopped)
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 2-3 oranges (peeled)
  • 1 cup of blueberries

Blend 3

  • 1-2 heaping handfuls of spinach (equivalent to about 1-2 cups)
  • 2 cups of Brussels sprouts or broccoli
  • 2 medium apples (Fuji, red delicious, or gala)
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • 1 kiwi fruit
  • 1 piece of ginger (about 2 inches)

Juice Fasting 2Now, you’ve probably noticed that each of these juice blends contains some combination of dark leafy green and cruciferous vegetables, asparagus and/or bell peppers. These vegetables are the richest sources of iron, B-vitamins, and the antioxidants vitamins C and E, which work together to prevent oxidative damage during exercise.

Some ingredients like spinach and peppers also contain the non-essential amino acid L-arginine, which is naturally produced by the body. L-arginine supports healthy blood flow and encourages oxygen delivery throughout the body. In addition, this amino acid helps to reduce free radical production and damage associated with prolonged intense exercise.

I also include dark berries, grapes and/or red apples in just about anything I consume before or during workouts. Such fruits contain large quantities of a plant-based compound (phytochemical) called quercetin, which has been shown to greatly boost physical performance during exercise.

What I Drink After Workouts

When incorporating exercise into a juice fast, any post-workout vegetable and fruit blend should contain nutrients that support electrolyte balance, promote muscle recovery, and preserve lean (muscle) mass. Some of the most relevant nutrients include the B-vitamin folate, the essential minerals potassium, magnesium and chromium as well as some amino acids.

Engaging in exercise causes electrolytes to be lost, primarily in sweat. This can have a negative impact on exercise recovery and subsequent performance. To prevent such losses, I regularly include potassium and magnesium-rich vegetables and fruits in my post-workout juice blends. Potassium is critical for muscle contraction and proper functioning of nerves while magnesium enables the delivery of oxygen to contracting muscles.

Folate, chromium, and amino acids are especially important for muscle recovery and repair. In addition, each of these nutrients has been shown to greatly encourage muscle maintenance and significant gains in muscle mass.

Juice Fasting 3In light of all these facts, when combining vegetables and fruits for my post-workout blends, I go for some of the most concentrated sources of potassium, magnesium, folate, chromium, and amino acids. Here are the ones that I’ve found to be most beneficial.

Blend 1

  • 1-2 heaping handfuls of spinach (equivalent to about 1-2 cups)
  • 1 handful of parsley (equivalent to about 1 cup)
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1 beefsteak tomato
  • 1/4 whole cantaloupe (chopped)
  • 1 lime (peeled or with skin)

Blend 2

  • 1 broccoli spear
  • 1-2 cups of Swiss chard (equivalent to about 1-2 cups)
  • 2 medium carrots (without greens)
  • 2 small beets
  • 1/4 pineapple (chopped)
  • 1 cup of strawberries
  • 1 piece of ginger (about 2 inches)

Blend 3

  • 1-2 heaping handfuls of spinach (equivalent to about 1-2 cups)
  • 1 handful of parsley (equivalent to about 1 cup)
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 kiwi fruit

Now, vegetables and fruits are not the best sources of muscle-building amino acids as large quantities of these nutrients are contained in animal-based foods, soy products, nuts and seeds, legumes, and some whole grain foods. But, when it comes to engaging in exercise during juice fasting, the goal is not to gain muscle mass but more so to preserve it.

The juice blends I’ve provided here are perfect for maintaining muscle mass during a juice fast, especially one lasting seven days or less. While many of the blends I’ve described are incredibly delicious, some of them may not be at all palatable to you, as we all have different taste buds. It’s just important to understand that you’re juicing for fuel and not necessarily for maximum flavor.

Still, there’s no reason why you can’t get creative when juicing to fuel your workouts. Just make an effort to incorporate sizeable portions of the vegetables and fruits that I’ve highlighted, as they house the nutrients that are most beneficial when engaging in exercise.