Why Should I Juice? Hear it from a Chef!

By: Vincent Vanhecke

Since I am in the kitchen 24/7, making decadent meals that may not be so healthy, I am often asked, why does a chef like you juice if you can eat the most delicious food in the world? Here’s my answer from my personal experience…

Why Juice?
Juicing is a way of concentrating all the nutrients, vitamins, phytochemicals, enzymes, minerals and alkaline properties from a large quantity of vegetables and fruits.  Juicing alleviates the digestion process and speeds up the assimilation of the life-giving goodness. When you consume juice, you are giving your body a super dose of essential nutrition. And your body will thank you! But it might get through the first few days to feel the thanks.

The Tough Part
When you start a strict juicing routine, it’s common for many people to experience a detox period.  Your body may have withdrawal symptoms from the refined carbs and fats that you have been consuming prior to juicing, as they contain addictive properties.  These refined carbs (white flour, sugar, rice and potatoes) and fats (chemically processed oils such as canola, corn, and soybean) are, in my opinion, dead food with no nutritional benefit.

It should take you three to four days for your body to detox and adjust.  This is a hard period and it might be wise to advise your friends that you may not be a “happy camper” and to please make sure that they encourage you to stay on the course. Ultimately, many people find that when they know this period of detox will pass in a few days, it’s easier to start up.

Get Started
Preparation is key when starting a new diet or lifestyle change.  In order to alleviate the detox period, stock up on vegetables and fruits for at least five days before you start juicing.  Having all these vegetables and fruits in the refrigerator and pantry will keep you focused on your desire to eat healthily even when you start craving the sugar, salt, fats, that you have been accustomed to.  When you get to day four or five you will probably want to see what other vegetables and fruits you can play around with as there will be a skip in your step and the sun will start shining out of you.  This is the point at which you will have the conviction of continuing.  Your enthusiasm and willpower will determine how long you will juice for.

How I did It
I juiced for 30 days straight.  I dropped 35 lbs/16 kg.  I now eat a healthy diet and still juice every day.  Since January 2013, I have lost 82 lbs/37 kg.  Some days I juice all day too, just because I want to and I like it.  Read my full story.

I have been asked some questions over the past week which I thought I’d share:

1).How much juice did you consume each day?  

During my first four days, I was consuming six 20 oz/600 ml juices.  Things tapered down after that.  I just listened to my body.  I juiced when I was hungry.  Sometimes five juices, sometimes three and I drank a good amount of water too.  Don’t worry about the quantity of calories, but the quality of calories.  Eighty percent vegetable and 20% fruit juices tended to sustain me better, while higher fruit juices with 60% vegetable and 40% fruit tended to give me more energy.

2).What about the taste?

Some of these juices are going to taste different and new to you.  Your palate is going through a retraining period.  Soon you will notice the great taste of healthy nutrient dense food.  Even if it is not your “cup of tea” think about it from a different perspective.  Think to yourself, “How good is this for me?” Is this juice better for my body than the store bought mac and cheese or fried chicken?  You better believe it is.  I am a testimony to not eating very well for many years even though I am supposed to be an influential Executive Chef.  Over the years, I got caught up in addictive refined carbs and fats.   I ate pizzas, burgers, French fries with mayo, cookies, and desserts and drank sodas in the employee cafeteria.  I also tasted a lot of food that my team prepared during our lunch and dinner service times.  I would then go home and eat some more late at night, usually washed down with a couple of glasses of wine!

3). Can I blend/nutribullet instead of juicing?

The beauty of juicing is the concentration of nutrients without the fiber, as I previously explained. Blending does however have its benefits and its place in a healthy lifestyle.  We will discuss blending in future posts. For more information, read this article on blending vs. juicing.

4). Can I eat solid foods in addition to juicing?

There is no “right” or “wrong” way to start juicing. Some people slowly incorporate just a morning juice and then eat meals throughout the day. Some people jump right in and go right into a juice Reboot. Your detoxing experience will be greater and quicker if you go straight into the juice Reboot.  Juicing is the most effective way to detoxify all of the years of poor eating habits. However, if you feel hungry and want to chew something, reach for raw carrots or celery sticks, or even steam some kale and have ti with your juice dinner. You are still doing wonderful things to your body.

5).This is expensive?!

So are pills and medical bills!  Your health is as valuable as your life.  I like getting my fruits and vegetables from the farmers market.  Here is a great tip: Tell the farmer that you are juicing.  Do they have any blemished vegetables and fruits?  They will often offer a discounted rate and be grateful to move inventory that otherwise might go to waste. Tell them that you will be stopping by next week for more.   The juicer does not care what the vegetable or fruit looks like.  If there is a bruise on the apple, cut it off.  A funky looking carrot?  Who cares!  A soft tomato?  Yum! A split melon? They are the best!

If you do not have a farmers market, go to the best green grocer and ask them the same questions.  Gimme your ugly vegetables and fruits!  This is where the beauty of juicing comes in.  I coin the phrase “Ugly is beautifully delicious”.


Vincent Vanhecke

Vincent Vanhecke is the Executive Chef at the Valley Club of Montecito in Santa Barbara, CA. He has been in the food service business for 32 years; born in Belgium, trained in France, worked in England and in east and west coast USA. Vincent started eating a healthier diet and juicing in January 2013 and has since dropped from 285lbs to 210lbs currently. Food is his livelihood. Vincent have been awarded many accolades including one of the" best young Chefs in America" in 1992, has been a guest Chef at the James Beard house in New York on 3 occasions, and on Great Chefs TV on Discovery Channel. Vincent loves food and enjoys the newfound relationship he has with healthier choices.

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