Once the domain of celebrities looking to drop weight quickly, juice cleanses have now filtered through to the main stream. Touted as a way to drop extra pounds, kick start a healthy eating regime and rid the body of toxins, a short, juice-only diet seems like a no-brainer.
There are as many different juice cleanses available as there are fad diets. You can save yourself time and effort by purchasing a package deal, where all the juices are sent to you pre-bottled, or invest your time and energy into preparing your own fresh juices.
Juice cleanses range from three days to many weeks, although 10 days is a commonly accepted maximum.
Regardless of your lifestyle and current health status, we recommend checking in with your health provider before starting a juice cleanse, just to make sure it’s right for you.
But do juice cleanses actually work? What is involved and how do you go about preparing for and doing one? This guide will answer all these questions and more, giving juicing beginners an insight into the process.
What Does A Cleanse Do?
Advertised as somewhat of a miracle diet, proponents claim there are many benefits from embarking on a juice cleanse.
Like any health regime, results vary from person to person. Some people swear by it, citing dozens of improvements to their health and wellbeing, while others may not reap the same benefits.
Here are some of the key juicing benefits you may experience from doing a juice cleanse:
- Increased stamina
- Increased energy
- Improved mental clarity
- Improved sleep patterns
- Healthy nails and hair
- Weight loss
Many of the advantages experienced by those doing a juice cleanse make sense, while other claims have little to no evidence to back them up (see Do Juice Cleanses Work below).
One area where you are likely to see results quickly is in weight loss. This is because you are only consuming liquid and cutting out fat-laden snacks, junk food and extra calories. Naturally, some of the pounds will drop away and you’ll notice less bloating.
However, unless you continue to maintain a healthy diet after your cleanse, the weight is likely to return.
Do Juice Cleanses Work?
Many of the benefits of a juice cleanse are anecdotal, meaning they are personal experiences not backed up by research or studies.
In fact, some of the claims made by those who promote juice cleanses and detoxes are completely inaccurate. Let’s take a look at some of these claims and find out if juice cleanses work!
You Will Lose Weight
As mentioned above, it is very likely that you will lose weight when on a juice cleanse. One study showed that during a three day juice cleanse, participants lost an average of 3.75 pounds (1.7kgs) following the cleanse.
This study also showed that two weeks after the cleanse, the weights remained lower than they had at the beginning.
Although the weight loss feels like a win at the time, you are more than likely losing water weight and muscle mass rather than fat itself. As your juice cleanse goes on, the body tends to go into “famine mode,” storing calories and slowing down the metabolism to prevent fat loss.
You Will Detox Your Body
According to the US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NIH) and many other professionals, there is no evidence that a juice cleanse can remove toxins from your body.
Furthermore, experts say that it’s a fallacy to even claim the body needs help removing toxins. The human body is a finely-tuned machine that has solid processes in place to detox: using the liver, sweat, and our bodily waste.
Your Digestive System Will Be Cleansed
Consuming nothing but juice cuts out all the fiber in your diet. Fiber is highly important; it keeps the gastrointestinal system moving while helping us feel full.
While your digestive system doesn’t have to work hard to process juice, it’s not necessarily going to help cleanse your body any faster.
You Will Feel Energized
Once people get past the possible unpleasant detox symptoms of a juice cleanse, many do report an increase in energy and clearer thinking.
This is because you are eliminating processed foods, caffeine, alcohol and carbs – as well as increasing the vitamins and minerals in your diet.
Preparing For A Juice Cleanse
If you’ve decided to jump in and give a juice cleanse a try, there is a little bit of preparation required.
Firstly, we recommend talking to your health provider. Juice cleanses can be harmful for certain health conditions such as diabetes and kidney problems.
Most likely, you can still undergo a cleanse, but may need to adjust the types of juice consumed and add a bit of solid, raw food into the schedule.
Instead of diving headfirst into your cleanse, spend a few days beforehand gradually adjusting your diet to prepare your body. This will reduce the detox side effects and make the transition much easier!
The easy option is to take advantage of the many juice cleanse programs on the internet. Some of these will ship the entire juice supply frozen before you start, while others can deliver it day by day.
If you plan to do all the juicing yourself, you’ll need to do a lot more planning, recipe research and make sure you have the time and supplies to do it well.
One week before
- Come up with a solid plan. How long will your cleanse last for? Will you do it over a weekend or during a work week? How will you find time to juice – will you prepare it all in the morning and store it or concoct a fresh juice every time you need one?
- Make sure you have your best juicer and it is operational.
- Start phasing out refined sugar, coffee, alcohol, nicotine and junk food.
- Increase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet.
- Increase the amount of water you drink daily.
- Decide on your juice schedule and recipes and make a shopping list.
Two days before
- Cut meat out of your diet; it takes a lot of work for the digestive system to process animal products, so stick to a plant-based diet.
- Hit the shops and stock up on fresh, organic fruit and vegetables. Store them appropriately so you’re ready to go on day one!
One day before
- Try and consume mostly raw fruit and vegetables and drink lots of water the day before you begin your cleanse.
- Get your juicing supplies ready.
How To Do A Cleanse
The key to a successful cleanse is preparation and perseverance. If you have followed the steps above, you’re on the path to success.
For beginners, we recommend trying a three-day cleanse to start with. This will give you an idea of what’s involved, how your body reacts, and help figure out if you would like to try a longer cleanse in future.
While some people like to plan the cleanse for a weekend, others have more success doing it during the week while they are at work, finding that keeping busy is a great way to keep your mind off of snacking.
Purists will insist that a juice cleanse involves only consuming juice and water and nothing else. However, others find that including healthy, raw-food snacks (such as carrot sticks or nuts) here and there helps curb the hunger pains without compromising the cleanse.
Whatever you decide, follow the guidelines below to start your juice cleanse.
- Drink a luke warm glass of water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice in when you wake up. This helps kick start your system.
- Prepare all your juice for the day each morning and store it in glass, airtight containers in the fridge.
- You should aim to drink six to eight juices per day – one juice every 2 to 2.5 hours. Any longer than this and you’ll get a drop in blood sugar and experience hunger pangs.
- In the evening, go for something like almond or cashew nut milk to give your body some much needed protein.
- Ensure the ratio of fruit to vegetables in the juice is 20:80. Too much fruit and you’ll experience surges and drops in your blood sugar.
- Drink the sweeter fruit juices in the morning and consume the stronger vegetable juices in the afternoon and evening.
- Increase the amount of water you drink. Try and consume a glass every time you drink a juice, as well as in between. This will help keep you full and also flush your system.
- Reduce the amount of exercise and hard physical activity you do, but still do light exercise like walking or yoga. Sweat is your body’s natural detoxer, so get out there and get a light sweat on!
- If you find yourself too hungry, either drink more juice, a glass of water, or there’s no harm in snacking on a salad, a carrot or a piece of fresh fruit.
What To Eat After A Juice Cleanse
After your cleanse, it’s best to reintroduce solid food gradually and be mindful of the kind of food you are eating for the first few days.
Your digestive system has had a break and will need to start working slowly without being overloaded.
You’ve had a rest from processed food, dairy, gluten and other possible irritants, so be mindful or introducing these things gradually and listen to your body.
Follow this general eating guide:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Green juices and smoothies
- Soaked nuts and seeds
- Protein smoothies
- Slowly reintroduce dairy, fish and meat.
Juicing Detox Symptoms & Side Effects
Juicing advocates describe the side effects and symptoms you may see during a fast as a positive response to the body detoxing.
Scientists and research blame it on withdrawal symptoms from our addiction to refined sugar, caffeine and other substances.
Whatever the reason, many people experience some unpleasant symptoms, particularly at the beginning of a juice cleanse, including:
- Stomach pains
- Difficulty thinking clearly
Recent times have witnessed the increased popularity of juice cleanses as a natural remedy for getting rid of toxins that reside within their bodies.
Do they actually work? It’s hard for us to say for sure, but they can definitely give you the feeling that something has changed within your body.
If you’ve received the all clear from a health professional and want to give it a go, there’s no harm in trying. So, dust off your juicer, stock up on some produce and see if a juice cleanse works for you.