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Are juice cleanses high in calories?

Juice cleanses have become increasingly popular in recent years as a way to detox, lose weight quickly, and reset your diet. During a juice cleanse, you consume nothing but pressed vegetable and fruit juices for a set period of time, typically between 3 and 7 days. While juice cleanses may seem like an easy way to drop pounds fast, many people wonder if they are actually high in calories and if the calorie restriction is safe or sustainable. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the calorie content of popular juice cleanses and discuss the pros and cons of this diet trend.

Calorie content of popular juice cleanses

Calorie content can vary widely depending on the specific juice cleanse plan you follow. Here is the typical calorie content per day for some popular juice cleanse programs:

Juice Cleanse Program Calories Per Day
BluePrint Cleanse 700-1,200
Juice Press 800-1,200
Liquid Diet 500-800
Cooler Cleanse 1,200-1,350
Raw Generation 1,200-1,500
Juice Generation 1,200-1,500

As you can see, calories can range from a very low 500-800 calories per day for the most extreme cleanses to a more moderate 1,200-1,500 calories for plans that include some higher-calorie ingredients like nuts, seeds, and coconut water.

Are juice cleanse calories too low?

Consuming so few calories may lead to fatigue, headaches, irritability, and other symptoms. Most health experts recommend a minimum of 1,200 calories per day for women and 1,500 for men. Going below these thresholds should only be done under medical supervision to avoid complications.

Very low-calorie diets can potentially lead to:

  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Muscle loss
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Gallstones
  • Electrolyte imbalances

Pros of juice cleanses

Despite the risks, juice cleanses do offer some potential benefits when done for short periods of time:

  • Weight loss: Most people will lose some weight quickly on a juice cleanse due to the dramatic calorie deficit. However, most of this initial weight loss is water weight and lean muscle mass rather than fat.
  • Rest for digestion: Going on a liquid diet gives your GI tract a rest from solid food and heavy digestion.
  • Nutrient boost: Juices are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Eliminate unhealthy foods: A juice cleanse can help kick-start healthy habits by removing processed foods, added sugars, and other unhealthy items from your diet.

Cons of juice cleanses

Juice cleanses also come with a number of drawbacks:

  • Lack of protein: Juices are low in protein, which is needed to maintain lean muscle mass. Inadequate protein can cause muscle breakdown.
  • Low calories: Drastically cutting calories can slow your metabolism as your body tries to conserve energy.
  • Lack of fiber: Juices contain almost no fiber since it is removed in the juicing process. Fiber is important for gut health and stable energy levels.
  • Blood sugar spikes: The natural sugars in juices can spike blood sugar. Fiber would help mitigate these spikes but is lacking.
  • Short term: Weight loss results are often short lived. Without lifestyle changes, weight is often quickly regained.
  • Binge risk: Extreme hunger after the cleanse can lead to overeating and binging on unhealthy foods.

Healthier alternatives to juice cleanses

For lasting results, most nutrition experts recommend focusing on sustainable, balanced eating habits and lifestyle changes rather than extreme short-term diets like juice cleanses. Here are some healthier alternatives:

  • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats as part of a balanced diet.
  • Drink green vegetable juices as a supplement to your meals, not a replacement.
  • Add more physical activity to burn additional calories.
  • Focus on managing stress and getting enough sleep.
  • Work on long-term behavior changes like learning to read labels, controlling portions, and breaking unhealthy habits.

The bottom line

While juice cleanses may seem like an easy fix, they are an extreme and typically short-lived solution. The very low calories can be dangerous for some people. Quick weight loss results are mostly due to losing water weight and lean muscle rather than fat.

For better long-term health and sustainable weight management, focus on a balanced whole foods diet, stress management, sleep, and daily activity. Moderation and consistency tend to work better than extreme diets and deprivation. Drink vegetable juices as a supplement if you enjoy them, but not as a complete replacement to food.