Can you do a juice cleanse with protein?


A juice cleanse is a type of detox diet that involves consuming only fresh fruit and vegetable juices for a set period of time, typically between 3-7 days. The goal of a juice cleanse is to flood the body with nutrients while eliminating toxins and giving the digestive system a rest. Many people add protein powders or other supplements to their juice cleanses in an effort to maintain muscle mass or add nutrition. However, there is debate over whether this is beneficial or counterproductive.

What is a juice cleanse?

A juice cleanse is a short-term diet in which a person consumes only fresh fruit and vegetable juices and water for a period of a few days to a week. The juices are made by pressing or blending fresh produce like kale, spinach, celery, carrots, apples, and lemons to extract the liquid and nutrients. The pulpy fiber is strained out.

Some of the purported benefits of juice cleansing include:

  • Floods the body with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients from fruits and veggies
  • Gives the digestive system a rest by cutting out solid foods
  • Eliminates toxins and promotes detoxification
  • Resets and improves metabolism
  • Improves energy and mental clarity
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Boosts immunity through antioxidant-rich produce

However, many of these benefits are not scientifically proven and juice cleanses can carry risks including nutrient deficiencies, blood sugar spikes, fatigue, and disordered eating patterns. Most health experts advise getting vitamins and nutrients from whole foods whenever possible rather than juices.

Why do people add protein?

Although juice cleanses are intended to give the digestive system a break from solid foods, some cleansers add protein powders and supplements to their juices. There are a few reasons people may add protein:

  • To maintain muscle mass – Without protein intake during a cleanse, the body can start breaking down muscle for energy within 24 hours. Adding protein aims to preserve muscle.
  • Satiety – Protein increases feelings of fullness and may help with hunger on a low-calorie cleanse.
  • Added nutrition – Some choose to supplement with proteins like collagen for the additional nutritional value.
  • Workout recovery – Athletes or others engaged in intense workouts may use protein to aid muscle recovery.

Common protein options that are added to juice cleanses include:

  • Whey protein powder
  • Plant-based protein powders like pea, hemp, rice etc.
  • Collagen or bone broth protein
  • Whole food proteins like spirulina or hemp seeds

Despite the reasons for adding protein, there is debate as to whether this practice actually benefits or hinders the cleanse.

Potential benefits of adding protein

There are some potential benefits associated with adding protein sources during a juice cleanse:

  • Preserves muscle and metabolism – Protein intake is important for maintaining muscle mass. Without it, muscles may break down leading to losses in strength and a slower metabolism.
  • Aids workout recovery – Protein supports muscle repair after exercise. For those working out during a cleanse, it can help the body recover.
  • Promotes satiety – Protein is known to be very filling. Getting adequate protein may help curb hunger and stick to the cleanse.
  • Supports immunity – Some protein sources like collagen provide amino acids that play a role in immune function.

If protein is added to a juice cleanse, it is generally recommended to consume no more than 15-30 grams of protein per day from high quality sources like whey, plant proteins or collagen.

Potential drawbacks of adding protein

However, there are also some downsides associated with combining protein and juice cleansing:

  • Can pull you out of ketosis – The goal of juice cleansing is to go into a ketogenic fat burning state. Too much protein provides glucose and can prevent ketosis.
  • Adds solid food – Juice cleanses aim to give the digestive tract a rest. Protein powders are considered solid food which activates digestion.
  • Spikes insulin – Protein causes an insulin spike which can lead to crashes in blood sugar levels.
  • Provides unnecessary calories – Some juices provide adequate protein. Adding more adds excess calories which could hinder weight loss.

Due to these drawbacks, some health practitioners advise avoiding protein during short term juice cleanses.

What do experts recommend?

Opinions among health experts differ when it comes to adding protein during juice cleansing:

  • Allow it – Some nutritionists and doctors say adding a small amount of protein like collagen or plant protein is beneficial for preserving muscle and preventing cravings.
  • Avoid it– Other experts argue that protein hampers ketosis and provides excess calories so it should be avoided. They suggest sticking to juices only.
  • It depends – Some practitioners say the approach depends on the individual. Those who exercise heavily may need extra protein. Sedentary cleansers likely do not.

There are pros and cons on both sides of the debate. Someone new to juice cleansing may want to avoid protein altogether. For experienced cleansers, a moderate protein approach could work if it aligns with the person’s health and fitness goals.

Protein options for juice cleansing

If you do choose to incorporate protein during a juice cleanse, focus on high quality, easily digested options. Avoid protein bars, shakes and other processed products with artificial ingredients. Recommended proteins include:

Protein Benefits
Whey protein isolate Absorbs rapidly, rich in amino acids, minimally processed
Collagen peptides Easily digested, contains different amino acids than whey, supports skin, hair, nails, joints
Hemp protein Plant-based, contains fiber, omega-3s, easy to digest
Pea protein Vegetarian, dairy-free, contains iron, highly bioavailable
Brown rice protein Hypoallergenic, good for sensitive stomachs, alkaline forming
Spirulina Algae-based, packed with vitamins, minerals, easy to digest

These proteins provide a range of amino acids and other nutrients with minimal processing and additives. Keep intake between 15-30 grams per day from these high quality sources if supplementing during a juice cleanse.

Sample juice cleanse menu with protein

Here is a sample one day menu for a juice cleanse with added protein:

Upon waking: 20oz lemon water

Breakfast – Green protein juice: Cucumber, kale, parsley, celery, lemon, ginger, collagens peptides powder (10g protein)

Mid-morning – Fruit juice: Orange, carrot, strawberry, beet, coconut water

Lunch – Red protein juice: Tomato, beetroot, carrots, parsley, basil, hemp protein powder (15g protein)

Afternoon – Citrus juice: Grapefruit, orange, lemon, turmeric, ginger

Dinner – Berry green juice: Spinach, berries, pineapple, avocado, spirulina powder (4g protein)

This provides a balance of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, and approximately 30g of protein from high quality plant and algae sources over the course of the day.

Tips for succeeding with a juice and protein cleanse

If you do choose to add some protein to your juice cleanse, here are some tips to help you succeed:

  • Drink 6-8 glasses of juice spread throughout the day to stay hydrated and get nutrients.
  • Listen to your body’s signals – if you feel tired or unwell, rest and avoid exercise.
  • Take saltwater flushes first thing in morning and before bed to stay regular.
  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
  • Supplement with probiotics to support gut health and digestion.
  • Drink herbal tea between juices if needed for an energy boost or to curb hunger.
  • Ease off protein in the days before starting cleanse to prepare.
  • Break cleanse with raw fruits/veggies and gradually reintroduce other foods.

Adding just a small amount of protein can provide benefits during cleansing if these best practices are followed. But it is ultimately up to each individual to decide if protein fits with their cleanse plan and goals.

Potential side effects of adding protein during a juice cleanse

While adding protein can offer some benefits, it does come with potential side effects to be aware of:

  • Digestive issues – Too much protein during a cleanse can irritate the digestive tract causing cramps, bloating, diarrhea.
  • Fatigue and headaches – Getting pulled out of ketosis can result in low energy, brain fog, headaches.
  • Dehydration – Protein increases need for hydration which can lead to dehydration if not enough liquids are consumed.
  • Hypoglycemia – Blood sugar crashes can occur if protein intake is too high, especially during a low calorie cleanse.
  • Kidney strain – Excess protein places added strain and stress on the kidneys which are working to flush toxins.

To avoid these effects, be mindful of protein intake, stay hydrated, listen to your body’s signals, and end cleanse if any severe side effects occur. Moderation and high quality sources are key when adding protein to juice.


Adding protein during a juice cleanse is a debated topic without a definitive right or wrong answer. Potential benefits like maintaining muscle mass and satiety need to be weighed against possible downsides such as inhibiting ketosis and providing excess calories.

Most health experts seem to agree that a moderate protein approach of 15-30 grams per day from quality sources like collagen, whey, hemp or spirulina is unlikely to cause harm in most healthy adults. However, some argue even minimal protein should be avoided.

In the end, the decision comes down to individual factors like your nutrition needs, reason for cleansing, and how your body reacts. Someone who is sedentary may do fine with juices alone, while an athlete may require extra protein to fuel workouts. Start slowly and see how you feel before increasing protein intake on a cleanse. And be sure to consult a doctor, especially with any underlying health conditions.

With a thoughtful approach, a juice cleanse with a dash of protein can provide a nutrient-dense, gut-resetting cleanse without compromise to muscle mass. But juice alone can also get the detox job done. Listen to your body and let your overall health goals be your guide.

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