Does juice cleanse make you bloated?

Juice cleanses have become increasingly popular in recent years as a way to detox and lose weight quickly. They typically involve drinking fruit and vegetable juices exclusively for a period of 3-7 days while eliminating all solid foods. Some people report feeling energized and refreshed after a juice cleanse. However, others find that juicing causes unpleasant side effects like bloating.

What is a juice cleanse?

A juice cleanse is a type of diet that involves consuming only fresh fruit and vegetable juices for a short period of time, typically between 3-7 days. Most juice cleanse programs provide pre-made juices that are delivered to your door each day. The juices are designed to provide nutrients while limiting calories. Here are some key things to know about juice cleanses:

  • Juices replace all solid foods for the duration of the cleanse.
  • Most cleanse programs involve drinking 6-8 juices per day.
  • Juices are made from a variety of fruits and vegetables like kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, apple, carrot, beet, etc.
  • No other foods or caloric beverages are allowed while juicing.
  • Cleanses typically last for 3-7 days.
  • Some cleanse plans also include herbal teas.
  • Consuming only juices provides around 1,000 calories or less per day.

The goal of juice cleanses is to flood your body with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants while eliminating processed foods and empty calories. Some people use cleanses to “reset” their diet or jumpstart a healthier eating regimen.

Can drinking only juice make you bloated?

Drinking juice exclusively and eliminating solid foods can definitely cause bloating, especially in the first few days of a cleanse. There are a few reasons why this happens:

Fiber content

When you remove all fiber-rich solid foods from your diet, it can disrupt your digestive system. Fiber gives bulk to stool and allows food to smoothly move through your GI tract. Without adequate fiber, foods can stagnate in your intestines, allowing gas to build up and causing bloating and constipation. Juices contain very little fiber compared to whole fruits and veggies.

Food Fiber (grams)
Apple 4.4
Carrot 2.8
8 oz Apple Juice 0.5
8 oz Carrot Juice 0.8

As you can see, an apple contains nearly 9x more fiber than apple juice. All that lost fiber can lead to GI issues when juicing.

Sugar content

Fruit and veggie juices are packed with natural sugars. While natural sugars aren’t bad for you, consuming high amounts without protein or fat to balance out the sugar rush can cause problems:

  • Blood sugar spikes then crashes, leaving you tired.
  • Excess sugar ferments in your gut causing gas and bloating.
  • Sugary juices may trigger bad bacteria growth leading to more gas and discomfort.

Chewing whole fruits and vegetables helps slow sugar absorption. But drinking sugary juices on an empty stomach provides an instant spike.

Lack of protein

Juice cleanses provide almost zero protein since they eliminate whole foods like meat, eggs, beans, nuts, dairy, etc. Protein helps regulate digestion. Without adequate protein, your digestive system doesn’t function optimally. Bacteria, gas, and waste can build up in your intestines without protein to keep things moving efficiently.

Tips to prevent bloating during a juice cleanse

If you want to try a juice cleanse, there are some strategies that can help minimize bloating:

Drink enough water

Staying hydrated is crucial when juicing to help flush out your system. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily in addition to juices.

Avoid certain vegetables

Onions, broccoli, cabbage, and kale contain compounds that can cause bloating for some people. Limit these veggies, especially at first.

Include probiotics

Take a probiotic supplement during your cleanse to support healthy gut bacteria, which can minimize gas and bloating.

Get light exercise

Light physical activity like walking helps circulation and prevents constipation and gas buildup.

Include protein shakes

Adding a protein shake once or twice a day provides protein needed for healthy digestion.

Avoid straws

Drinking juices through a straw lets in more air, which can cause belly bloating. Drink directly from the glass.

Massage your abdomen

Light massage encourages circulation in your digestive tract to release trapped gas and relieve pressure.

Ease back into solids

When your cleanse ends, slowly reintroduce solid foods starting with small amounts of fresh fruits, veggies, and healthy proteins to avoid shocking your system.

When to see a doctor about bloating

Occasional gas and bloating that goes away after a day or two is normal, especially when making a dramatic diet change like juicing. But if you experience severe, persistent bloating or other concerning symptoms, see your doctor to rule out a medical issue:

  • Bloating that lasts more than 3-4 days
  • Visible abdominal swelling and distention
  • Pain or tenderness in your abdomen
  • Constipation lasting more than 3 days
  • Diarrhea persisting more than 2 days
  • Fever or vomiting
  • Blood in your stool
  • Unintended weight loss

Severe bloating could potentially signal a food intolerance, gut infection, bowel obstruction, or other underlying health condition that requires treatment. It’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor before attempting a juice cleanse, especially if you have digestive issues.

The bottom line

It’s very common to experience bloating, gas, and abdominal discomfort when doing a juice cleanse due to the lack of fiber, excess sugars, insufficient protein, and major dietary changes. Staying hydrated, consuming probiotics, including protein shakes, and easing back into solid foods can help minimize bloating. See your doctor if severe or persistent bloating occurs to rule out any medical conditions.

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