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How long can you survive on a juice cleanse?

Juice cleanses have become increasingly popular in recent years as a way to detox, lose weight quickly, and “reset” your diet. But how long can you actually survive on nothing but juices? And is juicing for multiple days in a row safe?

What is a Juice Cleanse?

A juice cleanse typically involves consuming nothing but fresh fruit and vegetable juices for a set period of time, usually between 3 and 7 days. Some cleanses also include nut milks, broths, or other liquids. The goal is to flood your body with vitamins and minerals while giving your digestive system a break from solid foods. Many people do juice cleanses hoping to:

  • Lose weight quickly by consuming very low calories
  • Remove toxins and improve health by “detoxing”
  • Reset eating habits and cravings
  • Improve skin, energy, and digestion

Is Juice Cleansing Safe?

Despite the popularity of juice cleanses, there are some concerns regarding their safety and effectiveness when done for longer than a day or two. Potential risks include:

  • Extremely low calories: Juice cleanses provide very few calories, usually around 600-1000 per day. Consuming so few calories can cause fatigue, dizziness, and even organ damage.
  • Nutrient deficiencies: Juices lack protein, fat, and other important nutrients. Just a few days of juicing can cause nutrient deficiencies.
  • Blood sugar crashes: The high sugars in juice can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes, resulting in irritability, anxiety, and fatigue.
  • Loss of muscle mass: Not consuming enough protein can lead to muscle breakdown, undoing all your hard work at the gym.
  • Food obsession: Strict restriction can lead to an unhealthy obsession with food and even binge eating when the cleanse ends.

For these reasons, most health professionals advise against juice cleanses lasting longer than 24-48 hours. Even short-term cleanses should only be done occasionally and under medical supervision.

How Long Can You Survive Only on Juices?

Humans can generally survive without any food for around 3 weeks, as long as they have water. However, consuming only juice would significantly reduce that time frame. Here’s an estimate of how long you could survive on a juice cleanse:

  • 3-5 days: Most experts agree that juice cleanses shouldn’t go beyond 3-5 days. After this point, fatigue, hormone disruption, and muscle loss start to become dangerous.
  • 1-2 weeks: Surviving on juice for 1-2 weeks is possible if you consume enough calories from high-sugar juices and nut milks. However, you’ll be miserable and at risk of health complications.
  • 2+ weeks: Attempting a juice fast longer than 2 weeks can be extremely dangerous or even life-threatening. Your body will start breaking down muscle and organ tissue for fuel.

Typical Effects of a 3-5 Day Juice Cleanse

Here’s what you can expect during and after a juice cleanse lasting 3-5 days:

Timeframe Effects
Day 1 Headaches, cravings, irritability from sugar/caffeine withdrawal
Day 2 Fatigue, mood swings, diarrhea or constipation from fiber intake
Day 3 Reduced energy, hunger, distraction from food
Day 4 Weakness, difficulty concentrating, obsession with food
Day 5 Dizziness, headaches, intense hunger and preoccupation with food
1-2 Days After Binge eating, GI upset from reintroducing solid foods
1 Week After Mostly water weight regained

As you can see, juice cleanses over 3 days result in a downward spiral of unpleasant symptoms. Most people report they never want to do one again!

Tips for a Safe, Effective Juice Cleanse

If you do decide to try juicing, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Only juice for 1-2 days max
  • Include non-sweet vegetable juices like celery, cucumber, and greens
  • Don’t completely restrict calories – have a small meal if needed
  • Include some protein like nut milk, seeds, or pea protein
  • Avoid sweet fruit juices which can cause blood sugar spikes
  • Listen to your body and stop if you feel unwell
  • Return to normal eating gradually after the cleanse

Juice cleanses don’t need to be miserable starvation diets. With a little planning, you can get the benefits without the danger!

The Bottom Line

While it’s possible to survive for up to 2 weeks on juice alone, juice cleanses longer than 3-5 days can be very unsafe. You’ll be miserable, lose muscle mass, and likely gain back any weight lost. If you do a short juice fast, proceed with caution, include some protein and calories, and return to normal eating as soon as it’s over.