Juicing has become an increasingly popular way for people to detox, lose weight, and flood their bodies with nutrients. Juice cleanses typically involve drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juices exclusively for a period of 3-10 days. Proponents claim juicing can rid your body of toxins, improve digestion, help you lose weight, and increase your energy. But is juicing actually as beneficial as its supporters say, and is it worth trying?
The Potential Benefits of Juicing
There are some theoretical benefits to doing a juicing cleanse:
- Increased nutrient intake – Juices are packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients from fruits and veggies. You can take in more produce than you typically would by juicing.
- Elimination of toxins – By abstaining from solid foods for a few days, your digestive system gets a break from having to process food and can supposedly expel accumulated toxins.
- Weight loss – Not consuming solid foods for several days can result in temporary weight loss, primarily from loss of water weight and waste.
- Rest for digestive system – Your GI tract may benefit from taking a break from digesting solid foods.
- Increased energy – Some people report feeling more energized during and after juice cleanses.
Potential Downsides of Juice Cleanses
However, there are also some potential downsides of juicing to consider:
- Nutrient deficiencies – Juices lack protein, healthy fats, and other nutrients so prolonged juicing can create deficiencies.
- Loss of muscle mass – The lack of protein in juices can lead to muscle breakdown.
- Low calorie intake – Juice cleanses provide very few calories, usually around 700-1,000 per day. This can slow your metabolism.
- Blood sugar spikes – The high amounts of fruit juice can spike blood sugar levels.
- Cravings and overeating – After restricting calories for days, people tend to overeat when they finish a cleanse, often gaining back any lost weight.
- Lack of research – There is limited scientific evidence that juicing detoxifies the body or provides most of the other purported benefits.
Nutritional Content of Juices
To dig into the nutrition of juices a bit deeper, here is a look at the approximate nutritional content of a typical 24 ounce juice made with kale, apple, celery, lemon, ginger, and parsley:
|Vitamin A||200% DV|
|Vitamin C||320% DV|
As you can see, juices are packed with vitamins and minerals but lacking in protein, fat, and calories. This nutrient profile makes prolonged juice cleanses risky for muscle loss and nutrient deficiencies.
Common Juice Cleanse Plans
If you do decide to try juicing, here are some typical juice cleanse plans:
- 3-Day Cleanse: Only consume fresh juices for 3 days. Have 5-6 juices per day, around 16-24 oz each.
- 5-Day Cleanse: Drink only juices for 5 days straight. Consume 6-8 juices per day.
- Weekly Cleanse: Do a juice-only diet for 5 days out of the week and eat normally the other 2 nonconsecutive days.
It’s best to include a wide variety of vegetable and fruit juices to get different nutrients. Some examples are juices made with kale, spinach, swiss chard, carrots, apples, berries, pineapple, celery, beets, parsley, lemon, and ginger.
Tips for Safely Doing a Juice Cleanse
If you want to give juicing a try, here are some tips to make it as safe and successful as possible:
- Ease into it – Cut out refined carbs, sugar, alcohol and caffeine 1-2 days before starting.
- Drink 8-12 cups of juice daily – This provides around 1,000-1,400 necessary calories.
- Include protein – Add plant-based protein powders like pea or hemp to your juices for needed protein.
- Supplement if needed – Take a multivitamin, calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3s to prevent deficiencies.
- Exercise lightly – Do light walking or stretching to maintain muscle tone.
- Listen to your body – Stop immediately if you feel dizzy, fatigued, or unwell.
- Transition out slowly – When finished, reintroduce solid foods gradually over 2-3 days.
The Bottom Line on Juice Cleanses
So in summary, is a juice cleanse worth it? Here are some key points:
- Juicing floods your body with vitamins and minerals from produce.
- However, juices lack protein, fat, fiber and many nutrients.
- The detox benefits are unproven and typically temporary.
- Cleanses can cause nutrient deficiencies, muscle loss, fatigue, and blood sugar spikes if done for too long.
- Any weight loss is often quickly regained after stopping.
For most people, juice cleanses are an unnecessary extreme measure. You can get similar benefits of enhanced nutrient intake and reduced toxins through a diet focused on whole fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
Overall the science behind juice cleansing is limited. A short 1-3 day cleanse is likely safe for most healthy people and may provide a nutrient boost. But cleanses longer than this can become risky without medical supervision. Consult your doctor before attempting a juice cleanse.