Juice cleanses have become a popular way for people to try to quickly lose weight and “detox” their bodies. The premise is simple: you drink nothing but fruit and vegetable juices for a set period of time, usually around 3-5 days. By only consuming liquids, the goal is to give your digestive system a break while flooding it with nutrients from the produce-packed juices. Many people expect to emerge from their juice cleanse several pounds lighter. But what if that doesn’t happen? Here’s a look at some of the reasons you may not have lost weight on your recent juice cleanse.
Not Enough of a Calorie Deficit
The reason juice cleanses promote weight loss is because they contain very few calories. By only drinking juice and not eating any solid foods, your calorie intake is drastically reduced compared to your normal diet. However, some juice cleanse programs may not actually reduce calories enough to create the deficit needed to lose weight. Here’s a look at the calorie counts for some popular juice cleanses:
|Cleanse||Calories per day|
As you can see, many juice cleanses still provide close to 1000 or more calories per day. For many people, this may not actually be enough of a deficit to start shedding pounds. To lose one pound of fat, you need to have a 3500 calorie deficit. So if your normal diet contains around 2000 calories per day, you’d expect to lose around one pound during a 3-5 day cleanse. However, if your current diet already contains fewer calories or you need a bigger deficit to start losing weight, a juice cleanse may not cut it.
Lack of Protein
Juice cleanses are nearly devoid of protein, since they involve no animal products or other high-protein foods like beans or nuts. Protein is important when trying to lose weight because it helps you feel fuller for longer, preserving lean muscle mass and boosting metabolism. Without adequate protein intake, you may feel hungrier, struggle with cravings, and lose more muscle than fat during a cleanse.
Blood Sugar Spikes and Crashes
Fruit and vegetable juices on cleanses are packed with natural sugars. While better than processed sugars, large amounts of fruit juice sugars can still cause blood sugar spikes. Rapid rise in blood sugar signals the body to release insulin. This can then cause a blood sugar crash soon after, leading to hunger, weakness, and cravings. These rollercoaster blood sugar effects make losing weight extremely difficult.
Loss of Fiber
Juice cleanses are entirely lacking in fiber since the pulp is strained out of juices. Fiber is crucial for keeping you feeling satisfied. Soluble fiber absorbs water to become a gel-like substance that slows digestion. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool and helps waste pass through the intestines. This regulates appetite and stabilization digestion to prevent weight gain. Lack of fiber can lead to constipation and hunger on a juice cleanse.
Low Energy Expenditure
Juice cleanses are relatively sedentary, as you are not eating whole foods that require energy to digest. Low fiber and protein further reduce the thermic effect of food. There is also no exercise during most cleanses. This extremely low energy expenditure makes it very difficult for your body to burn many extra calories. Often the scale does go down, but it’s water weight rather than actual fat loss occurring.
Why one person succeeds with losing weight on a juice cleanse while another doesn’t comes down to individual differences in metabolism and other factors. Genetics, age, gender, activity levels, health conditions, and medications are some things that affect weight loss capability. Those whose bodies tend to store fat more easily may see the number on the scale drop while losing water weight but not have significant fat loss occur.
For rapid weight loss, most juice cleanses simply don’t provide the sufficient calorie deficit, protein, fiber or energy expenditure required. While they can help rid your body of toxins and may lead to short term weight loss, for many this weight is gained back once resuming normal eating. If you are looking to jump start your metabolism, be sure to maintain a calorie deficit of at least 500 calories per day, include protein at every meal, exercise regularly, and focus on long term lifestyle changes like limiting processed foods. This leads to sustainable fat burning rather than the temporary water weight losses of juice cleanses.
In summary, juice cleanses often fail to produce lasting weight loss results because they do not create a sufficient daily calorie deficit, lack protein and fiber to promote fullness, cause unstable blood sugar levels, and provide minimal physical activity. For sustainable weight management, make more gradual nutrition and exercise changes you can maintain long-term.