The Skinny on Juice Cleanses

It seems like every day some celebrity is touting the benefits of a juice cleanse. This popular diet fad just won’t go away. Is juice fasting a smart choice?
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Person holding a glass of thick green vegetable juice

Photo by: Stockbyte ©(c) Stockbyte

Stockbyte, (c) Stockbyte

It seems like every day a different celebrity is touting the benefits of the juice cleanse du jour. This ever-popular diet fad just won’t seem to go away. Are juice cleanses a smart choice?
What is a Juice Cleanse?

There are dozens of brands out there but the basic concept is the same: skipping solid foods while drinking large volumes of fruit and/or vegetable juices for days or even weeks.

These beverage-based programs promise to promote everything from weight loss to detox to whole body rejuvenation.

Once only found at gyms and juice bars, you can now purchase bottled cleanses online and at high-end grocery stores (for an pretty penny!).

Are they safe? Do they work?

The answer could be yes and no to both these questions. While there’s no harm in eating or even drinking fruits and veggies, foregoing all other foods for juices isn’t a healthy way to eat. You’ll also be missing out from a nutrient standpoint – there’s no way your body can get everything it needs for days through a straw. Some cleanses only last 2 to 3 days; if you must do one,  I say  -- the shorter, the better! But expect to feel dizzy, hungry and downright grouchy! Your body and metabolism rely on a steady influx of nutrients and calories, cutting yourself short and the whole system gets thrown off kilter.

As for weight loss, of course you’ll lose weight! Most cleanse programs allow less than 1,000 calories per day. The question then becomes, can you keep that weight off? Sorry folks, in most cases the answer is no. A calorie intake this low is also dangerous for your energy levels, mood and metabolism.

Since many cleanses require slashing your intake of carbs, you might experience some rapid initial weight loss due to a drop in water weight (water is needed to break down carbs). Problem is, once you start eating normally again, the water weight will return and possibly in larger volumes than before.

As for detoxing, don’t believe the hype – your liver does a beautiful job of clearing toxins from your body.

There’s also the issue of depriving your digestive system of solid foods or an extended period of time. Once the cleanse is over, you better ease back into solid foods or you’ll be in the bathroom for another week.

Bottom Line: There’s nothing wrong with sipping on a juice concoction as part of a healthy diet, but cleansing for days on end will cause more harm than good.

Tell Us: Have you tried a juice cleanse?
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