For many people, a juice cleanse is the ideal way to give their body a break, reset the immune system, clear out excess toxins, optimize digestion and even lose weight. The concept of a juice cleanse is quite simple – you only consume fruit and vegetable juice, in addition to as much water and green tea as you would like. Most people use this form of detoxing/dieting for 1-3 days, but there are some who go for weeks on fruit and vegetable juices alone. This trend has become very popular in the past decade or so, sparking a huge range of juice cleanse products and programs that are intended to guide you towards better health with a well-balanced range of beverages.
However, there is some controversy about people going on a juice cleanse, as many people don’t do it properly, and become nutrient- or calorie-deficient, even in a short period of days. Experts tend to be generally split about the potential value of a juice cleanse, but few recommend using such a cleanse diet for more than 3 days, depending upon your present eating habits and lifestyle. Deficiencies in protein and dietary fiber are common, as a juice cleanse is actually just the vegetable and fruit juice, not the pulp you have left behind in a blender. Depending on how long you want your juice cleanse to last and what your goals are (e.g., weight loss, higher energy, curbed cravings etc.), you will want to choose your cleanse carefully. Most importantly, however, you want to provide your body with enough calories and essential nutrients each day, or else a juice cleanse can do more harm than good.
How to do a Juice Cleanse?
Some of the most popular juice cleanses on the market range from 1-7 days and may include a variety of juices that must be consumed at different times of the day in specific orders. Some of the more expensive juice cleanses may include rare ingredients, exotic spices, or a complex processing method that retains more of the minerals and vitamins from the fruits and vegetables.
Typically, you will be required to drink 4-8 glasses of these juices per day, some of which may be repeated throughout the day, and intersperse these beverages with water. The most difficult thing will be not snacking or eating any solid foods, as this is often an unconscious activity, particularly for people struggling with weight loss. Trying a juice cleanse can have noticeable effects, provided you do it responsibly and pay attention to how your body is responding.
Benefits of a Juice Cleanse
There are many potential benefits of a juice cleanse, including improving your nutrient intake, suppressing your appetite, shedding a few pounds, flushing out toxins from the body and lowering blood pressure. This is not only due to the rich supply of minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants in these fruits and vegetables but also the lack of solid, processed foods, fiber, and fat.
Better Nutrient Intake
By juicing all of these fruits and vegetables, you are effectively eliminating the dietary fiber (insoluble) that many of them contain. This can help to simplify the digestive process and result in a more direct and concentrated intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. For people who suffer from mineral deficiencies, this can help to super-charge their system with the nutrients they need.
Many people use juice cleanses as a way to manage their eating habits and appetite. By reducing the caloric intake every day, you will begin to slow the metabolism, or at least accustom it to a slower rate of food intake. This can help you adjust your body’s food expectations, resulting in long-term behavioral changes to how much food you eat.
Healthier Food Habits
If you take 3-4 days off your regular diet that might include some of the worst foods like processed and high-saturated fat staples, you will feel the difference, which can be an excellent psychological motivator to continue eating healthy. The juice cleanse may stop but it is possible to curb or control your food cravings following such a drastic change in diet.
Most juice cleanses will help you lose water weight, but it should not be considered as a crash diet because it is short and unsustainable. Reducing your calorie intake will naturally lead to some weight loss, but pushing such a restrictive diet to extremes can be dangerous for your health.
Detoxification the Body
Many people on a juice cleanse experience diarrhea and a general flushing out of toxins, including excessive urination. Although the liver and kidneys need a variety of nutrients to function (some of which may be missing in your cleanse), a few days of strict juice intake can flush out excess waste and toxins, essentially resetting your overall system.
Juice cleanses have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body and lower blood pressure, which is also good for heart health. However, this may be the result of a slowed metabolism, which isn’t necessarily good for weight loss or fat deposition rate.
Homemade Juice Cleanse
If you want to do a homemade juice cleanse, you will need to stock up on quite a few fruits, vegetables and spices, and do not attempt to do the cleanse for more than 3 days. This will lower your risk of becoming deficient in any nutrients you need, while still delivering quite a few of the potential benefits of the cleanse.
This particular homemade juice cleanses consists of 4 different types of juice consumed at various times of the day. All of these ingredients should be added to a juicer, but if one is not available, a blender followed by straining or filtering is acceptable.
Juice Cleanse Schedule
- 8 am – Green Juice
- 10 am – Pineapple Mint
- Noon – Green Juice
- 3 pm – Lemon Pepper
- 5 pm – Beet and Carrot
- 7 pm – Green Juice
Juice 1 – Green Juice
Juice 2 – Pineapple Mint
Juice 3 – Lemon Pepper
Juice 4 – Beet and Carrot Juice
Side Effects of a Juice Cleanse
The benefits of a juice cleanse have made this diet strategy popular, even with celebrities and health gurus, but there are also quite a few side effects to consider, such as a compromised your immune system, slowing your metabolism, decreasing energy levels, and causing indigestion, dry skin, irritability, hunger pangs, depression, muscle weakness, bad breath and cognitive slowness. Drastically changing your diet can always have an unwanted impact on your body, particularly when you begin limiting the intake of certain nutrients and denying your body the calories it typically receives.
When you cut down on your total calorie intake, it will affect the rate of your metabolism, which can make it harder to burn calories, and may even result in rapid weight gain once you get off the juice cleanse and your body must adapt to a “normal” amount of calories again.
With fewer calories, as well as less protein and fat, you will likely notice a lack of energy over the course of the day, partially caused by underlying hunger.
By cutting out essential fatty acids and using some of your energy stores in the body, your skin is likely to become dried out, as resources are conserved in other organ systems.
People seem to forget that protein is a key part of developing cells for the immune system. Without any protein intake over the course of 3-4 days, it is likely that your immune health will be compromised, and an illness or infection during/after a juice cleanse is not uncommon.
People often complain about indigestion, nausea, stomach cramps and discomfort, as the body is no longer being told to produce digestive enzymes. Without dietary fiber and more complex elements of your diet, normal gastric juice levels drop, which can cause some confusion and pain in the gut.
Having a cloudy head and not feeling completely energized is common on a juice cleanse, as the body requires time to adjust. This can cause cognitive confusion, exhaustion or difficulty with memory or retention.
Periods of sadness or irritability are common during a juice cleanse, as your hormonal levels may begin to fall out of balance, due to the severely restricted diet.
Without protein and an excess of good nutrients or calories, your muscles don’t have resources to develop, so you may feel weakness in your arms and legs, particularly if you try to exercise during the cleanse.