A juice cleansing diet (also known as “juice fasting”) is a method of weight loss known as a ‘detox’ diet that promotes a reduced or eliminated solid food intake in favor of several daily fruit and vegetable juices. Proponents of juice cleanses claim that these diets rid the body of caffeine, alcohol, sugar, refined foods and artificial additives as well as jumpstarting a healthier way of eating.
There is no individual person who can claim to have invented the juice cleanse diet; however they have increased in popularity over the last decade thanks to many celebrities to claim that it helps them to lose weight, experience an increase in energy and improve the condition of their skin.
How Does A Juice Cleanse Work?
A typical juice cleanse diet will have three stages- the pre-cleanse, the juice cleanse and the maintenance period. These stages are flexible in duration and may last anywhere from 48 hours to seven days each on average. Some people have tried ‘extreme’ juice cleanses lasting from 30-100 days or become ‘juicearians’, claiming to survive solely on juices. Some juice cleanses include a daily smoothie with protein and fibre to provide increased nutritional intake while on the program.
The three stages of a typical juice cleanse diet are:
Stage One: The Pre Cleanse
The pre cleanse phase of a juice cleanse is supposed to gently help your body get used to eating more lightly, as well as ridding your digestive system of slow-digesting or heavy foods such as starch and red meat. Proponents of juice cleansing claim that what you eat during your pre cleanse will have a direct impact on how efficiently your body responds to the juice cleanse.
Typical foods and beverages that are recommended during the pre cleanse phase of a juice cleanse diet include plant based soups, smoothies, legumes, gluten-free grains, fermented foods, nuts and seeds, nut milks, herbal teas and salads. Foods that are discouraged include dairy, meat, eggs, gluten, saturated or trans fats, artificial additives (including colors, flavors, preservatives and sweeteners) and refined sugar.
A daily menu plan for someone in the pre cleanse phase of a juice cleanse diet may look like this:
- Breakfast: A banana, kale, almond milk and berry smoothie
- Snack: A handful of unsalted mixed nuts such as cashews, almonds and walnuts
- Lunch: A tomato soup with gluten-free wholegrain bread and a fruit salad
- Snack: Coconut-based yogurt, an apple and a spoonful of organic peanut butter
- Dinner: Lentil curry made with fresh herbs and spices; brown rice and home made mango chutney
- Snack: Fruit
People doing a pre cleanse may experience hunger, skin outbreaks, headaches, tiredness and irritability. Fans of juice diets claim that this is due to the body ‘detoxing’ from unhealthy chemicals; scientists argue that in fact this is due to caffeine withdrawal in conjunction with natural symptoms of a reduced calorie intake.
Stage Two: The Juice Cleanse
Most juice cleansers say that raw and organic juices are the best quality juices to consume, thanks to their unaltered and natural states. Around six juices per day (totaling around 32 ounces) are the standard amount for most juice cleanse diets, along with other permitted liquids. At least half of the total daily juice volume should be green vegetable juice.
A typical daily menu plan for people doing a juice cleanse is as follows:
Upon waking: One glass of warm water with fresh lemon squeezed into it
- Juice 1 at 8-9am: Green vegetable juice including 1 cup of spinach, 2 celery stalks, 1 cup of kale, 2 cups of romaine lettuce, 1 whole cucumber, 1 whole apple and half a peeled lemon or lime.
- Juice 2 at 10.30-11.30am: Another juice containing 4 cups of chopped watermelon, 1cm of fresh ginger and 1 peeled lemon.
- Juice 3 at 1-2pm: Another juice containing half a cucumber, 2 cups of spinach, 3 carrots half a cup of cabbage and 1 clove of garlic.
- Juice 4 at 3-4pm: Another juice containing 1 whole beetroot, 2 large carrots, 1 green apple, 1 inch of peeled ginger and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
- Juice 5 at 5-6pm: Another juice containing 1 large pomegranate and 1 large orange.
- Juice 6 at 7-8pm: A nighttime almond milk drink containing natural vanilla and cinnamon for sweetness
Cleansers may also drink unlimited herbal teas and water. Some people may prefer to substitute up to two of the juices for a plant based meal such as a salad or vegetable dish.
Stage Three: Breaking The Cleanse
After going through the second stage of the juice cleanse, you will want to gently ‘break’ it by reintroducing foods back into your diet. The recommended food types are at first similar to those in the pre cleanse phase- so no meat, dairy, gluten or heavy foods. Start with mainly fruit and vegetables and gradually re-introduce other foods over the next five days. A sample menu during the ‘breaking the cleanse’ phase may look like this:
- Breakfast: A small handful of unsalted nuts
- Lunch: A large salad with lettuce, tomato, celery, carrots and mango or pineapple
- Dinner: A vegetable soup with leeks, potatoes, onions, carrots and celery.
- Snacks: Fresh fruit or vegetable crudites
- Breakfast: A fruit salad
- Lunch: Baked sweet potato with sweetcorn, kidney beans and homemade tomato salsa
- Dinner: Chickpea curry with brown rice and fresh herbs and spices
- Snacks: Fresh fruit or vegetable crudites
- Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with onions and bell peppers
- Lunch: Quinoa salad with avocado, sweetcorn and coriander
- Dinner: Vegetable chilli con carne (mixed beans) with brown rice
- Snacks: Organic Greek yogurt and fruit
- Breakfast: Large fruit salad with organic Greek yogurt, plus a small handful of mixed unsalted nuts
- Lunch: Baked potato with grilled chicken breast and a green salad
- Dinner: White fish fillet baked with herbs, with brown rice and steamed vegetables
- Snacks: Fruit, edamame beans and vegetable crudites
As Day Four, but reintroduce any foods that you have not yet consumed after your juice cleanse.
How Do You Sign Up To A Juice Cleanse?
There are many online juice cleanse companies who will deliver juices to your door so that you can keep your entire stock in your fridge throughout your cleanse. These companies usually offer durations from one to seven days, and may also sell the juices individually.
What Do You Get With A Juice Cleanse Diet?
When you purchase a juice cleanse program you will receive your juices direct to your door, as well as (usually) instructions about when to drink each juice and what else you are permitted to consume during the cleanse, as well as how to ‘break’ the cleanse.
The Juice Cleanse diets are widely criticized as fad diets with no direct long term weight loss or health benefits. They are usually deficient in protein and fibre and can cause muscle wastage and digestive problems if used regularly or long term.
Juice cleanses are not scientifically supported and have been criticized for the cleanse companies’ poor understanding of nutritional science as well as potentially dangerous side effects. Juice cleanse diets also fail to educate their followers on sustainable healthy lifestyle changes, meaning that regaining the weight lost during the diet is highly likely.
Consuming juice does not provide all the nutrients one needs for a healthy diet, and eating a low protein diet will promote muscle wastage which has a negative effect on metabolism long term. Furthermore these juices are high in sugar and a high sugar diet can contribute to a number of health problems. They are also not suitable for many people including those with diabetes and other blood sugar conditions, or pregnant or breastfeeding women. A huge study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who consumed whole fruit had a lower than average risk of developing type 2 diabetes, whereas people who drank fruit juice had an elevated risk of developing the disease. Some studies have shown that juice cleanses work to help people lose weight- however this is in all likelihood due to the calorie deficit, and similar results would probably be found with other calorie deficit diets.
A much better alternative to a juice cleanse diet would be to consume a healthy, balanced diet high in vegetables and undertake a regular exercise plan. This article is not intended as a substitute for medical advice; seek your doctor’s advice before changing your diet or undertaking a weight loss plan.