Juice Cleanse Analyzed

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A juice cleanse (also known as a “juice fast”) 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. Advocates 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 this particular method of detoxing, 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 will have three stages – the pre-cleanse, the juice cleanse itself, and the post-cleanse. 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 include a daily smoothie with protein and fibre to provide increased nutritional intake while on the program.

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. Supporters claim that what you eat during your pre cleanse will have a direct impact on how efficiently your body responds.

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.

Pre Cleanse Sample Menu:

  • 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 detoxes 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: Beginning The Regime

Backers 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) is the standard amount, along with other permitted liquids. At least half of the total daily juice volume should be green vegetable juice.

Daily Cleanse Schedule Example:

  • Upon waking: One glass of warm water with fresh lemon squeezed into it
  • #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.
  • #2 at 10.30-11.30am: Another juice containing 4 cups of chopped watermelon, 1cm of fresh ginger and 1 peeled lemon.
  • #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.
  • #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.
  • #5 at 5-6pm: Another juice containing 1 large pomegranate and 1 large orange.
  • #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 (Post Cleanse)

After going through the second stage, you will want to gently ‘break’ the cleanse 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.

Post Cleanse Sample Menu:

Day One:

  • 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.

Day Two:

  • 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.

Day Three:

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with onions and bell peppers.
  • Lunch: Quinoa salad with avocado, sweetcorn and coriander.
  • Dinner: Vegetable chili con carne (mixed beans) with brown rice.
  • Snacks: Organic Greek yogurt and fruit.

Day Four:

  • 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.

Criticism & Controversy

These detoxes are widely criticized as fad diets with no direct long term weight loss or health benefits. They are usually deficient in protein and fiber and can cause muscle wastage and digestive problems if used regularly or long term.

These types of liquid-only detoxes 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 cleanses 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 the juices can be high in sugar, which can contribute to a number of health problems.

It goes without saying that they are also not suitable for those with diabetes and other blood sugar conditions. They’re also not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Harvard Scientists Say Excessive Amounts Of Juice Is Not A Great Idea

A huge study on fruit juice intake 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 they 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.

How To Start?

You can either make your own using groceries purchased from the supermarket, or you can buy pre-made packages – there are many online companies who will deliver 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 them individually.


A much better alternative to a juice cleanse 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.

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Fact Checked

This article has been reviewed and fact-checked by a certified nutritionist, and only uses information from credible academic sources.