There is a myriad of diet trends available today, from intermittent fasting to juice detoxes to the keto diet. Whether you've just returned from an indulgent vacation or are ready to feel confident and fit at the pool this summer, many people are curious about juice fasting and detox diets — and whether they actually work.
Here, we'll take a look at detox diet pros and cons that you'll want to weigh as you decide whether a detox diet is the right fit for you, and what to expect if you decide to move forward with a juice fast detox diet plan.
What Is A Juice Cleanse Detox?
Humans have understood the benefits of juice for thousands of years, with the earliest records of juicing dating earlier than 150 B.C. In the early 1900s, pasteurization was developed to meet the needs of California farmers with an oversupply of orange juice (before the age of refrigeration). Suddenly, juice didn't necessarily need to be fresh anymore, making different types of juices available to a far greater population than ever before.
Juice fasting cleanses have been popular for years, for good reason. Many people tout this natural, simple approach to losing weight and getting rid of toxins as a powerful alternative to diet pills, restrictive weight loss plans, and weight loss surgery.
Juice cleansing isn't a one size fits all prescription for feeling good and losing weight. Different needs require different types of juices. Some people may be interested in juice cleansing to help them finally break free from sugar addiction, while others may be looking for a cleanse to help improve liver function.
Here, we'll take a look at the different types of juice cleanses, how to decide whether a juice cleanse might be a good fit for your needs, examples of juices you might enjoy during a juice cleanse, and how to stay strong when your willpower to stick to your juice cleanse begins to fade.
Different Types of Juice Detox Cleanses
If you're thinking about doing a juice cleanse to rid your system of toxins, boost your liver function, or help break your addiction to sugar or simple carbs, it's a good idea to do some research to help you decide what type of juice cleanse is the best fit for your needs.
Juice cleanses typically last from one to seven days, with some juice cleanses lasting ten days or longer. During a juice fast, you may exclusively drink juice and water. Some juice fasts also allow for daily smoothies, while others may permit you to have the occasional plant-based meal or snack to help you stay strong during your fast.
The vast majority of juice fasts do not allow caffeine or added sugar. If you're used to a morning cup of coffee or an afternoon candy bar, your system may be in for a rude awakening as you give up your old vices in favor of fresh-pressed juice.
Some juice cleanses offer juices delivered to your door, while other juice cleanse and detox programs recommend that you make juices on your own, with your juicer at home. An important note when you're trying to decide whether to press your juice at home or go with a prepackaged option: The longer your juice sits before you drink it, the fewer nutrients it will have. If possible, it's a great idea to drink your juice as soon it's finished juicing. Making your juice at home can also save you a pretty penny, as pre-made juice cleanse and detox options tend to be pricey.
Some juice cleanses allow you to drink as much fresh-pressed fruit and veggie juice as you like, while others require that you only drink your juice at certain times of the day. Some juice detoxes require that you stick to certain juice recipes, while others provide you with a go-to list of fruits and veggies and allow you to create your own juices.
No matter what type of juice fast you choose, it's important that you load up on the veggies in your juices and go easy on high-sugar fruits, like apples and oranges (especially if you're working to cut down on sugar). High-sugar juices can create a crash later in the day that leaves you not just exhausted — but also more likely to give into the cravings that are likely to hit hard a few days into your juice fast.
Are Juice Fasts Safe?
If you're thinking about trying a juice fast to rid your body of toxins and boost your energy, it's a smart move to chat with your doctor about whether juicing alone for a few days is a good fit for your needs. While most people can withstand a few days of the low caloric intake that naturally accompanies a juice fast, people with certain health issues or those who already have a lower body weight may experience health problems related to the fast.
You'll also want to think about whether it's a good idea to keep up with your normal exercise routine while you're completing your detoxification process. While light yoga or walking is usually recommended, more intense exercise can be dangerous, or could even cause you to faint. Listen to your body, and know that it's ok to take a step back from your normal fitness routine while your body does the hard work of releasing toxins.
The bottom line: don't make any major changes to your diet, even for a few days, without talking to your doctor about whether your new plan is a good fit for you.
Preparing For A Detoxification Diet: What You Need To Know
If you've decided to move forward with a juice detox diet, it's important that you fully prepare yourself before day one. Detoxification is serious business, and you're more likely to be successful if you have as many pieces of the plan in place as possible before you get started.
Have a Plan
Don't just decide that you're going to juice for a few days and see how it goes. It's important that you have a plan. You can choose from online juice detoxification plans, or create your own plan — either way, be sure you know what's coming.
While going through a juice detox fast at home is usually far cheaper than ordering premade detoxification juices, you'll still want to budget for spending quite a bit on produce. Have a shopping list, and get a little bit more than you think you'll need. Sometimes, fruits and veggies can produce a lower yield due to age or size, and you'll want to make sure that you get every drop of detoxification goodness necessary to get you the results that you want on your fast.
Check In With Yourself
Most people don't decide that they need to rid their bodies of toxins without reason. Find a way to record how you're feeling at the start of your fast so that you can check your progress over time. Whether you choose to take before pictures, write down health problems you're experiencing, take measurements, or something else that works for you, knowing that you have a “before” to compare to your “after” can help you stay motivated, even on the rough days.
Completing A Juice Cleanse: The Pros
Juicing enthusiasts agree that there are many ways a juice cleanse can benefit your body, including:
Digestive relief — When you flood your system with easily digestible nutrients, you're giving your body a break from the tough day-to-day work of breaking down food, especially if you tend to eat a lot of processed food. If you suffer from digestive ailments like acid reflux due to overeating or going to sleep on a full stomach, you may find that your symptoms improve after a few days of a juice cleanse. You may find that your gut health improves after you complete your detox due to the diet's colon cleansing effect.
Nutrient influx — Your liver, kidneys, and other detoxification systems may benefit from the nutrients you're introducing into your system from your juice fast. If there is a specific organ that you want to cleanse, be sure to do your research and choose a juice fast that provides detoxification for that organ.
Hydration — Most of us struggle to get the recommended amount of water each day (one oz. for every two pounds of body weight). For many people, a juice fast helps to hydrate the body, both through juice and water intake. For people who normally drink caffeine, this benefit can be major, as caffeinated beverages act as diuretics that leech water from the body.
Anti-inflammatory boost — Inflammation is the enemy of the body, and many fruit and vegetable juices are high in anti-inflammatory compounds that can help ease chronic conditions and provide an energy boost. While some people report feeling tired during the detoxification process, others report a renewed and heightened sense of energy, likely due to a decrease in inflammation.
Cons Of Detoxing
While there are many upsides to completing a juice fast, there can be some downsides as well.
Issues experienced by some people during a juice fast include:
Stomach problems — No matter how your body processes the toxins released during the detoxification process, you'll be hitting the bathroom more often. While increased urine output is expected with increased fluid intake, some people also experience less pleasant gastrointestinal distress. While a slight uptick in bowel movements is nothing to worry about, a stark increase could result in dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and other issues.
Food-borne illness — If you choose to order juices that are unpasteurized or do not take proper precautions when making your own juice at home, it's possible that you could fall victim to food poisoning. While many people can fight off illness-causing bacteria on their own, very old or very young people, as well as those with weakened immune systems, are more susceptible to becoming ill.
Low caloric intake — Juice cleanses, by nature, are low in calories. While eating fewer calories allows the body to release toxins by giving the digestive system a break, it can also cause issues including feeling faint or lightheaded, having trouble sleeping, mood swings, and headaches. Steer clear of super low calorie plans, such as the master cleanse, as it can lead to negative health effects. If you notice signs that your intake of calories is too low, or you feel like you're experiencing low blood sugar levels, you may want to eat a plant-based snack.
Weight gain after fast — Most people lose weight during a juice cleanse or fast but may find that the weight comes back on once they go back to eating regular food. This can be due to water weight lost (and regained) during a juice fast. While a few pounds may stay off after the detox ends, it's important to remember that the benefits of completing a juice fast go far beyond weight loss and that a post-detox system, free of toxins, may contribute to your long-term weight loss and fitness goals.
Juice Only, Or Juice Plus Food? How To Decide
While many juice fasts encourage drinking only juices and water to help aid the body in the detoxification process, many encourage you to eat seeds, nuts, fruits, or veggies if you feel that you need to eat to keep your energy up. You don't necessarily need to decide whether you're going to do a straight juice cleanse or a juice + food cleanse before you get started. It's ok to take some time along the way to figure out what your body needs.
If you decide that you need to eat during your juice cleanse diet, you'll want to be sure to choose high-quality, organic, unprocessed snacks. Sticking with the whole versions of the fruits and vegetables you're using in your juices can be a good way to support your energy levels while continuing to provide your body with the nutrients necessary for the detoxification process.
Juice Cleanse Examples
A few juice combinations that you may enjoy during your juice cleanse diet include:
- Kale, spinach, lemon, orange, a dash of apple cider vinegar, and apple
- Strawberry, raspberry, cucumber, mint, and lime
- Sweet potato, orange, lemon, beet, and blackberry
Switching up your juice recipes throughout your cleanse can help you stay interested, motivated, and on track, even when boredom begins to set in. As you go through your juice cleanse, be sure to take note of any juice combinations that you love, so you can incorporate them into your normal juicing routine.
Smoothie Vs. Juice Cleanse
Trying to decide between a smoothie diet and a juice cleanse? First, it's key to know the difference between the two. A smoothie is a blend of whole fruits, veggies, and may also include other items like coconut milk or yogurt. Smoothies retain the fiber of the fruits and vegetables in the recipe. Juices, on the other hand, do not have the fiber content of a smoothie. Some people feel that it's easier to absorb nutrients from juices, while others prefer the taste of juices to smoothies. Some smoothie enthusiasts feel that smoothies help them stay satiated for a longer period and that it's easier to stick to a smoothie cleanse than a juice cleanse.
Looking for the best of both worlds? You may want to think about combining smoothie and juice detox diets to create the perfect plan for your needs.
What To Expect During The Detoxification Diet Process
Sticking to a detox isn't always easy, but it's doable.
Throughout a juice fast, most people experience these phases:
Excitement — When your juice fast begins, it's normal to feel excited about getting started! Embrace every minute, and set your sights on how great you'll feel when your detox is complete and your body has released toxins.
Temptation — Whether your significant other is cooking dinner, or you're suddenly hit with a sugar craving, temptation tends to set in once excitement has subsided. This is a great time to begin a new hobby, commit to deep cleaning the house, or dive into a new project at work.
Resolution — Finally, the end is in sight! At this point, you've overcome the temptation stage, and you're ready to push through until the end.
If you decide that a juice fast detox is the right fit for you, take it one hour at a time. Try not to get overwhelmed by the big picture. It may help to join up with some friends or family members who have similar goals so that you can motivate and encourage one another along the way.