Continuing my thoughts on popular fad diets, here’s my take on juice cleanses and why you should stay away.
Background: Juicing became popular in the past decade as many high-profile celebrities endorsed juice cleanses as a way to lose weight and “detox” the body from harmful toxins. Most juice cleanses last between 3-14 days and consist of a variety of fruit and vegetable based juices meant to be drank over the course of the day.
The Good: The juices tend to come from organic fruits and vegetables, so your body is getting a ton of vitamins and minerals without the pesticides you get with conventional produce. Because the diet is low in calories, weight loss usually does occur.
The Bad: During weight loss, people lose a mix of fat and muscle. Getting enough exercise and eating sufficient protein helps maintain muscle mass (which will keep metabolism high) so that mostly fat is being lost. Juice cleanses are very low in protein and typically discourage exercise, which favors a loss in muscle mass. Juice cleanses also claim to rid the body of harmful toxins, however the liver and kidneys do a perfectly good job of doing that naturally. Ironically the diet is low in fiber, which does help remove harmful waste from the intestine. The lack of both protein and fiber, which help keep a person feeling full, will keep dieters hungry and cranky through the juice cleanse. After the juice cleanse is over, dieters typically put the weight back on quickly. A juice cleanse does not teach a person how to eat better and after a couple days the weight comes back on.
The Bottom Line: You do not need a juice cleanse to lose weight or remove toxins from the body, and it can actually be harmful and counterproductive to do so. If you want to avoid putting harmful compounds into your body, focus instead on eating organically and sticking to lean meats and fish, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.