Should You Do a Juice Cleanse?


It's that time of year again.  Time to undue the damage caused by all those holiday treats and libations.  Sigh… Anyway, you're determined to lose the weight and thinking about doing a juice cleanse to get things started.  You might want to reconsider.

A juice cleanse consists of drinking only fresh vegetable and fruit juices anywhere from a few days to several weeks.  You can make your own unpasteurized, fresh juice at home, but most people buy their juices for the cleanse at a local juicery (No, you can't just drink orange juice from the store)  The cleanses contain about 1,000 calories per day.

Going on a juice cleanse for a couple of days probably won't hurt you.  It may actually give you a sense of focus and accomplishment and get you into the right mind set for once the cleanse is over.  However, the weight you lose will mostly be water weight and will come right back on if you don't change your eating habits.  

The danger comes when you do a cleanse for longer.  Yes, you will lose weight.  You do whenever you take in less calories then you burn in a day.  This "diet" however is lacking so many vital nutrients and is protein deficient.  Insufficient protein leads to muscle loss which causes your metabolism to slow down.  This means some of the weight you lose is muscle, not fat. Once you're done with the cleanse, you are likely to gain the weight back and MORE!

You may feel very light headed and dizzy, not to mention ravenous, even if only cleansing for a few days. One reason is that you are simply not taking in enough calories.  The other reason is that the juices may adversely affect your blood sugar levels.  Since you are only consuming juice on a cleanse, there is no fiber, fat or protein to help slow the absorption of the natural sugars. This can make you shaky and bring on that feeling of crashing and burning. This is also why juicing can be particularly dangerous for those who are diabetic or hypoglycemic.  

A major concern with juice cleanses is the practicality of them.  It's tough to go to work, take care of the kids, deal with your spouse, etc when you're hungry, cranky, dizzy or lacking strength and stamina.  Exercise might be too difficult as well, which means less calories burned and a slower metabolism. Juice cleanses can also set you back a pretty penny.  A three day cleanse will run you about $300.

Personally, I would not do a long-term juice cleanse.  I believe clean eating and fitness training is the healthy way to get lasting results.  If you want to do a very short term juice cleanse,  make sure you proceed with caution.