For some people, the idea of consuming nothing but juice for several days at a time might be crazy. Ridiculous, even!
If you’re one of them, I don’t blame you. For centuries we have been brainwashed to think that we need to eat food all the time. And lots of unhealthy junk, too! From processed foods to artificial ingredients and pesticide residues, there’s a lot of nasty stuff in food that isn’t doing your body any good.
Even if you think you aren’t doing anything wrong nutrition-wise, your body may be disagreeing with your diet. You’ll know by the extra little bulges here and there, or the 10 or 15 pounds that just never seems to go away no matter how “healthy” you think you’re eating. You might also be suffering from allergies, having trouble with indigestion or sleeping, for example.
That’s where juice cleanses, or juice
Health Benefits of Juice Cleansing
Juice cleanses are popular for a reason, but they aren’t your typical fad diet. The benefits are backed up by science.
Studies show that cleanses involving raw fruit and vegetable juice can significantly reduce weight. There are several ways in which cleanses help you lose weight, but generally speaking, it’s because you abstain from eating solid food while getting most of your nutrients from juices, which are much lower in calories. If you are able to follow up with a plant-based diet instead of reverting back to bad habits, you are more likely to keep the weight off.
For most people, the first 1-3 days after starting a cleanse is the hardest. But once you get past it, you’ll start to notice a spike in your energy levels. Totally worth it! Juice cleansing gives your body a rush of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes in their clean, pure state, and they are absorbed quickly and efficiently into the body. In addition, the anti-inflammatory compounds contained in the nutrients can give a good boost your immune system.
Everyone these days talks about mental health, but too little is being said about the impact of your food on your emotional wellbeing. If you think a happy meal at your favorite fast-food chain is a shortcut to real happiness, you’re mistaken. Processed food has been tied to depression, so if you’ve been feeling down, you might want to consider a juice cleanse.
There are several other well-researched benefits to juice cleansing including improved hydration, reduced inflammation, and a healthier digestive system. Seasoned juicers have different motives for going on a juice fast. But regardless of the reason behind it, weight loss is always a delightful bonus!
What To Avoid
There’s much more to juice cleanses than just drinking the juices of your favorite fruit every day for a week. If you want to succeed, you have to do it right. Here’s what you avoid:
- Avoid skipping the pre-cleanse: Doing a pre-cleanse by keeping off processed foods a week or two before the actual juice cleanse helps you get in the right state of mind for success. It’s also very beneficial to limit or stay away from alcohol, caffeine, dairy, animal products, and refined sugars – before as well as after your cleanse.
- Avoid high sugar and high-calorie juices: If you aren’t making the juices yourself, there’s no way to tell how much sugar, syrup, or other additives could be in a juice. You could even be drinking as much as 400 calories in one glass of juice without knowing. Save yourself the calories by researching nutrients and opting for juices that follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of ingredients come from vegetables, and the rest comes from fruit that’s low in sugar.
- Avoid juicing fruits without veggies: Juice contains fructose, a natural sweetener. If you’re only taking in fruit juice, that means lots of sugar, which can put you at risk for diabetes – or even worsen it if you already have diabetes. Plus you don’t want to go through any unnecessary blood sugar swings!
- Avoid gulping down your juice: You’ll want to drink slowly and savor every mouthful, so that you can absorb its nutrients more effectively.
Popular Juice Cleanses
Instead of improvising your own juice cleanse, why not check out some of these tried-and-tested popular programs?
3 Day Juice Cleanse
The 3 Day Juice Cleanse is ideal for a beginner who wants to ease in slowly. For three whole days, it’s recommended to consume at least 32 ounces of a smoothie or juice, and at least half of that should be coming from green vegetables. That translates to about 6 juices per day. Check out this easy 3 day juice cleanse plan with recipes.
7 Day Skinny Cleanse
The 7 Day Skinny Cleanse was popularized by Raw Generation. It’s designed to help you lose at least 5 pounds after the first three days by drinking pre-made fresh fruit and vegetable juices.
21 Day Juice Cleanse
This cleanse is not for newbies! The 21 Day Juice Cleanse involves three phases and its purpose is deep healing. Phase 1 lasts for eight days, wherein you’re allowed to eat nothing but fresh fruit and vegetable juice as well and water. In phase 2, you’re allowed to eat light food including whole fruit and some soup for three days. Phase 3 involves getting 75% of your daily food intake from raw food. Check out this example 21 day cleanse.
Word of warning: If you choose to do a juice cleanse for more than 3 days, it’s best to do it under the supervision of a dietitian or other nutrition specialist. You don’t want to inadvertently become deficient in vital nutrients such as calcium or protein and compromise your health.
How To Prepare For A Juice Cleanse
Juicing is a big step forward in achieving a healthier you. But diving headfirst into it is a huge mistake. Preparing for a cleanse is critical to your success – and health. Here’s what you should keep in mind:
- Cut down on junk food, caffeine, booze, and cigarettes at least two weeks before – this can help minimize your withdrawal symptoms during the cleanse.
- Get your juicer and juice recipes organized in advance. If you don’t have a juicer yet, you might like to consider one of these cold-pressed juicers.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
- Get lots of sleep and rest.
The right preparation also goes for your produce, too. Going organic is always best; this ensures that you aren’t putting any nasty pesticides and toxins from the produce into your body. That would defeat the purpose of juicing.
If organic produce is too expensive, the next best thing you can do is to clean your fruit and vegetables thoroughly before you juice them. Take a look at this article to learn which fruit and veggies definitely require a good wash, as well as a simple and easy wash recipe.
What To Expect
Juicing will affect everyone differently. Some people get emotional, while others experience physical sensations, such as headaches and cravings.
Dealing with Hunger
Expect to feel hungry during the first one to two days, which are usually the hardest. That’s because you’re so used to eating solid food regularly and it can feel like you are in withdrawal. By the third or fourth day, the digestive system is adjusting and slowing down.
If you do experience strong hunger pains that are hard to bear, you could eat a light salad or some vegetable broth to tide you over. From the outset, you could also decide to take a gentler approach with your cleanse by eating some vegan food or a smoothie, place of a juice.
Some people feel tired and fatigued early on. Try to do a cleanse on days that you don’t have to exert too much physical or mental energy. This is not a good time to exercise; juice cleanses should give you the opportunity to rest and heal.
It helps to take down notes throughout your cleanse to better observe how your body reacts, allowing you to fine-tune your next cleanse.
Listen & Consult
Last but not least, always listen to your body. If something feels off even if you’re following the most popular juice fast around, stop and talk to your doctor.
Remember, juice cleansing is not for everyone – for example if you are pregnant or nursing. You should always consult a doctor especially if you have concerns or questions before you begin a juice cleanse. Just be aware that everyone reacts differently when they move from a solid food to a juice diet.
A consultation with your doctor is more critical if you have an existing health condition, since juice cleanses should only be done when you’re sure that your body can handle it. You may need to alter your juice plan in order to protect your overall wellbeing.
When the cleanse is over, you’ll want to return to your regular balanced, whole food diet slowly. Ideally, you would eat mostly fruit, nuts and vegetables (raw or lightly steamed) on your first day after the cleanse. The next day you could start eating other plant foods such as quinoa and beans. From then on you can eat dairy foods, if you wish, and eggs. Gradually reintroduce the other foods you would normally eat. Chew your food really well so it gets properly digested!
How Often To Do A Juice Cleanse?
You may be wondering how often you should do a juice cleanse. Firstly, take stock of how you are feeling. Are you feeling sluggish or bloated; is your skin looking a bit lifeless? Are your good eating habits starting to dwindle? These signs indicate that a cleanse may be in order.
Some committed juicers like to do a regular cleanse two to four times a year, as a part of a healthy lifestyle. Others like to do a cleanse at the change of the seasons, or after the excesses of the holiday season, for example. If you are in tune with your body, you’ll know when it’s the right time for you to give your digestive system a rest and get a healing system reboot!
The Real Secret
Yes, juice cleansing does have several amazing benefits including weight loss. But the real secret to losing weight through a cleanse is being prepared, choosing the right cleansing program to suit you, and then following up with a nutrient-rich, mostly plant-based diet. This way, whatever weight you lose stays off for good!
It’s also not uncommon to see people turning to juice cleansing to help them heal from certain health conditions. At the end of the day, there really is nothing quite like feeding your body the nutrients it needs straight from the source by juicing – and you get to lose weight in the process.