The weather is getting warmer, Christmas is approaching, clothes are getting lighter. Just like clockwork, it seems like every one is trying to get "Summer body ready" pronto.
Juice cleanses have often been hailed as not only a rapid weight-loss tool, but a vehicle to achieve various other health goals ranging from detoxification, improving skin complexion, reducing water rention, improving energy (the list goes on).
On the other hand; we have skeptics denouncing the effectiveness, claiming they are dangerous and ineffective in both weight loss and detoxification.
Then, we are left with everyone else who just wants to know what the heck we should believe. So, we asked our Vitable nutritionist to weigh in on the topic and debunk the myths surrounding the trend.
So, what exactly constitutes as a juice cleanse?
A juice cleanse is whatever the individual makes of it. Usually, it consists of drinking only vegetable or fruit (or a mixture of both) for a period of time. Typically, this is anywhere between 1-14 days.
Usually, the intention behind the cleanse is to 'detoxify' or to lose weight.
Do you lose weight on a juice cleanse?
Typically, the body will be in a calorie deficit whilst on a juice cleanse which may lead to short term weight loss. However, this does not mean it's a healthy way to lose weight.
Not only is rapid weight loss unhealthy, but it often doesn't last. Often the weight loss you see on the scale is due to a lack of food in your GI tract and a loss of muscle experienced during the cleanse.
Further to this point, consuming only liquids can cause your metabolism to slow down. This may incidently lead to weight gain once you go back to a normal diet incorporating whole foods.
Your body may also experience unwanted bloating and distention once solid foods are reintroduced. This can lead to discomfort and digestion difficulties.
What about detoxification?
Although often viewed as a 'quick fix' solution. There isn't actually any scientific evidence to show that juice cleanses actually increase the detoxification process.
Our livers are highly effective at detoxing on their own. In fact, the fibre found in whole fruits and vegetables have been found to assist in the detoxification process. Therefore, the act of eliminating this in a cleanse can actually hinder your liver's capacity to effectively detoxify.
What are the main arguements you would make against a juice cleanse?
The cleanse can result in nutrient deficiencies. Juice is almost completely lacking in protein and vitamins such as B12. Depending on how long the cleanse goes for, this can be seriously harmful for your health.
The juices are often high in sugar. Although it is in the form of fructose, it can still cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
The lack of fibre in juice can cause issues for your gut microbiome. The healthy bacteria in your gut have no fibre to feed off, and this may also lead to constipation.
Due to the juices often being so low in calories, a strict cleanse can result in headaches, dizziness, inability to concentrate, a reduction in bone density and muscle loss.
Are there any benefits of a juice cleanse?
There are definitely some positives. For many, the modern diet and lifestyle means that they are constantly grazing throughout the day. A sedentary lifestyle combined with long work hours mean that our digestive systems rarely get a break for an extended period of time.
A juice cleanse allows your body to have a break from constantly digesting food. This could reduce bloating and the build up of food in your system, and give your body a chance to reset.
Secondly, for those who don't get their recommended servings of fruits and vegetables int heir daily diet; juicing could help. Providing each juice has a healthy balance of both fruits and vegetables, this could aid in meeting your vitamin requirements.
That being said; both of these results could be achieved through a) reducing your eating window each day and b) increasing the amounts of whole foods in your diet.
The final word?
I wouldn't advise doing a juice cleanse. Your body is able to effectively detox on it's own, and is highly resilient in it's capacity to do so.
If the cleanse is for weight loss, I would advise a diet of whole fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and good sources of protein (organic fish, chicken and red meat). In combination with regular exercise, this will lead to safe and long term weight loss.
If you are absolutely set on partaking in a cleanse, my advice would be blend fruits and vegetables and consume them in smoothie form. This will ensure that there is fibre maintained in the liquid whilst getting your daily serve of fruit and vegetables.