When a colleague of mine suggested we try a juice cleanse together recently, I was reminded of a funny article from The New York Times a year or so ago in which the writer described the three phases of a liquid fast: 1) I am hungry, 2) Hey, this isn't so bad, and 3) Kill me now.
The idea of several days with no solid food doesn't sound like something one would voluntarily elect to try. Still, juice cleanses are becoming increasingly popular and there are now several competing brands all trying to be your main squeeze, pun intended.
Most of the systems tout weight loss, cleansing of toxins and healthier skin by trading in solid foods for fruit and vegetable based juices for a span of three to ten days. I spent some time with Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Marjorie Nolan to find out if there's any solid evidence that juice cleanses work.
While Nolan believes that a cleanse may be a good weight loss motivator, she says they should be approached with caution. The average cleanse contains about 800-1200 calories per day and may not provide enough energy for active people. Often times, according to Nolan, people lose muscle weight as opposed to fat and tend to lose good bacteria from their digestive tract that is necessary to regulate digestion and boost our immune systems.
That said, are these juices healthier than most soft drinks? Yes. Compared to soda or orange juice--which can contain up to 40 grams of sugar per 12 ounce serving--the juice cleanse products are a vitamin-packed choice which can be used to supplement your diet.
In skimming the ingredient list on most juice cleanse bottles, you will see everything from kale, ginger and carrots to turmeric and chlorophyll. Nolan and I had our own taste test, trying popular brands like Cooler Cleanse and Organic Avenue. We found some of the juices were delicious and others were…a more acquired taste.
If you want to try them for yourself, be advised that depending on your budget these juices may put a squeeze on your wallet. Most are sold online or at select grocery stores, and run from $25 to $70 a day.
Before starting any sort of fast, cleanse or new weight loss plan, it's always a good idea to consult with your doctor.