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Juice cleanses (along with fresh juices in general) have become a go-to for health nuts and normies alike. They’re taken up by many people looking to lose weight, but they’re most often used as a ‘reset’ button that supposedly detoxes the body. Some health nuts swear by them, while other dieticians and nutritionists warn of their potentially negative, and even dangerous, health impacts.
If you’re thinking of starting 2022 off with a juice cleanse, or are curious about the science behind them, you’re in luck. We’ve consulted numerous experts on the benefits, pitfalls and many misconceptions about juice cleanses that exist in the health world today. The consensus? Juices are healthy when consumed alongside protein and healthy fats as part of a well-rounded, sustainable diet. Juice cleanses? Not so much. Read on to find out more.
Editor’s Note: Some quotes have been lightly edited for grammar and clarity.
Are Juice Cleanses Healthy?
First off, let’s clarify what we mean by a juice cleanse. A cleanse is typically a 2-5 day period where you only consume juices. Some may just be fruits and vegetables, others may include healthy fats like nuts and avocado. Regardless, a cleanse typically means you’re primarily consuming juice for an extended period of time.
For the most part, the nutrition experts we interviewed were not supportive of juice cleanses as a strategy for healthy living long term.
Kristian Morey, a Registered Dietician at the Endocrinology Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD explains that “Juices are often made of healthy ingredients – fruits and vegetables – which are essential components of good nutrition. But in and of themselves, they do not provide your body with all essential nutrients.”
“Relying solely on juiced fruits and vegetables also neglects another nutrient your body needs – protein. In order for your body to continuously rebuild and repair its tissues, it must have a constant source of amino acids to pull from. If your body isn’t getting them from the food you’re eating, it’s going to get them from your own muscles. As we lose muscle mass, our calorie-burning capacity lowers, making it harder and harder to lose weight.”
Can Juice Cleanses Help You Lose Weight?
Since we’re willing to bet very few people opt into a temporary diet consisting of just squeezed fruits and veggies for fun, the next question becomes: do juice cleanses help you lose weight? Again, the consensus among the hand full of health experts we talked to was no.
Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M, C.N.S, D.C and founder of Ancient Nutrition explained that “Cleanses are unlikely to lead to long-term weight loss because they don’t teach you how to sustainably stick to a healthy, balanced diet. They might lead to some initial weight loss, but the weight is likely to return once someone resumes their normal diet.”
He went on to explain that “Only drinking juice for several days will also result in calorie deprivation that ultimately leads to a slow down of your metabolic rate. Once your metabolism drops, this makes it harder to lose weight in the long-run.”
Alicia Galvin, R.D for Sovereign Laboratories agreed, explaining that juice cleanses are “a short-term solution. Initially, you may lose a lot of water weight, but as soon as you start eating again, you will likely gain back that fluid.”
Morey also shared that there’s very little evidence that juice cleanses help your body “detox” in any effective way.
“There is little evidence that juice cleanses actually detoxify the body. Claims about cleanses are often vague and provide inconsistent information about what detoxification even is. What is scientifically proven to remove the toxins you consume from your body? Your liver and kidneys.”
What Are the Benefits of Juice Cleanses?
While none of the nutritionists listed outright benefits of juice cleanses, they did explain that juice in and of itself can have nutritional benefits when consumed as part of a healthy diet overall.
Morey explained that “Juices can provide several B vitamins, as well as vitamins A, C, E, and K (depending on the fruits and vegetables used).”
Dr. Axe noted that “fresh pressed juices offer vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes such as vitamin C, polyphenols, carotenoids and others.”
Many of them recommended making juice a part of your nutritious meal rather than the whole thing, or even the main course.
Juliana Tamayo, a nutritionist at Fitness Clone, shared some of the advice she offers her weight loss clients. “A green juice that has added probiotics, antioxidants, and protein can be a great way to get your vitamins, minerals, and fiber on a busy morning or as a pre-workout snack.”
“I recommend juices for clients that are lacking vegetables and fruits in their diets, however, I focus on adding them as a snack, and accompanied with a source of protein. Having a juice by itself is harmful because it raises blood sugar levels almost immediately, they can also be very high in sugar and additives, and in most cases, the fiber will be lost after all the processing.”
Does all this mean you shouldn’t do a juice cleanse? Absolutely not. Now that you have all the information you need about the nutritional benefits, and potential downfalls, you can make an informed decision based on your diet, body and health goals.
How Juice Cleanses Work
Juice cleanses typically come in one, three, or seven-day packages, but go as high as 10-day package for real pros. Each day consists of several juices that are often tailored to different times of day (i.e. an energy-boosting blend for breakfast and a relaxing juice before bed). Some juice cleanse programs also suggest incorporating light vegetarian or vegan meals as well.
1. Pressed Juicery Cleanse 2
Pressed Juicery has become one of the biggest fresh juice brands in the country. They’ve been so successful because they make simple, healthy, and most importantly, tasty juices. This cleanse is their most popular because it’s effective for pros yet approachable enough for beginners. It’s by far the favorite amongst Spy readers on this list for its quality, taste and effectiveness. The cleanse consists of six juices per day that you drink every two hours. Each juice is made for a different time of day, and many of them contain healthy fats and protein you need to not starve your body of key nutrients and ignite intense cravings. It’s the most well-rounded juice cleanse pick, and our favorite for those who want to try one in 2022.
2. Raw Generation 3-Day Cleanse
This 3-Day Skinny Cleanse from Raw Generation is designed to help you lose up to five pounds in three days with six nutrition-packed juices each day formulated to help you burn fat, feel more energized for exercise and eliminate bloating. The pack comes with six cold-pressed juices you can enjoy in any order including delicious flavors like Sweet Greens, Citrus Carrot and Sweet Roots. The juices are made with 100% raw, plant-based ingredients and contain no added preservatives, sugars, artificial flavors or chemicals. They’re also packed with enzymes naturally occurring in nature as well as probiotics and prebiotics to help your gut process and detox as you kick off a healthier lifestyle. These juices also arrive flash frozen so you can keep them frozen and enjoy them whenever you’re ready. This juice is also a favorite amongst SPY readers!
3. Pressed Juicery Detox Half-Day Fast
BEST FOR INTERMITTENT FASTING
Intermittent fasting has skyrocketed in popularity recently, and for good reason. It’s an effective weight loss strategy, and adding a half-day juice cleanse to your fast might make it even better. That’s why Pressed Juicery offers this half-day cleanse with four juices and a wellness shot. Drink one of the juices every two hours to replace breakfast and lunch, and then eat a lean dinner with plenty of protein and healthy fats to finish off the day. This cleanse is a favorite amongst Spy readers!
4. 3-Day Organic Cleanse From Good Stuff Juices
This 3-day cleanse from Good Stuff Juices is made of the freshest organic ingredients with high amounts of vitamins, minerals, healthy enzymes and micronutrients packed into each bottle. They use a cold-pressed technology that retains the flavor, color and nutrients from the fruits and vegetables for maximum absorption in the body. This cleanse is designed to make it easy to stick with your juicing commitment and receive all of the health benefits that come with it without any of the mess. It comes in 3-day and 5-day sizes, but for the beginner we recommend a 3-day cleanse to start.
5. Super Detox ME 1-Day Hybrid Cleanse
BEST ONE-DAY CLEANSE
One-day cleanses are great if you’re too busy to take on a three- to seven-day cleanse. These flash-cleanses are ideal for, say, flushing out the weekend’s toxins on Sunday and get energized for the week ahead. Our favorite one-day cleanse is this Super Detox Me cleanse from Lemonkind. The day consists of six juices and two superfood snacks, keeping you satiated and energized. This manageable approach makes it great for first-time juicers and casual dieters. And best of all, this cleanse won’t make you run to the restroom constantly.
6. Smart Pressed Pineapple Chia Juice Cleanse
SUPERFOOD FIBER CLEANSE
This cleanse from Smart Pressed comes in powder form and is designed to be mixed into smoothies or shakes. It’s less of a cleanse that you fast for and more of a fiber boost you can add to a liquid element of your diet. It’s packed with superfoods like omega-rich flax, chia seeds, pineapple enzymes, psyllium husk, quinoa sprouts, lentils, broccoli and more. It’s formulated to help combat bloating, balance hormones, control hunger and be as convenient to use as possible.
7. Cleanse On The Go 3-day Detox
BEST FOR TRAVEL
Another great powder detox is this one from Cleanse On The Go. It’s well-priced ($70 for a full three-day cleanse), and includes 21 packets of instant juice. Over the three-day period, you’ll drink seven juices a day that detox and naturally provide energy to get you through the process. The package comes highly-rated on Amazon as well, with cleansers loving the easy-to-use packets and weight-cutting results. This makes it a great option for cleansing while traveling, commuting or anyone who will be out and about during the three days.
8. Lemonkind 3-Day Metabolism Booster Cleanse
This cleanse from Lemonkind boasts a hefty serving of different superfoods in each juice. The 3-day cleanse pack comes with 24 juices that are ready-to-drink and infused with ingredients like chlorella, Alphonso mango, carrot ginger, turmeric, blueberry and cinnamon and chia juices. The cleanse includes eight juices a day (designed for drinking one about every two hours) that are easy to follow and delicious enough to stick to. The juices contain high levels of Vitamins A and C as well as antioxidants for immune system support, and all of the mixes contain no additives of any kind. This is a woman-owned business that’s been certified organic and is FDA-approved.
9. Sakara 10-Day Reset
BEST HYBRID CLEANSE
Rather than just containing juices, this cleanse from Sakara has a bunch of nutritional elements you can use to detox over the course of 10 days in your own kitchen, on your own budget. It comes with a 10-day reset recipe book with 20 nutritionally-balanced recipes in it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They give you supplies like a probiotic formula, a detox super bar and an organic protein and super greens powder you can mix into smoothies and bowls. This cleanse means three nutrient-dense meals a day, vitamin-rich foods and fueling your body with foods designed to help you feel better.
10. Raw Foundation 3 Day Juice Cleanse Detox
This three-day cleanse from Raw Foundation utilizes powder packets (like a few of our picks) of varying flavors to help you reap the potential benefits of your cleanse. It consists of 24 packets that come in four varieties: greens, berry blast, citrus kick and protina. Protina is the real star of Raw Foundations cleanse with seven grams of protein. Like all powder juice cleanses, Raw Foundation’s detox is very easy to use and ideal for anyone on-the-go. They also use monk fruit extract as a clever sugar substitute that should keep you away from the cookie jar at night.
11. Suja Organic Juice
Suja has one curated juice cleanse as well as a wide variety of juice flavors you can choose from to create your own cleanse, or you can opt for drinking one alongside your meal or as a midday snack. They’ve got delicious blends including Sweet Beets, Green Delight, Citrus Immunity, Immunity: Carrot Mango, Energized Focus: Raspberry Lemon and Gut Health: Pineapple Coconut. They also have a wide variety of vitality shots. Their 3-day cleanse consists of many of the flavors I mentioned, and is designed to help you kickstart healthier habits.
12. Juice Generation 3-Day Cooler Cleanse
BEST FOR BLOATING
That gross feeling of bloating is one of the most common reasons why people seek out a juice cleanse. This three-day cleanse from Juice Generation is designed to boost your body’s natural functions that eliminate bloat, brighten skin and improve overall vitality. The hydraulically-pressed juices are made with organic, natural ingredients that are as fresh as they come and come in delicious flavors like cherry melon, spicy lemonade and red roots.
Also Consider: DIY 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse
One of the healthiest (and most affordable) ways to nail a juice cleanse is by making your own smoothies at home. This book offers detailed instructions for shopping, making the smoothies and properly consuming them. The cleanse is one of the most intense at 10 days long, but because you’re using fresh ingredients, you’ll get slightly more nutrients. And with this cleanse the payoff is big, as you should lose 10-15 pounds in just 10 days. We were skeptical of this claim at first, but the book’s almost 10,000 reviews and a 4.7/5 star rating should help put you at ease. If you love smoothies and green tea, this may be the DIY juice cleanse you’ve been looking for.
Read More: The Best Smoothie Delivery Services
How to Pick a Juice Cleanse
There are now dozens of juice cleanse programs to choose from, so you’ll need to research a few before deciding. We’ve combed the web for some of the best juice cleanses, but there are still some decisions you’ll need to make before choosing.
The first choice is easy: how long do you want your juice to cleanse to be? The typical length is three days because it’s effective but not too challenging. One-day cleanses are great for beginners or anyone that just wants a quick detox, say, on a Saturday after a stressful week. Seven- and ten-day cleanses should only be used by people who’ve done a cleanse before.
You’ll also need to decide if you want ready-to-drink juices sent to your door, prefer to juice your own fruits and vegetables or powder packets that you mix with water, orange juice or nut milk. There is also the option of a completely DIY juice recipe book. Of course, if you go with the latter option, then you’ll need to invest in cold-press juicers or similar appliances.
How to Prepare for a Juice Cleanse
The last piece of the puzzle is preparing for a juice cleanse. I would not recommend diving headfirst into three days of no eating with no prep whatsoever. None of the SPY editors are doctors or medical professionals, but we do recommend talking to one before embarking on a cleanse to make sure it’s a healthy choice for you and your body.
In order to prepare for a cleanse you’re going to want to embark on a pre-cleanse to prep your body so you don’t end up with uncontrollable cravings, sickness or lethargy. You’ll probably experience some of these regardless, but to give yourself the best shot at success, especially if you’re a newbie, it’s best to cut back on certain things 2-5 days before your cleanse starts.
This list of things includes — caffeine, processed foods, animal products in general and refined sugar. You should also start eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking more water. Sound straightforward? Don’t worry, it is.
You should also be prepared to have less energy for a few days during your cleanse, since your food intake is so much lower. Working out strenuously or pulling all-nighters might not be possible, so schedule your life accordingly.
Ready to take the plunge? We’ve included the 12 best juice cleanses for weight loss (and any other health goal) in the shopping guide above.