Health! It’s important. And you know that healthy nutrition is paramount for a healthy body and mind. You have done your research and read that “you are what you eat”. And you learned about the best way to make a healthy lifestyle change: You’ve decided to go on a juice cleanse. Well, you’ve come to the right place! Everyone’s reason to switch to a juice-based detox are slightly different. Perhaps you want to start introducing more fruits and vegetables into your daily routine. After months - or a lifetime - of unclean eating, sluggish days, and a dysfunctional digestive system, you want to start with a clean slate - and change your diet. With so many juice choices out there on the internet right now, it’s difficult to tell the good from the bad or the ugly. To make it easier for you, here are some facts to keep in mind before committing to a homemade or professionally designed juice plan:
Juice Cleanses: Before You Start
Juicing can be a healthy and detoxifying can be a great addition to your diet. However, simply put, a juice cleanse is not for everyone. Please keep any pre-existing conditions in mind that may be aggravated by doing even a 2 - 3 day cleanse. For underweight individuals, a liquid diet with a calorie deficit can be dangerous, especially for those who don’t have enough fat stores to tap into while cleansing. Juices are best consumed raw and unpasteurized, and this can be dangerous to individuals with a weakened or compromised immune system. Anyone taking prescription medication, or those with health concerns such as low or high blood pressure, diabetes, or even acid reflux (to name a few medical conditions) are recommended to consult with their doctor before taking on any cleanses.
Juice Cleanse Benefits: Fiber is Your Friend
Many juices are cold-pressed, which is better than destroying nutrients with heat, but juicing unfortunately removes any insoluble fiber that you would consume by eating whole produce, with the claim that soluble fiber is all you need to deliver the nutritional benefits of fruits and veggies without the bulk. However, both soluble and insoluble fiber are an integral part of your digestive system, and each carry a role in the detoxing your body.
- Soluble fiber is indigestible, but dissolvable in water, creating a gel-like substance that slows digestion and collects nutrients from your food, allowing your body to absorb them at a controlled rate and regulate its blood sugars.
- Insoluble fiber is also indigestible, but does not dissolve into a gel, acting as a bulking agent for your digestive track. While lowering your intake of insoluble fiber can give your digestive system a rest while lowering your chance of bloating, gas, or intestinal distress, small amounts of fiber can also act as a detoxing tool, removing toxic substances from your colon.
Juice Cleanse Advice: Less Fruit is More
Juicing isn’t the cure-all for every diet plan. While juices are a healthier alternative to sodas and other sugary drinks, many fruits contain a high amount of fructose which translates into sugar in the body. If you’re trying to detox from a sweet tooth, and especially if you’re trying to slim down, drinking a glass of pure fruit juice may contain beneficial vitamins for your daily nutrition and immune system, but it carries a TON of sugar along with it. That’ll make it difficult to curb your sweet cravings, lose fat, and will shoot your insulin levels through the roof. Opt for at least 80% vegetables and 20% fruit, preferably choose fruits that are lower on the glycemic index.
Juice Cleanse Preparation
Perhaps spring, summer, fall or winter (any season is a good time to start a healthy lifestyle change) snuck up on you faster than you can say “snacktime”, or you’ve thrown caution to the wind and hibernated among a smorgasbord of pies, cakes, meats, and more over the holidays? Whatever your reason for wanting to hit that reset button, before committing to a 3 - 21 day juice cleanse, prepare ahead of time to ensure a successful transition to an exclusively liquid diet.
1. Pre-Cleanse: If your diet has been heavy on processed foods, start transitioning to a cleaner diet a few days to two weeks before starting your journey. Begin by introducing fresh, organic produce to every meal. Next, cut out problem foods and drinks such as cookies, soda, processed meats, carb-heavy dishes, and sadly, caffeinated drinks such as tea or coffee.
2. Transition: Start introducing juices in replacement of snacks - or start with one meal a day - as well as upping your hydration by drinking additional water. This will start preparing you for a liquid diet, will fight false hunger signals, and lower your chances of wanting to throw your juice jug out the window by day two.
3. Plan: Boredom is a snacker’s worst enemy. Eliminate temptation to mindlessly munch by removing triggering foods from your pantry, and either A. tossing them in the trash, or B. giving them to a friend to consume or hold on to while you’re detoxing. Hopefully you won’t need them back! You would also be surprised at how much time of your day is taken up by eating. Plan activities for those troublesome down periods in your day, by either catching up on your social life, or finally getting around to that hobby you’ve always wanted to try but have had little time to practice.
Juice Cleanse Pros and Cons
So you’ve mentally, spiritually, and physically prepared for your juice cleanse. Depending on how clean your diet and how high your activity level was before you started, your experience on a juice detox will either be a small shock or a BIG shock to your system. Whether you’ve never cleansed before, or are well acquainted with juice-fasting, the detoxification process is no walk in the park. Here are some troubleshooting tips for making your process as easy as possible:
“I Want to Murder Everyone!”
The first couple of days into your cleanse are the roughest. We are so accustomed to eating solid (and delicious) foods, as well as getting through our day with a consistent drip of caffeinated drinks. Taking that away suddenly is like stealing a rattle from a baby. You will likely feel sluggish, headachy, and the appropriately termed, HANGRY. During this adjustment period, it is important to plan ahead and remove as many stressors from your life as you can. Start on a weekend when you have no prior engagements, practice meditation. At least refrain from starting during a stressful work week. Trust us, your cubicle neighbors will thank you.
“Juice Equals Hydration...Right?”
Wrong. Yes, you may be embarking on a liquid diet for the period of your cleanse, but that does not mean your bottle of water shouldn’t be within arms-reach at all times. While your juices can be hydrating, it’s best not to assume that you’re getting an adequate amount of water. The best way to tell? If your urine is clear, you’re in the clear. If it’s more yellow in color, that means that you’re not getting an optimal amount of liquids and need to up your water intake. While you’re receiving a plethora of vitamins and minerals through your veggie juices, plain ol’ water will add that extra push to flush out any leftover toxins you’re trying to get rid of through your cleanse. As an added bonus, hydrating with water between juices will help with initial hunger pangs.
“But...What About My Gains?!”
You’ve taken the leap into a juice detox, and perhaps you’ve already noticed your waistline shrinking. You want to step up your game by hitting the gym as hard as you already have, or harder than usual to maximize results. Unfortunately, the fantasy of being able to juice kale on your washboard abs will be met with the reality of passing out face-first into the weight rack. With the calorie restriction that juicing brings, your body is already tapping into fat stores to make up for the energy it usually needs to function. Push that further, and you’ll find yourself in a weak, dizzy, and nauseous workout session. You will risk lowering your metabolic rate, break down your muscle tissue, and possibly risk injury. Play it safe with yoga, gentle pilates, or very low-impact cardio at first, at least until you can determine how much activity your body can handle during detox. This is the time when listening to your body is essential, and “playing through the pain” can be downright dangerous.
Juice Cleanse Results
So you’ve made it! Whether a 2, 3, or even 21-day juice detox, you’ve certainly earned a pat on the back. But before you go tearing into those "Double-Stuf" Oreos you’ve stashed away (you know, just in case), try to brave through the rebound binge effect by slowly introducing healthy food solids back into your diet. Start with fruits and vegetables, salads, nuts, and lean protein. If your cleanse has left you feeling energized, reset, and fabulous, let your experience be your guide by continuing a clean diet and a healthier lifestyle. You may find yourself craving it, after all. Remember, it can take at least two months to form a new habit, and you’ve already gotten through the toughest part!