A majorly hot topic these days is the concept of juice cleansing and juicing in general. Many people believe, thanks to the internet and the Joe Cross documentaries, that a juice cleanse is the ultimate to kick start a weight loss program, but I strongly believe that your physical and mental health should be in optimum tip-top shape before even considering a full on cleanse. They are not for the faint of heart.
Juicing is taking the entire fruit or vegetable and extracting only the vitamins and minerals aka the liquid. Unlike a smoothie, which simply blends up entire produce for easier digestion, juicing has no pulp or fibre and will not easily replace a meal in your day. However, unlike a smoothie, juicing is a great way to take in a high level of nutrients and minerals in one shot. Most people are not going to be able to consume the same amount of whole produce that they can through juicing. By most people, I mean most likely no one.
The thought process behind a juice cleanse is that your digestive system and body can be given a rest and a ‘reset’. It’s also giving your body some much needed quick shot nutrients which is thought to speed up the process in reaching your health goals – whether they be weight loss, mental clarity, sluggish digestion or just getting rid of a ‘blah’ feeling after treating too much. Juice cleansing were intended to be a mind AND body connection experience, but here in the western world we have taken it and turned it into a kickstart for weight loss.
It’s true our bodies are designed to naturally cleanse and detox themselves, however the foods are eating are often not actual food and we have developed foods and food like products at a quicker pace than our body’s can keep up with, and all of the highly processed foods, sauces, snacks, drinks, ingredients (I’m looking at you, sugar) can bog down and overload our digestive systems and hinder our body’s natural ability to detox and cleanse. Also? If what we are eating isn’t passing through us at all (because of a lack of water, lack of fibre, constipation, sluggish digestion), then it’s not detoxing or cleansing anyways. Fibre is really the kicker when it comes to detoxing and cleansing your body. Detoxing or cleansing means getting rid of things, and that requires fibre and water. Fibre+water=nice, healthy #2’s which is the main way our body detoxifies.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of juicing. We do it regularly in our home, but I’ve always taken an “in addition to” approach, and we add mainly green juices into our regular routines. I also tend to do it more so in the winter when I find I eat heavier foods, produce is harder to find and often not as delicious tasting as summertime fruits and veggies. But something I have learned both from personal experience as well as helping others, using a juice “cleanse” is not always going to benefit everyone the same. In fact, I have done exactly one and I did it more as a Juice Feast which consisted of 4-6 litres of juice a day, plus I did a salad for supper most days. For myself, the benefits did not outweigh the supposed pros. Because juice has minimal fibre, protein or pulp left in it if you are someone who has been eating a less than ideal diet, you are better off sticking to a whole, mainly plant-foods diet to really get your body into optimum health to kickstart any health or weight loss goals.
While I generally don’t write directly for weight loss, it’s also hard to overlook the weight loss topic when it comes to many trends in diet and nutrition. So listen, here’s the thing.. you are absolutely going to lose weight if you go on a juice cleanse. It would b e near impossible to not eat solid foods and not lose weight. But that weight loss is most likely going to be related to the lack of solid food in your body, lack of carbohydrates and not because you magically lost 5 pounds of fat in a week. And…drum roll…once you begin consuming you solid food again you will more than likely gain back most or all of the weight. And as a real kicker, if you are someone who feels deprived while on a juice cleanse or any kind of elimination diet, there is a high chance you will also gain back more weight.
Often when we are not in the best shape physically or mentally any sort of drastic change to our diet or lifestyle that is not sustainable long-term (think elimination diets, cleanses, strict diets), the second we are “allowed” something again we binge, even if binging is not our general attitude towards food. So a juice cleanse may be done as a means of kick-starting a healthy eating lifestyle and weight loss regimen, but instead leads to either long-term or short-term binging and consumption of foods we would not normally eat as our body’s struggle to regain the energy (and calories) it was deprived of.
So my bottom line when it comes to juicing and juice cleanses? Avoid a full-on, 100% juice cleanse. Instead try a plant-based cleanse with daily juices. Focusing on eliminating things which slow digestion: meat, dairy, highly processed foods and refined sugar.