There's a lot of confusion about juice cleanses, as juice shops are popping up on every corner, mixing concoctions that claim to target everything from your mental acuity to your immune system. But what few people understand is that a diet composed only of juice, even for a few days, actually does more harm than good. So here you have it, the most common myths surrounding juice cleanses, and some truths to clear up the confusion behind those cute labels.
Myth: Juice cleanses make you lose weight!
Fact: Juice cleanses cause weight gain. Remember, the scale temporarily going down does not mean that it won't jump back up! When you go on a juice cleanse, you put less calories into your body than it takes to merely survive. Did you know that the average woman needs 1500 calories just to function for one day? When a body gets less calories than it requires to live, it starts to think it's going to die, which leads to increased adrenaline and cortisol, also known as going into "fight or flight" mode. So that feeling of lightness and mental clarity is more likely brought to you by an excess of adrenaline than a cup of beet juice. Similar to the runner's high, this state could easily be called the starver's high. And any weight that you lose in starvation mode you will very quickly put back on (and then some) as soon as the "cleanse" is over.
Myth: I feel great when I'm juicing! It must be working for me.
Fact: Ask most people who claim to feel better on a juice cleanse what they were eating before the cleanse started. Protein bars? Tofu? Oatmeal? Candy? Most people who claim to feel better on a juice cleanse are really reacting to the lack of gluten, sugar, soy, dairy and other gut-irritating foods they usually eat. Or they are catching a buzz off of the short-lived starver's high.
Myth: Juice cleanses help you detox!
Fact: Amino acids, such as glutamine, glycine, taurine, etc. (also known as the building blocks of protein) are absolutely vital in the detoxification process within the body. Without ample supplies of these amino acids, your body cannot complete the detoxification/elimination process effectively. We store our toxins in body fat. Anyone looking to lose body fat should want a highly efficient detoxification process. On a juice cleanse, because you aren't getting enough calories, you start to mobilize some body fat, re-introducing stored toxins into your system. But with only fruit and vegetable juice coming in, you lack the proper nutrients to eliminate these toxins, which puts the body under even more stress.
If you're really interested in detoxing, only eat organic foods, cut grains out of your diet, limit your exposure to plastic containers, switch out your toxic home products to green ones, limit your alcohol consumption, increase your saturated fat intake (via healthy animal fat or coconut oil, for example) and exercise to get things moving.
Myth: Of course my cleanse is healthy, it's only fruit and vegetable juice!
Fact: Most of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables are in the skin and pulp, which is discarded in most juices. Juice is a more sugary, less nutritious version of the real thing. Did you know that fresh apple juice has four times more sugar than one apple?
So when and how can you incorporate juices into your diet?
Use a VitaMix and juice greens: VitaMix is a high quality juicer that does not remove the fiber from fruits and vegetables. I also suggest making your juices mostly vegetables (and adding some lemon, ginger and herbs such as parsley) to keep the glycemic index down. If you must add fruit, try a green apple, which is relatively low in sugar.
Add fat and/or bone broth: I like to add coconut oil (or have Plant Cafe add it for me!) or bone broth to my fresh vegetable juices, making them more of a balanced snack than a carb bomb.
Have a juice after eating protein and fat: Say you had a nice grass-fed steak with some avocado and still felt hungry. Perfect time for a vegetable juice.
Final tip: Chew your liquid and drink your food. If you drink a juice, make sure you take the time to swoosh it around in your mouth rather than gulping it down. Because the digestive process starts in the mouth, this little trick will ensure that you prepare your body to effectively metabolize the juice.