As summer approaches, millions of people around the world are trying to get into better shape. People want to fit into bathing suits and look good wearing less in the hot summer months. Although there are thousands of diets out there, juice cleanses have been gaining traction. Proponents of the juice cleanse craze boast amazing results, but are these claims reliable?

What is a juice cleanse?

During a cleanse, a person drinks a diet that is made exclusively of juices and avoids all solid food. The juices are fruit and vegetable blends, and the cleanse only lasts for a few days. These cleanses claim to cause weight loss, detoxify the body, and jumpstart healthy lifestyles.

Will it help with weight loss?

Juice cleanses cause rapid weight loss for two simple reasons. First, people who eat less tend to lose weight. Second, people who drink lots of liquids often shed pounds of water weight. Unfortunately, both of the factors that cause weight loss from juice cleanses are temporary. As soon as the cleanse is over, there is a risk of gaining weight again. To keep the weight off, one must eat right and exercise.

Is it healthy?

A juice cleanse has elements that are both healthy and unhealthy. Natural fruit or vegetable juice has a certain level of vitamins and minerals, and it obviously does not hurt the body to get plenty of nutrients. Cleanses help recharge and detoxify the body because it can go without processing so much waste that comes with a regular diet for a few days.

Although there are many health benefits a cleanse, there is also one major health risk. Despite being chock full of nutrients, a person cannot consume enough juice in one day to account for the body’s caloric needs. Juice cleanses help many people lose weight because juice provides hundreds of fewer calories than a solid food diet would. When a person consumes fewer calories, the person has less energy. To preserve what little caloric energy juice does provide, it is wise to avoid vigorous physical activity or a hectic schedule for the duration of the juice cleanse.

A juice cleanse is neither a balanced nor sustainable diet. The body needs a variety of foods on a daily basis. During a juice cleanse, the body lacks carbs, fat, and protein. A healthy person could go without for a few days, but it could be dangerous for others. For example, a diabetic could go into fatal hypoglycemic shock because of the drastically reduced caloric intake that comes from a juice diet. Although juice has lots of nutrients, it also has lots of sugar from fruit. Natural sugar is still sugar. It can cause cavities, become addictive, and cause fat gain.

Cleanses are supposed to help with weight loss, but there is a risk of gaining weight. The body is used to getting food and sufficient calories each day. When it is starved of calories, the body goes into self-preservation mode. Specifically, the metabolism gets slower and the body works hard to store fat. This is exactly why a juice cleanse should never last longer than five days.

During a juice cleanse, you might feel bad, mentally and physically. Many people experience severe headaches because their bodies are going through withdrawal from addictive substances, like caffeine and processed sugar. Without food, people often become moody and irritable.

Commercial cleanses

Categorically, most doctors who have commented on the subject are not fans of juice cleanses. Experts suggest that people choose a carefully researched commercial cleanse program rather than embark on the process alone. Respectable programs that market juice cleanses understand that there is a liability for people who become sick on their cleanse. Hence, commercial juices usually have research behind them and contain sufficient nutrients. Jus by Julie, Senzu Juicery, and Raw Generation are some of the most popular companies that sell juice for cleanses.

Making it work

A juice cleanse is not something to do on a whim. Regardless of how motivated a person is, the act of only drinking juice for several days is difficult. In order to stay healthy throughout the process, much preparation is necessary. Think practically about the food eaten before and after the cleanse.

Resist the temptation to overeat before the cleanse starts. That will only work against health goals, and it won’t make sticking to the cleanse any easier. Before the cleanse starts, stick to a healthy balanced diet consisting of natural, whole foods. By eating gradually less solid food in the days before the cleanse, cravings for solid food will be reduced and the detoxifying effects will be maximized.  Although avoiding solid food for days can make one very hungry, be reasonable about the first few post-cleanse meals. Stomach discomfort can happen if a heavy meal is eaten too soon.

If you choose to not use store-bought juices, think carefully about how the juices will be made and stored. Do not underestimate the volume of fruits and vegetables necessary to make one glass of juice, and remember that natural foods spoil quickly.

Should you do a juice cleanse?

There is no substitute for eating a balanced diet on a daily basis. Although a doctor probably would not recommend a juice cleanse, one that only lasts a few days is unlikely to harm a healthy person. If a person is dedicated to making lifestyle changes, a juice cleanse can be a catalyst for change. If nothing else, it can serve as a way to cleanse the palate of unhealthy foods.