Fact or Fiction: The Juice Cleanse

Background:

Every day/month/year brings new nutrition fads—the no carb diet, all carb diet, avoid white foods, only eat superfoods, don’t eat any food! Okay, maybe a couple of those examples were extreme, but you catch my drift. It can be hard to sift out which nutrition tips are beneficial versus merely being the flavor of the month. However, there has been one trend that repeatedly shows its face—the cleanse.

There are several different types of cleanses out there, but today we’re merely focusing on the juice cleanse. Whereas some juice cleanses include various supplements, most only include raw fruits and veggies. The premise behind the juice cleanse is that it will help you shed unwanted pounds and bloat and rejuvenate and rehydrate your cells as a “clean start.” Most juice cleanses last anywhere from 1-5 days.

My Cleanse:

Slightly skeptical, I decided to try a 2-day juice cleanse only made from raw fruits. My cleanse consisted of two one-gallon jugs containing only distilled water, grapefruit juice, orange juice, and lemon juice. Each day you are instructed to drink one of the one-gallon jugs, consuming about 6-8 ounces each hour for best results.

I was nervous at first that I would get pretty hungry throughout the day and miss my cup of coffee to keep me powering through, but neither of those feelings happened. If I started to feel a little hungry, I drank another cup and I was good to go! Also, my energy levels never dropped—I felt great throughout the entire two days. One gallon of liquid might not sound like a lot, but both nights I was left with about 1/3 of a gallon to finish before going to bed.

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Did it Actually Work?

To determine if the cleanse truly worked, let’s break down what they claim the cleanse will achieve and see if there are any holes in the process:

  1. You will lose weight. I admit that after the two days of cleansing, I did feel lighter and less bloated from before. However, after diving into the nutrition behind the cleanse, I noticed that each one-gallon jug contained about 1200 calories. On an average day, I consume anywhere from 2500-4000 calories depending on my work out and activity level that day. If I cut back my daily caloric intake by 50-70% it’s guaranteed that I will lose weight, regardless of if it’s through cleansing or portion control when eating.
  2. You will feel energized. As I said before, I felt energized and awake all day, even without my morning coffee. Unfortunately, when checking the nutrition label on the jug again, I saw that each one-gallon jug contained 160 grams of sugar for one day! Now, I know what you may be thinking—if it’s sugar from fruit, it’s not the same as sugar from a Snickers! You’re somewhat right, but not completely. Yes, the natural fructose and sugar from fruit is better than nutrient-void table sugar or high fructose corn syrup, but in your bloodstream, it is still sugar. Sugar in our bloodstream does two things: it is burned to provide energy, but when there is too much, it is then converted and stored in our bodies as fat cells. The problem with sugar from fruit juice as opposed to a normal piece of fruit is that the sugar in juice goes directly into your blood stream causing a quick spike (and possible crash) in your blood sugar and energy. When you eat a piece of fruit, it takes your body more time to break down the fruit to extract the sugar, therefore not spiking your blood sugar as much. Also, when eating whole fruit as opposed to fruit juice, you receive extra benefits, such as fiber, that help aid in digestion. So, yes, I did feel energized throughout the cleanse, but probably only due to a sustained increase in blood sugar levels throughout the 2 days.
  3. You will cleanse and rehydrate your cells. Since my observations were not on a cellular level, I cannot say whether my cells were or were not cleansed and rehydrated. However, grapefruit and lemon have anti-inflammatory properties and can aid in digestion and metabolism. So, it’s not farfetched to assume that consuming such fruits can increase metabolism and weight loss.

The Bottom Line

In my opinion, the 2-day juice cleanse did achieve everything it promised. However, it might not have been achieved in the healthiest of ways. While I did lose weight, and felt energized throughout the day, I think the same could have been achieved by eating the same number of calories in a healthy, whole food based diet. By eating 1200 calories of lean protein and vegetables, as opposed to 1200 calories of fruit juice, not only am I decreasing my caloric intake, but I am also receiving the nutritional benefits and fiber intake of whole foods without the high intake of sugar.

I understand that sometimes you need a quick fix to work off a rough weekend or prepare to squeeze into a suit or dress, but there are healthier ways of achieving this than a quick juice cleanse. The best way to increase your health through nutrition is by maintaining a balanced, nutrient-rich diet including all food groups in moderation.

At Excel Chiropractic, we focus on helping our patients in multiple areas of their life, be it through chiropractic adjustments, physical activity, or nutrition. I hope this article helps you with your own journey to health and proper nutrition!

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