Juice Cleansing Diet Guide: 5 Benefits, Risks + A Handy Food List

We assess detox and revitalization claims.

Juice cleanses for weight loss or “detoxification” are extremely popular, especially because people are often looking for a quick fix for weight loss.

Moreover, it seems like there is always some celebrity promoting a juicing cleanse diet program that is the “secret” to their success in keeping a slim physique or losing weight fast.

But, is juice cleansing good for weight loss? Is it safe? Keep reading to find out!

Let’s jump in!

A person holding a bottle of juice on the beach.

What Is a Juice Cleansing Diet?

There isn’t one specific juice cleansing diet or juice fast.

Rather, there are a myriad of commercial weight loss juice cleanses or juice detox diet cleanses that you can purchase online, or you might follow your own homemade, DIY juice cleansing diet plan at home.

Both commercial and DIY weight loss juice cleanses are extremely popular as a rapid approach to kickstart weight loss, drop weight quickly before an event, or “cleanse the body“ without necessarily having weight loss as a major motivating factor.

Due to the relatively nebulous term “juicing cleanses” or “juice cleanse weight loss diets,” there isn’t one specific juice cleanse protocol.

However, any type of juicing detox or a juice fast is essentially a type of fad diet cleanse where you consume only vegetable and fruit juice for a specific period of time. 

Most juice cleansing diets are done to induce rapid weight loss and rid the body of “toxins” by only drinking one or more types of juice.

A juice detox diet or juicing cleanse program may last anywhere from 24 hours to 7 days or so.

Generally, the primary purpose of a juice cleansing diet is for rapid weight loss.

However, some proponents of juice fasting believe that drinking juice with only natural fruits and vegetables helps support the body’s detoxification processes by “purifying and cleansing” the digestive system, liver, kidneys, and circulatory system. 

Other juice diet cleanse proponents suggest that drinking only juice can “restore energy“ by inundating your body with antioxidants and vital nutrients from fresh juices.

Bottles of juice.

What Can You Eat On a Juice Cleanse Diet Plan?

There are no universal rules about how to follow a juice cleansing diet plan, but here are some general guidelines:  

You should primarily consume raw, unpasteurized organic fruit and vegetable juices, with or without adding herbs and spices such as ginger, turmeric, black pepper, cayenne, basil, parsley, and fennel seeds. 

You can buy a commercial juice detox diet plan or make your own fresh juices using organic fruits and vegetables.

Remember that you should use organic because conventional produce contains pesticides, which are bad for your body, and the entire motivation behind juice cleansing is generally to give the body a break from various toxins.1US EPA. (2015, August 11). Human Health Issues Related to Pesticides | US EPA. US EPA. https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-science-and-assessing-pesticide-risks/human-health-issues-related-pesticides

‌Use a high-quality juicer such as the Nama J2 Cold Press Juicer, the Vitamix A3500 Gourmet SmartPrep Kitchen System, or HUROM the H310 Easy Clean Slow Juicer.

These home juicers allow you to juice the entire fruit or vegetable so that you get all of the fiber-rich peel and pulp along with the juice.

The fiber2Kieffer, D. A., Martin, R. J., & Adams, S. H. (2016). Impact of Dietary Fibers on Nutrient Management and Detoxification Organs: Gut, Liver, and Kidneys. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal7(6), 1111–1121. https://doi.org/10.3945/an.116.013219 is ideal in a juice cleaning program because it bulks up stool,3Gill, S. K., Rossi, M., Bajka, B., & Whelan, K. (2021). Dietary fibre in gastrointestinal health and disease. Nature Reviews. Gastroenterology & Hepatology18(2), 101–116. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41575-020-00375-4 feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut4Makki, K., Deehan, E. C., Walter, J., & Bäckhed, F. (2018). The Impact of Dietary Fiber on Gut Microbiota in Host Health and Disease. Cell Host & Microbe23(6), 705–715. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2018.05.012 and promotes bowel regularity to reduce the risk of constipation.5Abdullah, M. M. H., Gyles, C. L., Marinangeli, C. P. F., Carlberg, J. G., & Jones, P. J. H. (2015). Dietary fibre intakes and reduction in functional constipation rates among Canadian adults: a cost-of-illness analysis. Food & Nutrition Research59(1), 28646. https://doi.org/10.3402/fnr.v59.28646

A box of juices.

Fiber can also increase satiety and help you stay fuller for longer, potentially helping you consume fewer calories.6Clark, M. J., & Slavin, J. L. (2013). The Effect of Fiber on Satiety and Food Intake: A Systematic Review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition32(3), 200–211. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2013.791194

‌Indeed, eating enough fiber has been shown to be associated with a lower risk of obesity and may help support a lower body weight.7OUP accepted manuscript. (2019). The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqz292

‌Finally, fiber is the only nutrient that has really been shown to possibly aid the natural detoxification systems of the body by helping expedite waste excretion and digestion through feces and liver processing of toxins.

‌You can use different blends of fresh fruits and vegetables in a juice cleansing diet, but generally, using fruits and vegetables from all colors of the rainbow is the best way to provide your body with a wider range of antioxidants and phytonutrients.

Here are some examples of fruits and vegetables to add to weight-loss juices:

Juice Cleanse Ingredient List

  • Green juice: Kale, spinach, beet greens, lettuce, cucumber, fennel, wheatgrass, green grapes, watercress, Granny Smith apples, pears, celery, zucchini, honeydew, kiwi, mint, cilantro, basil, parsley
  • Red juice: Tomatoes, beets, raspberries, grapes, cherries, strawberries, peppers, apples, pomegranate
  • Orange juice: Carrots, oranges, clementines, yellow squash, parsnips, grapefruit, turmeric 
  • Blue/purple juice: Beets, blueberries, blackberries, acai berries
  • Yellow juice: Lemons, yellow summer squash, cantaloupe, yellow peppers, parsnips, ginger, turmeric 

You can also drink water, herbal tea, and whatever other foods or ingredients are allowed on whatever specific juice cleansing protocol you follow.

A green smoothie.

Here are the foods to avoid on a juice cleanse:

  • Animal products: meat, dairy (cheese, milk, yogurt, kefir), eggs, poultry, fish, seafood, and honey.
  • Sweets and added sugar.
  • Grains: wheat, rice, oats, rice, refined grains, bread products, cereals, etc.
  • Alcohol, coffee, soda, fruit juice cocktails, milk, black tea, green tea.
  • Dairy products: milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream. etc.
  • Soy products: tofu, soy milk, tempeh etc.
  • Legumes: beans, peas, garbanzo beans, lentils, etc.
  • Nuts and seeds.
  • All condiments, sauces, sweeteners, nut butters, seeds, and processed foods.

Does A Juice Cleansing Diet Work for Weight Loss and Health?

There is a lack of research using rigorous scientific protocols that indeed demonstrate any significant detoxifying benefits of a juice cleansing diet.

That said, there may be some benefits of trying a short term juice cleanse program, such as the following:

A person blending juice.

#1: Supporting the Gut Microbiome

Studies have demonstrated that subjects who follow a 3-day juice fast experience improved health and well-being, which is theorized to be due to the fact that the juicing improves the health of the gut microbiome.

Because the bacteria in the gut play a key role in numerous functions such as digestion, immunity, and regulating the inflammatory response, juice cleansing diet benefits may come by way of nourishing the gut bacteria. 

#2: Providing Antioxidants

Fresh veggies, fruits, and herbs used in most juice cleanse recipes are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients.

These are potent plant compounds that can help protect the body against oxidative damage from free radicals.

#3: Boosting Energy

While you might feel lethargic and hungry on a juice cleanse if you are not having enough calories, some people feel “invigorated“ and experience a rush of energy as a benefit of juice cleansing.

This probably has less to do with the juices themselves but rather because you are not eating ultra processed foods that can “zap” energy, such as sugar, alcohol, and meat.8Eating to Boost Energy. (n.d.). Www.eatright.org. https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/healthful-habits/eating-to-boost-energy

A person blending juice.

‌#4: Supporting Digestion

When you are on a liquid diet, the digestive system doesn’t have to do as much to break down your food.

Furthermore, a juice detox plan doesn’t contain any dairy, meat, gluten, or other processed foods, and you are getting fiber, vitamins, and minerals, particularly if you are having cold pressed juices or whole vegetable and whole fruit juices including the pulp.

These factors can improve digestion and support the healthy bacteria in the GI tract for better gut health and bowel regularity.9Rocha, B. S., & Laranjinha, J. (2020). Nitrate from diet might fuel gut microbiota metabolism: Minding the gap between redox signaling and inter-kingdom communication. Free Radical Biology and Medicine149, 37–43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2020.02.001

‌#5: Providing a Mental Reset

Trying a very short-term juice cleansing diet can be a good mental reset for your nutrition and health practices. It can serve as a “recommitment“ to making healthier choices moving forward.

A person holding a green juice.

Are There Any Health Risks Associated With A Juice Cleansing Diet?

While there are some potential juice cleansing diet benefits, there are also various risks and side effects of liquid diets and juice diet plans:

Overall, although many of the claims surrounding the health benefits of juice detoxing may make sense in theory, there is little to no scientific evidence to support any degree of detoxing from juice cleanses

The only real detoxing benefits you might get from a juice cleansing diet come from not really what you are putting into your body but what you are not putting into your body.

Because a juice cleansing diet usually only includes natural vegetable and fruit juices, you will eliminate excess sugars, refined grains, alcohol, salt, caffeine, and fat, which can potentially cause various physical and emotional issues in regard to weight loss and health.

Remember that juice cleanses, especially longer than one day, are neither safe nor recommended.

If you are looking for a new healthy way of eating and balanced diet that will fit your lifestlye and nutritional needs, meet with a registered dietitian or nutritionist to guide you toward what’s the best choice for you.

A nutritionist.

References

Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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