Given the prevalence of processed foods in the typical Western diet these days, which are usually laden with an excessive amount of sugar, salt, refined grains, and industrial oils, it’s not uncommon to see people seeking a cleanse or dietary reset of sorts.
One of the more popular extreme approaches to resetting the gut and kickstarting the metabolism is to try a detox juice cleanse, or a juice cleanse diet.
But what is a juice detox? How do you do a juice cleanse and are they safe? Does a juicing detox work?
In this article, we will answer all of the basic questions about how to do a juice cleanse and if juice detoxing actually works.
We will cover:
- What Is a Juice Cleanse?
- Benefits of a Juice Detoxing
- Drawbacks of Juice Cleanses
- What Can You Eat on a Juice Detox?
- How to Do a Juice Detox
Let’s dive in!
What Is a Juice Cleanse?
A juice cleanse, also known as a juicing detox or a juice fast, is a type of fad diet cleanse where you consume exclusively vegetable and fruit juice for a short period of time.
A detox juice cleanse diet typically lasts one to three days, but some people extend the practice up to a week or even ten days, though medical guidance and supervision are recommended for juicing detox diets that last longer than three days.
Proponents of juicing fasts believe that drinking only natural fruit and vegetable juice helps support the body’s detoxification processes by “purifying and cleansing” the gut, liver, kidneys, and circulatory system.
Juice cleansing is also said to restore vitality and energy by flooding the body with a plethora of antioxidants and vital nutrients while eliminating excess sugars, refined grains, alcohol, salt, caffeine, and fat, which advocates of juicing detoxes say deplete the body of energy.
Finally, one of the primary reasons people try a juice cleanse is to lose weight quickly. By eliminating solid food from the diet—and many calorically dense foods—juice fasts are typically considered an extreme diet with severe caloric restriction.
Although many of the claims surrounding the benefits of juice fasts make sense in theory, there is little to no scientific evidence to support any degree of detoxing from juice cleanses. Moreover, most people find that any weight lost on a juice cleanse is regained once normal eating resumes.
Benefits of Juice Detoxing
Even though there is a lack of scientific evidence substantiating any detoxifying benefits of a juice cleanse diet, there can still be benefits of juicing and trying a juice cleanse, including the following:
#1: Juicing May Improve Health
A juice cleanse floods your body with nutritious organic fruits and vegetables, which is always going to be beneficial for your health.
Even if you just cold-press vegetables and fruits as part of your normal diet, you will be giving your body a plethora of antioxidants and micronutrients for optimal health.
Studies have demonstrated that subjects who follow a 3-day juice fast experience improved health and well-being, which is surmised to be due to the fact that the juicing improves the health of the gut microbiome. This, in turn, decreases inflammation, improves digestion, and supports better immunity.
#2: Higher Energy Levels
Although juice detoxes are low-calorie diets, many people report feeling increased levels of energy, likely due to the elimination of foods that can “zap” energy, such as sugar, alcohol, and meat.
#3: Better Digestion
Removing dairy, meat, gluten, and processed foods can improve digestion, and the fiber and vitamins in fruits and vegetables can support the healthy bacteria in the GI tract for better gut health.
#4: Better Hydration
Drinking juice can help hydrate the body.
Drawbacks of Juice Cleanses
The following are some potential drawbacks of juice cleanses:
- The body naturally detoxes through the liver, kidney, skin, and digestive system, and there’s no evidence to suggest that juicing facilitates that process.
- There’s a risk of low blood sugar.
- Weight loss is usually temporary until you start eating again.
- It may cause kidney stones if prolonged, particularly if you eat a lot of raw greens like kale, which are high in oxalates.
What Can You Eat On a Juice Detox?
There are no specific rules about what you have to eat on a juice cleanse or juice detox other than the fact that you should be consuming primarily raw, unpasteurized organic fruit and vegetable juices.
You can buy organic juice, or you can use your own fruits and vegetables, which is typically preferable because you can tailor the blends to your taste preferences and nutritional goals and ensure that you are eating the freshest ingredients.
Organic fruits and vegetables should be used, despite the added cost, because if you are doing whole juicing and not heating up the juice (keeping it pasteurized), you’ll be exposing your body to all of the pesticides that leach through the skin of the produce into the flesh.
Even if you thoroughly wash conventional fruits and veggies, you can still be ingesting a lot of toxic chemicals, largely defeating the purpose of the detoxing juice diet.
Some people who do juice cleanses blend the whole fruits and vegetables in a blender and drink smoothies, whereas most people use a juicer and drink just the liquid.
If you are interested in doing juice cleanses frequently, it’s probably worth it to invest in a high-quality juicer like the Nama J2 Cold Press Juicer.
The Nama juicer allows you to add all the ingredients to your homemade juice at one time. The hopper cuts and loads everything for you, and the new Nama J2 yields up to 60% more juice from leafy greens and 30% more from other produce relative to comparable traditional high-speed juicers.
Another great option is the HUROM H310 Easy Clean Slow Juicer, which is super easy to clean and extremely compact, a combination that’s virtually unheard of in the premium juicer market.
You can use any type of fruit and vegetables in your juices, but creating a variety of blends using all colors of the rainbow is ideal to provide your body with a greater range of antioxidants and phytonutrients.
Vegetables tend to be much lower in sugar and calories, so if you’re striving to maximize weight loss through juice fasting, focus more on vegetable-forward juices with smaller amounts of fruit to offset the bitterness.
Here are some examples of fruits and vegetables to juice:
- Green juice: Kale, spinach, lettuce, cucumber, fennel, wheatgrass, green grapes, Granny Smith apples, pears, celery, zucchini
- Red juice: Tomatoes, beets, grapes, cherries, strawberries, peppers, apples
- Orange juice: Carrots, oranges, clementines, yellow squash, parsnips, grapefruit
- Blue/purple juice: Beets, blueberries, blackberries
Note that some people also drink nut milks or add nuts to juice blends to add additional nutrients and to increase satiety.
Examples of nut milks that might be added to a juice cleanse include almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, or pistachio milk.
This is typically advised for 7-day juice cleanses or for those who have higher-caloric needs.
A juice cleanse diet technically eliminates any food or beverage that isn’t fresh fruit or vegetable juice, or potentially vegetable broth and nut milk, depending on how strict you are with the detox protocol.
Some people also allow herbal tea.
When you are doing a juice detox, eliminate the following from your diet:
- Animal products such as meat, dairy (cheese, milk, yogurt, kefir), eggs, poultry, fish, seafood, and honey.
- Grains such as wheat, rice, oats, rice, refined grains, bread products, cereals, etc.
- Alcohol, coffee, soda, fruit juice cocktails, milk, black tea, green tea.
- Soy products like tofu, soy milk, and tempeh.
- Legumes such as beans, peas, garbanzo beans, and lentils.
- All condiments, sauces, sweeteners, nut butters, seeds, and processed foods of any kind.
How to Do a Juice Detox
A juice cleanse diet normally lasts between one and three days, but there are often a few days of preparation leading up to the cleanse and a transition out of the cleanse back to solid foods.
In the pre-cleanse state, you prepare the body by slowly eliminating the major dietary triggers and inflammatory foods like meat, dairy, sugar, caffeine, gluten, alcohol, fast food, fried foods, nicotine, and refined and processed foods.
Although you don’t have to preemptively remove these foods from the diet before the cleanse, it’s a great way to prepare the body and the mind for what’s to come during the cleanse and reduce cravings, headaches, and physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms you might experience during the juicing detox.
Another important step in preparing for the cleanse diet is to buy all the fruits and vegetables you will need (organic is strongly recommended).
Start upping your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables during the three days before the official start of your juice detox, and drink plenty of water.
There are no specific rules or guidelines about what you have to juice and how much you have to drink on a juice detox. As mentioned, some drink only the juice of fresh fruit and vegetable juices blended together, while others do whole juicing, which includes the pulp.
After the juice detox is over, eat lightly, particularly the first 24-48 hours once the detox is over, to help gradually transition back to regular eating without fully shocking the system.
Gradually re-introduce foods back into your diet over the course of several days, starting with gentle foods like bone broth, lean protein like fish, and simple whole grains like oats and quinoa. Check out some of the suggested ideas for the best foods to break a fast here.
As your digestive system starts to tolerate solid foods with ease, reintroduce other foods into your diet but consider if you want to continue avoiding certain inflammatory foods or foods that trigger cravings, such as refined grains, sweets, alcohol, sugar in general, and fatty foods.
If you are looking for an even more extreme fast, check out our guides on water fasts: