The Truth About Juice 'Cleanses'
A juice cleanse is generally marketed as a detox diet where liquefied fruit and vegetables are consumed for a short period of time. These often come with claims of weight loss, detoxing the body, supercharging your energy levels and boosting your immunity.
So what is the problem?
Along with there being no scientific evidence to show that following a juice diet can significantly benefit our health, they could in fact be harmful. Although consuming fruit and vegetables in the form of a juice is not bad per se as they do contain antioxidant nutrients and folate (1) and can increase a person’s intake, a diet made up exclusively of juice is deficient in protein, healthy fats, vitamin B12, and fibre.
When juiced, fruit and vegetables lose the majority of their fibre meaning the sugar content is absorbed into the blood quickly increasing the risk of hunger, mood swings and cravings (2) all of which are undesirable consequences.
Juice diets also lack protein which is required for maintenance of muscle mass as well as to support the body with growth and repair as well as hormone production. Consuming too little protein can also result in anaemia, physical weakness, oedema and impaired immunity (3). Protein and fibre also help keep us feeling full.
Claims that a juice cleanse can detoxify the body are not accurate. Detoxification is a process that is carried out in a highly sophisticated way by our liver, kidneys, lungs and colon to remove toxins such as ammonia, waste products, drugs and alcohol. There is no scientific evidence to suggest diet can aid these processes (4).
A further unpleasant side effect of juicing can be diarrhoea; juice enthusiasts often suggest this is a sign your body is ridding itself of toxic substances but this is not the case, it is because of the high fructose content of juice. This can lead to poor water absorption, risking electrolyte imbalance headaches and fatigue.
Juice diets and weight loss
Juice diets provide a very low calorie content compared to what our bodies require so you will lose weight when following such a detox as you are in a significant calorie deficit. You will lose fat mass but you will also lose water mass too. When you follow a low-carbohydrate diet such as a juice diet, your body drops water weight. Water is generally used to store carbohydrate in the body in the form of glycogen; when our carbohydrate intake drops, our glycogen stores deplete, meaning water is no longer needed to store it, resulting in a water weight loss. Due to the major calorie restriction juice diets are often only sustainable short-term, but should not be followed for a prolonged period of time due to the insufficient nutrient provision they offer. Inevitably the dieter quickly goes back to their usual pattern of eating within a short space of time, meaning any weight loss will be temporary.
Another concept to be aware of when considering a long-term significant calorie restriction is that the body can start to reserve its energy, lowering metabolism and slowing down weight loss, sometimes known as “starvation mode” so weight losses may not be as great as you may expect over time.
Consequences of yo-yo dieting
Getting stuck in a cycle of yo-yo dieting is a very common situation for those who opt to follow an unsustainable diet such as a juice or cleanse programme. Although initial results may seem promising, these are often not sustained and returning to previous habits quickly result in a weight regain. At this point, many people want to follow another plan to give quick results, but again, following an unsustainable plan will often result in a further weight gain leading to a yo-yo diet or weight cycle. With repeated bouts of dieting there is the potential for this to repeatedly happen and people can end up at a higher weight than when they started their first diet (5,6). This can also have a significant impact on somebody’s mental health.
How to safely lose weight and keep it off
Losing weight at a realistic pace for you is a good way to reach a healthy weight and to maintain this long-term. It is recommended that to lose on average 1 lb per week, you need to create a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day. General advice recommends to eat three regular balanced meals, exercise portion control, and substitute high-calorie food for healthier, lower-calorie alternatives. Exercise can further help to aid weight loss and keep you healthy, helping you to reach your goals. If you have any health conditions or take medication, you should seek advice from a registered dietitian, nutritionist or your GP before embarking on any weight loss intervention.
How do EXALT high-protein smoothies differ from juice cleanses?
A high-protein EXALT smoothie is calorie controlled and could be used in place of one of your daily meals. EXALT smoothies are designed to be consumed as part of a healthy diet. One high protein smoothie provides all 9 essential amino acids, as well as a range of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and all three macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats). Its three-phase release of the protein can help to keep you feeling fuller for longer with a sustained protein release over seven hours to stave off hunger and cravings. It is sweetened with stevia, which has no calories and does not impact blood glucose or insulin levels compared with free sugars (7) providing a sustainable way to manage weight whilst offering a more balanced nutrient provision.
Weight maintenance relies on adjusting energy intake and/or expenditure over time and requires a life-long but sustainable change to diet and lifestyle to see lasting results.
About The Author
Our clinical lead dietitian & nutritionist
BSc (Hons), PGDip, MSc, MRes, RD
Ro (Rosemary) Huntriss is a UK Registered Dietitian with several years’ experience working in the NHS, private practice and commercial business. She is an academic author, having published in peer-reviewed journals including the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and is one of four authors globally to have their work featured in the 2020 Public Health England consultation on lower-carbohydrate diets for type 2 diabetes.
Ro works as a Clinical Lead Dietitian for Europe’s largest dietetic digital healthcare company and has worked with several brands to include Nestlé, Huel and Natvia. Ro also contributes to many national publications to include the Daily Mail, The Express, The Sun, HELLO! Magazine, OK! Magazine, The Mirror and many more. Her advanced knowledge of food helped us to craft our formulations perfectly to have the right balance of taste, substance and nourishment.
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- Samuel P, Ayoob KT, Magnuson BA, Wölwer-Rieck U, Jeppesen PB, Rogers PJ, et al. Stevia Leaf to Stevia Sweetener: Exploring Its Science, Benefits, and Future Potential [Internet]. Vol. 148, The Journal of nutrition. NLM (Medline); 2018 [cited 2020 Oct 19]. p. 1186S-1205S. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29982648/