The Problem With Juice Cleanses

By Kara Greenwood

Suja, Blue Print and other companies are selling weeklong juice cleanses that have turned into a new trend among celebrities, fashion bloggers, and even some alternative medicine supporters.  If you have thought about participating in a juice cleanse at some point, you probably wanted to create healthier eating habits or find an approach to losing weight.  The benefit of looking into these cleanses is that it is great motivation to start making healthier changes in your life by incorporating more fruits, vegetables, and nutrients into your diet.  However, these $75 a day juices packaged in hip plastic bottles are not only hard on your wallet, but not exactly the best approach to longterm weight loss and greater health benefits. Dana B. Davis, registered dietitian and nutrition and dietetics professor at New York University gives us insight on how juices cleanses are not all what they are hyped up to be.

Juice companies claim that if you use the product correctly, the juice will detox and flush toxins from your system. Our human bodies are designed to naturally cleanse and get rid of toxins through the kidneys, liver, and colon.  By drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning before breakfast, you can boost your metabolism and naturally cleanse your body, clear your skin, and help your organs function better.  Therefore, juice cleanses are not essential in terms of detoxifying your body since that is already a function in our digestive systems.

Davis claims, “Depending on the cleanse, dehydration and loss of electrolytes may also be a concern, in addition to diarrhea, cramping, and bloating.” Cutting out solid foods for an extended period of time certainly causes you to lose weight due to a cleanse being extremely low in calories. However this will only be temporary weight loss solution because you are depleting your glycogen stores which results in shedding water weight.  The number on the scale may be smaller, but as soon as the cleanse is finished you will gain back the weight you lost from dehydration.

Companies suggest not to exercise while on a juice cleanse, which is another red flag.  Although it says you will feel more energized and have a clearer mind, it is a simple fact that calories are our energy sources and consuming enough will result in low energy levels. This can cause fatigue or dizziness, which is the last thing you want as you watch your friends or co-workers eat a sandwich, while you gulp down “bottle number three.”

Davis says,“Juice cleanses tend to be generally low in protein and fat, an additional concern if a cleanse is followed for more than a few days. Longterm cleanses that are low in calories, protein, and fat increase the risk of loss of lean body mass and nutrient store, as well as decreased immunity.” Once you eat solid food after the cleanse, your body is going to store the meal as fat because it was in starvation mode. In contrast to a juice cleanse, eating frequent meals while exercising and weight training will increase your metabolism and allow you to burn calories even while you sleep.  You want to have lean muscle mass because muscle burns more calories than fat does. Losing lean body mass and nutrient stores are not something that will benefit you in the long run.

“Juice cleanses do not establish healthy eating habits or patterns, and may increase occurrence of yo-yo dieting or craving less healthy foods,” said Davis. Cutting out food groups, especially the ones you love, is not an enjoyable approach to eating and can also make the forbidden food appear more desirable.  It is better to have your favorite foods in moderation so that will decrease the chance of binging after creating so many food restrictions for yourself. Juice cleanses may be a popular diet trend among many at the moment, but if you are looking to have longterm weight loss and good health, these are important facts that you should consider before jumping into a diet fad.

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Categories: Home, Your Nutrition

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