Are you skeptical about whether juice cleanses actually work? You're not alone. With so much conflicting advice from the “experts” and mainstream media, it’s time we clear the air and show you exactly what to expect from doing a juice cleanse based on tens of thousands of directly reported results. We’ll demystify the science behind cleansing, offer clarity on some of the scientifically-backed benefits, and manage your expectations of outcomes based on real data. We’ll also touch on how to prepare and what to do after finishing an organic juice cleanse, so that you can confidently decide whether it’s right for you.
Why Should You Do a Juice Cleanse?
Juice cleanses are a short-term dietary practice meant to rapidly detoxify your body, activate important self-preserving mechanisms such as autophagy, and ultimately put you on a fast-track to a healthier life. During a two to three-day cleanse, only juices made from carefully chosen raw fruits & vegetables (preferably organic) are consumed. Outside of those juices, water & herbal teas are also encouraged, but no solid food or stimulants of any kind are permitted.
There are a number of reasons why you should do a juice cleanse, here are just a few:
- Turn Back The Biological Clock – Between the 24 and 48-hour mark of cleansing, your body will enter a state of autophagy, a fundamental cellular process that eliminates molecules and subcellular elements (cellular junk). Mounting research suggests that autophagy is intimately linked to health, with its connection to the aging process and disease progression becoming increasingly apparent.
- Kickstart Weight Loss – It’s very commonly reported to lose a quick 1-8 lbs during a two to three day juice cleanse, but that’s just the start. Oftentimes users feel so light, energized, and rejuvenated that they find it far easier and sensible to continue on a healthier lifestyle in order to maintain their post-cleanse highs for as long as possible.
- Seed A Healthier Gut – A good juice cleanse is balanced with vegetable-based, prebiotic-rich juices with raw, unpasteurized nutrients and enzymes to stimulate the microbiome, which is intimately linked to the immune system. The best juice cleanses on the market are certified organic and contain a broad spectrum of the strongest compounds found in the plant world.
What's Involved in a Juice Cleanse?
A typical juice cleanse consists of 5-8 juices per day, spanning a period of anywhere from 1-5 days. Depending on the cleanse type, you may consume single-ingredient juices, like celery juice, or blended juices, which can consist of 3-8+ fruits, vegetables, and adaptogens. Ingredients are normally selected based on their nutrition profiles and role in detoxification.
Though each juice cleanse is different, many ingredients seem to overlap. Take kale, for example; with a high vitamin K content and powerful anti-aging compounds, it is present in practically every major cleanse on the market.
On average, a cleanse involves consuming the 5-8 juices per day at scheduled intervals, replacing your usual meals and snacks. The schedule may vary, but it's common to start the day with a green juice to gently boost energy levels and stimulate metabolism. At night, it’s typical to have a soothing, adaptogen based juice with compounds that promote better sleep.
The Science Behind Juice Cleanses
Our bodies are world-class detoxification machines. To flush toxins like trans fats from cooked seed oils & chemical pesticides from big corporate food, the liver, kidneys, and other parts of the digestive system work together to eliminate these harmful waste products. But even a well-oiled machine is susceptible to Western diets of highly cooked, overly-processed and chemical-laden foods.
A juice cleanse eliminates the burden of processing any additional food on your digestive system, and allows the organs a much needed chance to more deeply repair themselves. Since many of us don’t eat enough raw foods, the juices replenish enzymes that have been depleted in the gut and infuse the body with a broad spectrum of raw and highly bioavailable nutrients and plant compounds. This is why after a short while, many users experience a sense of lightness and well being that is usually only achieved after many months of highly disciplined diet and lifestyle.
Positive findings in the scientific community suggest that juice cleanses can assist with weight loss, improve nutrient absorption, and promote better gut & immune system health.
Cleanses Selecting the Right Cleanse Duration
As much as they vary in ingredients & results, most juice cleanses also vary in length. You can try it out for just one day or go as long as a week. Ultimately, the “right” duration will depend on your goals, previous cleanse experience, willingness to abstain from food, and lifestyle. Here’s a quick breakdown of what you can expect:
1-Day Cleanse – A quick reset, great for first-timers who want to test it out and see how their body responds. Usually 1 day is not enough to trigger autophagy.
3-Day Cleanse – A 72-hour period allows time for deep detoxification, weight loss, and healthy habit formation. The majority, if not all, possible objectives of juice cleansing is achievable within this time frame.
7-Day Cleanse – For veteran cleansers, looking for a more of a physical & mental challenge. Any and all potential benefits of the cleanse will be realized.
To find out which cleanse is right for you, check out our guide: 1 v. 2 v. 3-Day Juice Cleanse.
What to Expect During a Juice Cleanse
Results will vary between individuals, but a common timeline of what you can expect are as follows:
Day 1 – Increased levels of energy. The most frequent urination will occur on this day resulting in a noticeable release of water retention.
Day 2 – Deep toxin release begins as autophagy occurs. Mild symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and mood swings for approximately 20-30% individuals may begin, though they’re quite tolerable with proper hydration. These are positive signs that your body is flushing cellular waste and heavy toxins that have accumulated.
Day 3 – The symptoms from day 2 will begin to subside and a resurgence in motivation & mental clarity tends to occur as the body has already experienced substantial detoxification. Sense of well being progresses throughout the day in 50-60% of users.
After day 3, given the user had not eaten, was properly hydrated, and had adequate sleep, a whopping 95% of users either lost weight (3-8 lbs on average) or had an elevated sense of well being and motivation to make lifestyle changes.
Preparing for a Juice Cleanse
Before starting a juice cleanse, you must first evaluate your current health status, especially if you have any chronic conditions or nutrient deficiencies. And because your body has to adapt to a steep caloric deficit and a change in food quality, you’ll want to prepare for your cleanse a few days before it begins.
In the days leading up, you must reduce your intake of heavily-processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, and meat, and especially animal proteins. Animal proteins contain amino acids that can prevent you from entering autophagy once you start your cleanse. This will ease the load on your digestive system and get the detoxification process going, rather than shocking it with a brand-new diet the morning of. You should also increase water consumption and set aside an additional 1-2 extra hours of sleep per night – these will prime your body for a smooth transition and vastly minimize the potential detox symptoms.
Maintaining the Benefits After the Cleanse
The worst thing you can do after a juice cleanse is immediately fall back into old, unhealthy habits. Resist the urge to binge-eat; instead, gradually reintroduce healthy foods like raw fruits, nuts, and lots of plant-based proteins. A slow transition period will reduce the likelihood of bloating, gas, cramps, or other digestive issues, which you just spent a handful of days working to undo. Outside of nutrition, return to your normal exercise routine and listen to your body as you forge new habits.
Now that you know what to expect on a juice cleanse, you can decide whether or not it’s right for you. If you’re looking to reset your system and transition to a more healthy, balanced lifestyle, it could be what you’re looking for. Not to mention, you’ll lose a few pounds, give your gut what it has been deprived of, and improve your mental fortitude along the way.