Are you skeptical about whether juice cleanses work? You're not alone. With so much conflicting advice from the “experts” and mainstream media, we clear the air and show you exactly what to expect.
We’ll explain why you might choose to do a juice cleanse and the science behind cleansing and share what bodily changes you can expect on day 1, day 2, and day 3. We’ll also touch on how to prepare and what to do after finishing an organic cleanse so that you can confidently decide whether it’s right for you. Let’s get started.
Why Should You Do a Juice Cleanse?
Juice cleanses are short-term dietary practices meant to rapidly detoxify your body and activate important self-preserving mechanisms such as autophagy, aka your cells’ system, for clearing out anything unusable. Ultimately, a juice cleanse puts you on a fast track to a healthier life.
During a two-day or three-day cleanse, you consume only juices that contain raw fruits and vegetables (preferably organic). You can also have water and herbal teas outside those juices but no solid food or stimulants.
There are several reasons why you should do a juice cleanse. Here are just a few:
- To turn back the biological clock: Between the 24-hour and 48-hour cleansing marks, your body will enter a state of autophagy. This fundamental cellular process eliminates molecules and subcellular elements (cellular junk). Mounting research suggests a link between autophagy and your health, with its connection to aging and disease progression becoming increasingly apparent.
- To kickstart weight loss: People have reported losing 1-8 lbs during a two-day or three-day juice cleanse. Often, users feel so light, energized, and rejuvenated that they find it far more manageable and sensible to continue a healthier lifestyle to maintain their post-cleanse highs for as long as possible. Of course, there are juices specifically for weight loss if this is your primary goal.
- To seed a healthier gut: A good juice cleanse balanced with vegetable-based, prebiotic-rich juices containing raw, unpasteurized nutrients and enzymes to stimulate the microbiome, which ultimately links to your immune system. The best cleanses on the market are certified organic ones containing a broad spectrum of the most vital compounds in the plant world.
What’s Involved in a Juice Cleanse?
A typical juice cleanse consists of 5-8 daily juices spanning 1-5 days. Depending on the cleanse type, you may consume single-ingredient juices, like celery or blended juices, consisting of 3-8+ fruits, vegetables, and adaptogens. Typically, you select ingredients for their nutrition profiles and roles in detoxification.
Though each juice cleanses are different, many ingredients overlap. Take kale, for example; with a high vitamin K content and potent anti-aging compounds, it is present in practically every major cleanse on the market.
On average, a cleanse involves consuming 5-8 daily juices at scheduled intervals, replacing your usual meals and snacks. The schedule may vary, but it's expected to start the day with green juice to boost energy levels and stimulate metabolism gently. At night, it’s typical to have a soothing, adaptogen-based juice with compounds that promote better sleep.
The Science Behind Juice Cleanses
Positive findings in the scientific community suggest that juice can assist with weight loss, improve nutrient absorption, and promote better gut and immune system health.
Our bodies are world-class detoxification machines. To flush toxins like trans fats from cooked seed oils and chemical pesticides from heavily processed food, the liver, kidneys, and other parts of the digestive system work together to eliminate these harmful waste products.
A juice cleanse eliminates the burden of processing additional food on your digestive system and allows the organs a much-needed chance to repair themselves more deeply. Many of us don’t eat enough raw foods. When this happens, the juices replenish depleted enzymes in your gut and provide a broad spectrum of raw and highly bioavailable nutrients and plant compounds.
This is why, after a short while, some people undertaking a juice cleanse will experience a sense of lightness and well-being that they would otherwise only achieve after many months of sticking to a highly disciplined diet and lifestyle.
Selecting the Right Juice Cleanse Duration
As much as juice cleanses vary in ingredients, most also vary in length. Plus, you can expect different results from a 1 vs. 2 vs. 3-day juice cleanse. Ultimately, the “right” duration will depend on your goals, previous cleanse experience, and willingness to abstain from food and lifestyle. Here’s a quick breakdown of a few different options:
1-day cleanse: A quick reset is excellent for first timers who want to try a juice cleanse and see how their body responds. Usually, one day is not enough to trigger autophagy.
3-day cleanse: 72 hours allows deep detoxification, weight loss, and healthy habit formation. You should make good progress toward the majority, if not all, of your goals during this time frame.
- 7-day cleanse: Veteran cleansers looking for more physical and mental challenges might choose a weeklong juice cleanse. This time frame should allow for excellent progress toward your goals. It will help you maximize all of the potential benefits.
What to Expect During a Juice Cleanse
Results will always vary between individuals who are undertaking a juice cleanse. But to give you some idea of what to expect, here’s a basic timeline for what changes occur during a 3-day juice cleanse:
Day 1: You experience increased energy levels, and your most frequent urination will occur on this day, resulting in a noticeable release of water retention.
Day 2: Deep toxin release begins as autophagy starts to occur. Some individuals will begin to experience mild symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and mood swings. However, these symptoms can be more tolerable if you hydrate properly throughout the day. These are positive signs that your body is flushing away the accumulated cellular waste and heavy toxins.
- Day 3: Your body has already undergone substantial detoxification. The symptoms from day two will begin to subside, and you’ll experience a resurgence of motivation and mental clarity. You might even feel a heightened sense of well-being.
- Beyond: After day 3, if you haven’t eaten but have remained adequately hydrated and gotten adequate sleep, you may have lost some weight and gained the motivation to make significant lifestyle changes.
Preparing for a Juice Cleanse
Before starting a juice cleanse, you must evaluate your current health status, especially if you have any chronic conditions or nutrient deficiencies. And because your body will have 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 to your cleanse, you must reduce your intake of heavily processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, and especially animal proteins, including meat. Animal proteins contain amino acids that can prevent you from entering autophagy once you start your cleanse.
This preparation 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 your water consumption and set aside 1-2 extra hours of sleep per night. This will prime your body for a smooth transition and minimize potentially harmful detox symptoms.
Maintaining the Benefits After Your Cleanse
After a juice cleanse, the worst thing you can do is immediately fall back into old, unhealthy habits. Resist the urge to binge eat. Instead, gradually reintroduce healthy foods like raw fruits, nuts, and many plant-based proteins.
A slow transition period will reduce the likelihood of bloating, gas, cramps, or other digestive issues — all things you just spent a handful of days working to undo. Outside of nutrition, return to your regular exercise routine and listen to your body as you forge new habits.
Now that you know what to expect from a juice cleanse, you can decide whether or not it’s right for you. If you want to reset your system and transition to a healthier, more balanced lifestyle, it could be what you’re looking for. Go ahead, give your gut what it’s been deprived of, and maybe even improve your mental fortitude.