Is there a magic secret to looking and feeling slimmer, healthier, and ten years younger by next week? The Master Cleanse? The Cabbage Soup Diet? Or maybe a Juice Cleanse?
The Monday after Thanksgiving, I received word that the local juice shop was running a special on a “One-Day Advanced Juice Cleanse”. Just $29.95 for six bottles of juice purported to “stabilize blood sugar, curb pesky cravings, and flood your body with essential vitamins and nutrients.”
I was hoping to help my body process my uber-delicious Thanksgiving.
So I rushed over and picked up my cleanse, shared the good news on Facebook, and cracked open my first bottle. It was called Healing Greens, rang in at 190 calories, and tasted great. Take THAT Holidays!
But, with five more bottles left at 10am, I was already “hangry”–dreading any interaction with humans for fear that I might be a jerk. God help my children after school!
A DAY WITHOUT FOOD? IT JUST SEEMS SO EXTREME!
Well, here is the thing. There are some benefits to doing a liquid cleanse once or twice a year. It gives your digestive system a break and can improve regularity. It can reset your eating habits, and make it easier to reach for healthier choices (like steamed vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins) once the cleanse is over.
I am all for a nice dark green juice. But there are a few major drawbacks to most commercially-prepared juices and juice cleanse programs.
- TOO MUCH SUGAR. Even if there is no “added sugar”, there is still concentrated sugar content when you are juicing. The American Heart Association recommends around 35 grams of sugar a day, which is a LOT less than the 170 grams of sugar in my juice cleanse.
- TOO MUCH FRUCTOSE. Fructose, the sugar found in fruits and vegetables, is unique in that it is metabolized by the liver and turned into glucose and fat. (Whereas glucose can be used by every organ in the body.) Whole fruit and vegetables are never a problem, but concentrated fructose can contribute to weight gain. Read more on that here.
- TOO MUCH JUICE. The Director of the Center for Integrated Nutrition & Performance at Drexel University and a Registered Dietician recommends 8 oz. of 100% pure fruit/vegetable juice per day as a healthy limit, any more is too much sugar/fructose. (My juice cleanse was 96 oz. of juice!)
- NOT ENOUGH PROTEIN. Protein needs increase when calorie consumption is low, especially in the case of calorie restriction for weight loss. Depending on the person, around 50-100 grams of protein per day is recommended. (My juice cleanse provided only 24g of protein.)
That being said, we could ALL use more vegetables and whole fruit in our diets…, especially leafy greens!
Here are my recommendations to get some of the (BENEFITS) of a cleanse without causing spikes in blood sugar:
- Make juice ALL vegetable and go organic. If you want to drink juice for the nutrient blast, make it 8-16 oz. of vegetable juice. Try ordering or making with only 1/2 a green apple, or try one of these recipes at home. (PHYTONUTRIENTS, VITAMINS, MINERALS, AND ANTIOXIDANTS)
- Try a Night Fast. If going without food for a whole day sounds miserable, just go for a whole night. Don’t eat for 12 hours…while you are SLEEPING. Eat a healthy dinner before 7pm and don’t eat any breakfast until after 7am. (DIGESTIVE BREAK)
- Drink some bone broth. Have a liquid snack. Bone broth is easy to digest, protein-rich and bone-building minerals and reparative to intestinal mucosal lining. (That is good!) (BONUS! PROTEIN AND GUT REPAIR)
- Replace a meal with soup. Cooked vegetables, grains, and meats are generally easier to digest and nutrient dense. Plus they are great for warming in the cold weather months. (NUTRIENT-DENSE AND LOW-CALORIE)
So, should you try a full-day or multiple day juice cleanse?
In my opinion, it is too much sugar to be considered truly healthy, especially for those trying to lose weight, with dysglycemia, or prediabetes.