FitGirl: Drink Yourself Skinny? The Low-Down On Juice Detoxes
After venturing through a week-long juice cleanse, I have to agree with them.
Instead of buying juices from pricier programs like Pressed Juicery ($70/day) or Blue Print Cleanse (roughly $65/day), I tailored my juice detox to fit my budget and workout needs. Fresh N' Easy has a collection of 100% vegetable and fruit juices. I drank four juices a day ($4-5/juice) therefore it cost me $16-20/day to cleanse. I also cheated by programming solid foods and caffeine into my detox to have enough energy to jog four or five miles everyday.
For breakfast I ate fruit, like strawberries, blueberries and mango, paired with coffee before hitting the gym. Lunch and dinner consisted of two vegetable juices for each meal containing both greens and vegetables, such as spinach, kale and carrots. If I was hungry late at night—which inevitably happened after only eating 800 calories during the day—I snacked on 200-300 calories of fruit or veggies.
The first three days were taxing on my willpower. I began noticing food everywhere: ads on television, appetizing photos online and food other people ate around me. The social aspect of eating was the toughest to avoid. On the second day I decided to eat lunch and dinner alone after ogling my roommate while she munched on garlic chicken with rich, buttery mashed potatoes for lunch.
During the last four days of the cleanse I saw and felt a difference in my body. Any acne, dark bags under my eyes or discolorations vanished; my skin looked radiant. I lost 5 pounds, felt light, energized and, well, clean. No wonder this is so popular, I thought, I feel amazing. Aside from the consistent daydreams about food, I could focus better as well.
Chipotle was my downfall.
Originally, I planned on doing the detox for 10 or 14 days to experiment with a longer juice cleanse, but after one week I surrendered and chose guacamole over finishing my goal. For a few days after my detox, I gorged on foods I previously denied myself—mainly carbohydrates and sugar—reversing any positive effects of the cleanse.
Experts, such as Cari Coulter, a director at Wellspring weight loss camp in Wisconsin, would not find my reaction surprising. “Rather than enhancing someone's ability to choose healthy foods it is probably going to lead to uncontrolled consumption of all the foods the person has avoided during the fast as soon as it ends,” said Coulter in an interview for The Chicago Tribune. Any meal program that restricts calories can lead to yo-yo dieting: alternating between unrealistically restricting calories and binging on “forbidden” food.
Rachel Berman, the director of nutrition for CalorieCount.com, might attribute my increased energy and weightless sensations to what I was not eating during the juice cleanse: “The benefit is more mental than physical. Any increase in energy likely comes from cutting out things like sodium and saturated fat that can be hindering energy,” according to Berman in an interview for The Chicago Tribune.
Ultimately, juice detoxes are not the best method for weight loss, take willpower to finish successfully and, Coulter argues, aren’t significantly helpful for detoxification:
“Your body has a number of organ systems in place that work to detoxify the body, including the liver, (lymph system), GI tract, lungs, urinary tract, etc. Therefore, cleanses are unnecessary and may even be harmful if they have a diuretic or laxative effect.”
FitGirl is a weekly health and fitness column. If you have any questions you want to see answered feel free to email me.