Juice Cleanses: Do They Work?

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Special event coming up? Do this juice cleanse. Just got back from an all-inclusive vacation? You need this juice detox. Start your day with celery juice and lose weight fast!

But do juice cleanses and detoxes really work?

What is juicing?

Juicing involves a process where raw fruits and vegetables are broken down to extract a liquid. It is intended to separate the solids from the liquids. The liquid is what houses a vast majority of the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals of the produce, while the solid matter is almost entirely the fiber, or roughage, of the plant.

Fresh juices made from one-hundred percent of fruits and vegetables can be delicious and very nutrient-dense. By mixing and matching several fruits and vegetables into one drink, you can focus on the nutrients that are most important to you, control the total sugars, or simply just enjoy a refreshingly colorful beverage.

We often hear that certain juices will make your skin glow, your hair grow faster, or help you focus. This may be (and probably is) true, but all of those powerful juicy nutrients are also found in whole food form.

So, why are you choosing juice over whole foods?

That’s the real question.

Do juice cleanses truly help us detox?

Juice cleanses are often used in detox programs that advertise quick weight loss and ridding the body of toxins. Is that true? Yes, you probably will lose weight after drinking just juice for five days, but you’ll quickly gain it back once you resume normal eating patterns (because who isn’t starving after only drinking juice?).

Most of the weight lost from juice cleanses is due to extreme calorie deficit that drops your basal metabolic rate (a.k.a. tells your body to slow down) and fluid loss from not eating enough carbohydrates.

As far as detoxing goes, your body can handle that on its own. Our body is well-equipped with its own detoxing systems to keep it safe from toxins and waste. This is done through the kidneys, lungs, skin, lymphatic system, digestive tract, and liver.

If these are all healthy, then you’re already detoxing 24/7. While juices do provide essential nutrients to help our bodies run properly, so do whole foods and solid meals.

Do you need to juice?

Do you like the taste? Does it help you get more fruits and vegetables into your day? Is it refreshing to you?

Then, drink up!

But, if you’re looking for a quick-fix to lose some pounds, look a different way. There is no scientific evidence that supports juice cleanses as being effective for safe and sustainable weight loss.

However, drinking raw juice can be beneficial in many other ways. Liquids are easier to consume and the nutrients often get absorbed quicker by the digestive system compared to their solid counterparts. This is why some health professionals may recommend juicing for certain medical conditions, after surgery, or if you have nutrient deficiencies. On the other hand, juicing can be harmful to those with some medical conditions and to those who have a history of disordered eating.

Also, remember that juicing extracts solid matter getting rid of all the fiber.

Fiber is needed in our diets to help us feel full, support healthy digestion, and prevent certain chronic diseases including cancer.

Bottom line: Drink juice if you enjoy it and makes you feel good, but don’t skimp on your regular meals and snacks.

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Actionable Steps


Think about your “why”

Why are you juicing? If you’re juicing to lose weight, consider another approach that is safer and more sustainable down the road. If you’re juicing for the quick boost of nutrients, that’s great but try not to rely on just juice for key nutrients and look at your overall diet.


Establish overall balance

It’s your overall diet throughout the day and week that matters most. Juice can be a healthy supplement to an already well-balanced diet (emphasis on supplement). Check-in with a Registered Dietitian if you’re concerned about meeting your daily nutrient goals.


Get adequate fiber

Again, juices do not contain any fiber so it’s important to get your fiber from whole foods throughout the day.

Dietitian Tip: Add the extracted pulp back into the juice or save it to add in smoothies, soups, or when cooking grains with broth. Can’t handle a pulpy juice? Start with a little bit at a time until you’re able to add about half of the pulp back into your juice.


Choose wisely

Not all juices are made the same. If you’re looking for the most nutrients, aim for juices that are cold-pressed or use the process of mastication. Heat from centrifugal and high-speed blenders can often damage some of the fragile nutrients.


Chew your liquids

When we chew solid food, it stimulates our digestive tract and warms it up for what is to come. This preparation helps to ease the digestive process and increase absorption. We need the same warm-up when consuming liquids. When taking a sip of juice, swish it around in your mouth for a second and do a few imaginary chews before actively swallowing.


Read more on this topic

Looking for additional information? Check out the different types of juicing in McKel Kooienga’s Juicing 101 and learn more about How Your Body Detoxes, Exploring the Health Benefits of Juicing by Leah Bosley, MA, RD, LD., and Science-based Detox Cleanse Tips by Abbey’s Kitchen (Registered Dietitian). To plan your cleanse, read Planning a detox cleanse by Keri Glassman, R.D.

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About the Author

shannon costello

Shannon Costello

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

Hi, I’m Shannon! I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Culinary Coach, and Personal Trainer. After dedicating over 8 years to the corporate wellness world, I began my own nutrition practice. Chef Shannon Nutrition focuses on plant-based nutrition and culinary coaching. My passion for culinary nutrition grew when I worked as a cooking instructor for a culinary entertainment company. After several years as an instructor and event coordinator, I moved into the role of Director of Culinary Entertainment where I developed all the recipes, menus, and instructor trainings. My dietetic’s expertise helped the company expand into allergy-friendly and health conscious menus to suit all clients.
Full Bio | LinkedIn | 1:1 Coaching

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