Detoxes & juice diets are popular dieting strategies that are advocated to cleanse, detoxify, recharge, or “fat-flush” your body by eliminating dangerous toxins and impurities from the body. This is an attractive solution for individuals looking for a quick fix to improve body composition and health by rapidly burning unwanted body fat. However, the reason for notable reductions in body weight is misleading.
Companies and promoters of such diets & products suggest that in order for you to lose weight you must be on a diet that involves nothing but glasses of green juice drinks, packed with as many ‘superfood’ fruits & vegetables as possible, along with powdered supplements & multivitamin capsules. This will help you shed fat by cleansing your body of all toxins.
Yes, you will lose weight if glasses of green mush are staples in your diet and replace whole foods.
- What is a juice diet?
- How does it work?
- Benefits of Juicing: Why is Juice Diet Important?
- Weight loss
- Is it healthy?
- The body can already “detox” itself!
- Take-home message
What is a juice diet?
The juice diet plan to lose weight is one of the most popular diets in recent times. It is also known as the quick fix regime that helps for rapid weight loss in a very short time period. It claims to be a healthy weight loss strategy to assist other health benefits such as clearer skin, improved mood, and detoxing the liver.
However the negatives that outweigh these as it is
- difficult to transition back to normal eating habits
- weight loss experienced in a week is mostly water weight,
- very low calorie and protein which risks losing muscle mass and strength. The main benefit to this is it helps people to consume a lot more fruit and vegetables, but this can be done as part of a normal balanced diet.
How does it work?
Almost all juice diets are based on consuming many juiced fruits andvegetables. However, the calorie intake is generally very restricted on juice diets resulting in large (water) weight loss.
Juice diets are usually limited between three days and one week because they cannot be sustained for any longer. It is not a magic solution and it does not detox the liver – this is a false claim as the body does this perfectly well on its own.
Benefits of Juicing: Why is Juice Diet Important?
The juice diet is not important. It’s an unsustainable quick fix that does not benefit people in the long run. I do not want to be promoting the (very limited) benefits of such fad diets please.
So there are some questions that need to be answered…
Does this diet work? Is it healthy? Can you sustain this long-term?
Let’s see if the green juice benefits outweigh the disadvantages…
I’ve admitted that you will lose weight on this diet, so this must be a good idea if you need to lose weight? Not necessarily.
In any diet, if you consume less energy (calories) than what you expend causing a calorie deficit, you will lose weight. And in the case of a typical juice and detox diet you are chronically energy restricted, hence the rapid weight loss.
Switching from a regular daily routine of eating 3-4 meals consisting of 2,000-2,500 kcal, to a juice diet where you’re drinking 3-4 glasses of fruit & veg that are naturally low in calories, providing approx. 150-200 kcal each… surely it’s obvious that you’re going to lose weight?!
This will be a huge shock to your body and it will compensate for the drastic reduction in energy availability, by sourcing the energy it needs by utilising stored body fat, but also lean tissue e.g. muscle & bone. This is where the long-term negative health implications can occur.
This is not sustainable. Your body will be telling your brain that it’s starving (hunger pangs). You need to listen to your body. The juice or ‘detox’ isn’t the cure for the fat loss…it’s the calorie deficit.
Now think about when you come off this diet and start to eat properly again. Switching from drinking just 600 kcal back to eating 2,000-2,500 kcal regularly, what do you think the short-term effects will be?
Eat good nutritious foods and also a bit of the foods you enjoy, just control portion sizes and eat less over all, as part of a balanced & active lifestyle. This is the sustainable, healthy & realistic way to lose body fat.
Is it healthy?
The benefits of juicing are that you’re getting a week’s supply of vitamins and minerals from drinking juices of colourful fruit and vegetables every day. However, your body will only take on so much and will urinate a large amount of this, if consumed regularly through the day without any other food. Surely that’s the key to a successful diet?!
That is probably the only benefit to going on a juice diet. However there are many other nutrients that are missing and are critical for health.
Firstly and as previously mentioned is the significant lack of calories. Energy restricted diets can have negative implications, whether it is 300 kcal or 1,300 kcal. Obviously the greater the deficit, the greater the implications, and in juice diets severe calorie restriction is common. Fatigue, nausea, constipation and diarrhoea, illness, weakness & injury are all associated with very low calorie diets.
Only drinking fruit & veg will result in nutrient deficiencies. Not only are you avoiding valuable micronutrients (vitamins & minerals) found in other foods, but protein & fats are vital for many physiological functions. Protein is essential for growth and repair, and fats for hormone production and transporting vitamins A, D, E & K.
Juice diets are also low in fibre, which the body needs to properly aid digestion. The fibre is found in the skin and pulp of fruits and veg which is often discarded when juicing. A study has shown a positive association for increased risk of type II diabetes when consuming fruit juices compared to whole fruits, particularly blueberries, grapes & apples (Muraki et al., 2013). This may be attributed to the removal of the fibre and other phytonutrients in the juicing process.
So what’s the best solution?
It’s simple, really. Eat WHOLE foods including fruits and vegetables to obtain ALL their nutrients.
The body can already “detox” itself!
The body maintains its homeostasis by eliminating the toxins all by itself. The liver & kidneys are far superior to any concocted, green fruit and veg mush.
There is no scientific evidence to support green juices for liver detoxification or any diet that can “cleanse” the toxins and impurities built up from excessive weight gain and unhealthy binges.
I think it’s clear to say that the negatives outweigh the positives.
Detox juice diets are not a practical dietary strategy for healthy weight loss, and it is the reduction in calories that drives weight loss, not a detox!
If you are not lover of fruit & vegetables, especially dark, leafy green veggies, blending them together into a smoothie that you can enjoy is a practical method of getting the essential nutrients your body needs. Just make sure you leave the skins on them to get the fibre, and don’t replace this for actual food!
Toxins are not hazardous and you can trust your body to do its job in removing anything that it doesn’t like. Excessive consumption of fruit juices will not do this.
Most importantly enjoy your food, focus on portion control, exercise regularly, and work out a nutritional strategy that suits your goals & lifestyle.
I advocate an 80/20 attitude to help you enjoy your food, meaning you can eat well 80% of the time and you can afford to treat yourself the other 20%. All plans and strategies are tailored to your needs, helping you to achieve your goals the easy way. Get in touch via the contact page if you’re interested in my personalised support services.
Now, let’s look at vegetarian & vegan diet pros and cons as well.
Halton, T.L., & Hu, F. B. (2004). The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23, 373–385. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15466943
Muraki, L., et al. (2013). Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies. British Medical Journal, 28, 347 – 360. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23990623
Does juicing detox your body?
No. The body can detox itself. Compared to any prepared, green fruit and vegetable mush, the liver and kidneys are far better. They can eliminate toxins and impurities all by themselves. A juice diet is a reduction in calories that drives weight loss, not detox.
Which juice will reduce belly fat?
Any fruit and vegetable juices are good to lose weight but some companies and promoters may suggest juice-only diets to lose weight quickly, simply to make money. However juice-only diets are not a good idea as they are nothing more than a short-term fix, without any sustainable solutions when you reintroduce whole food.
Can a juice diet replace meals?
You will get enough vitamins and minerals from green juices but no, you can’t replace your meal with a juice diet for sustainable weight loss.
What should I eat while juicing to lose weight?
Don’t follow a juice diet, just eat smaller portions of high quality food.