Juice cleanses for weight loss- The Facts
It’s that time of year – January, New Year, new habits, new you. After overindulging in December, many of us jump on the detox bandwagon, feeling the need to make quick-fix, extravagant changes overnight.
I understand the desire to feel and look your best, but save your money and your time by avoiding short-fix detox plans because they really don’t work. Yes, really.
With the ongoing popularity of the infamous juice cleanse, we need to get the facts right as to WHY a juice cleanse is not going to give you the detox you’re looking for. Read on to find out…
WHAT IS A JUICE CLEANSE?
A juice cleanse is a fad diet, which usually consists of 1-3 days of consuming only fruit and vegetable juices. A typical day would consist of 5-7 juices spread out across the day with 2-3 hour gaps between each drink.
These juices all contain different fruits and veggies, but due to the juicing process they get stripped of their fibre and contain no protein, healthy fats and they lack certain vitamins (such as B12)- which are all vital for healthy sustainable weight loss.
A juice cleanse will usually offer different levels- more fruit based juices for beginners and all green’s for the juicing-pro’s.
Some cleanses have more recently introduced soups, which are a good option to choose when wanting to give your digestion a break but can still pack in protein, fibre, nutrients, veggies and pulses whilst leaving you more satisfied without the sugar crash.
DOWNSIDES OF A JUICE CLEANSE
A juice cleanse contains ZERO fibre, which has been stripped out of all the vegetables and fruit during the juicing process. Fibre is hugely beneficial for many aspects of our health, including weight loss.
Fibre feeds the healthy bacteria which reside in the gut, which in turn help to regulate our satiety and hunger hormones which contribute to feeling full and energised.
Fibre is also a key player when it comes to sustainable weight loss – numerous studies have demonstrated that individuals who consume more fibre, have a lower risk of belly fat. (1) In addition, Fibre has been shown to aid with weight loss due to its satiating effects, keeping us fuller for longer. (2)
Therefore, a fibre-lacking juice cleanse can make it challenging to lose any weight long-term.
The low-calorie content of juice cleanses can result in tiredness, fatigue, increased cravings, headaches and dizziness. This intense level of tiredness and cravings from food restriction can lead to potentially overeating and binge eating behaviours.
Juice cleanses may also result in muscle loss if undertaken for longer periods of time, thanks to the little protein found in juices, which is needed for muscle synthesis. (3)
Juice cleanses can lead to a short-term weight loss on the scales, but this does not translate to fat loss. The weight-loss individuals experience from a juice cleanse is most likely due to a lack of food in the system, water weight loss and a loss of muscle mass. A loss of muscle has been shown to slow down metabolism rates, resulting in weight gain once regular eating patterns resume. The severe calorie restriction from juice cleanses can slow down an individual’s metabolism in the long term. (4)
DO JUICE CLEANSES WORK FOR WEIGHT LOSS?
Only consuming juice eliminates many important nutrients from the diet, impacting an individual’s overall nutrition intake. Balanced nutrition is not only key for health, but it also plays an important role in supporting weight loss due to the requirement of all macro and micronutrient food groups having different roles within the body. If your body finds itself not getting what it requires from diet alone, this can impact appetite, cravings and mood.
If your diet is lacking protein, this can have an instant impact on muscles if you are working out. Studies have shown that high protein diets have been associated with higher levels of weight loss (5), mainly due to better appetite control, proteins thermogenic effects on the metabolism of food and its role in supporting muscle function.
Cutting your overall calorie intake when juicing, still forces the body to use stored glycogen for energy. As this glycogen is used, water is released rather than fat- which results in water loss rather than weight loss once you jump on the scales. This water loss creates the illusion that you may have lost weight, however unfortunately this loss is likely to be gained back pretty quickly once you finish your juice cleanse.
WHAT CAN WE DO FOR WEIGHT LOSS INSTEAD?
Thinking about what we can include, rather than remove in the diet is the best way to reach health goals. Forget fad diets, artificial sweeteners and overpriced weight loss supplements that don’t work, as these can all cause more harm than good to the body.
Stripping it back to basics by limiting processed foods, and cooking as much as possible from scratch is the best and easiest way to achieve long-term sustainable weight loss. Knowing exactly what goes into our food is a good approach to monitor where and what we are missing when it comes to a healthy balanced diet.
Ensuring you are having a balanced plate at each meal is also an important factor when it comes to weight loss- aiming for ½ the plate to be filled with fresh vegetables, ¼ good quality lean protein and ¼ complex carbohydrates.
Incorporating movement into your routine 3 x a week will also support long lasting weight loss and heart health- switching up your routine with different workouts such as yoga, pilates, cycling, jogging or whatever you enjoy can contribute to feeling your best.
The way in which we eat also has a role to play when it comes to weight management – being mindful and taking time to enjoy your food, with no distractions is key. Trying to gain control of your hunger signals is a great place to start – when you eat the right amount of food for you, hunger levels begin to disappear and you feel fully satisfied and content. Not overly full but no longer hungry. To learn more about mindful eating, take a read of my article with tips on how to eat more mindfully here.
BENEFITS OF JUICING
Incorporating juices in your diet may be a beneficial addition if someone is struggling to include enough vegetables during the day, or if they fancy a refreshing drink. Opting for juices with more vegetables than fruit is the best option to lower your intake of sugar and get the most vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients out of your juice.
Eating a whole, fresh fruit will bring more health benefits due to the presence of dietary fibre and other nutrients in the fruit’s skin and pulp, in addition to it being more satiating to eat, rather than slurp.
BUT WHAT IF YOU NEED A DETOX?
Firstly, the human body is super efficient at detoxification. But with all the marketing ploys we have seen throughout 2021 and now 2022, it’s hard to not be sucked in by the detox industry.
If toxins did build up and the human body could not get rid of them, we would not be able to survive! A healthy human body has kidneys, skin, a liver and lungs that are all detoxifying at this very moment of reading! There is no perfect “juice detox” that can do this better than a healthy body itself.
If you feel as though you have over-indulged recently, or had a heavy weekend, there are other nutritionist-approved ways to help you get back on track and feel your best such as:
7-9 hours of good quality sleep a night
Aiming for 5-10 plant foods a day
Drinking 2 litres of filtered water daily
These simple dietary adjustments will are far more likely to get you back on track than a juice cleanse ever will.
If you enjoy the taste or ritual of making or buying a juice then go ahead and juice up! But if you feel the need to consume only juice to reach your health goals, look elsewhere. Smoothies are a great place to start when it comes to weight loss and incorporating more nutritious foods into your diet- they are full of fibre, whole fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and protein can be added in to make it a fully balanced meal.
Avoid the overpriced, glamorised juice cleanses this year for weight loss and try to adopt the 80/20 approach- enjoying healthy, balanced meals 80% of the time and allowing yourself more flexibility 20% of the time. This will avoid any feelings of deprivation, whilst encouraging you to adopt healthy eating habits which include the foods you love.