Health And Wellness

What Is A Juice Cleanse & Does It Work? An Investigation

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During month five of quarantine, I noticed I’d gained 15 pounds. I've never gained weight the way I did during quarantine, and once I'd realized I'd let my laziness and snacking get out of control, I immediately began trying to figure out how to lose the weight and decided on trying a juice cleanse.

My decision to try a juice cleanse was not my first course of action. I tried dieting and exercise (I have a one-year-old Aussie Shepherd that I would walk for miles). I did strength exercising. I ate well.

One thing I couldn't stop doing? Snacking.

I love cookies, ice cream, and cake. I love baking and trying new recipes. I didn't control how much I was making or eating.

Frustrated with this addiction to snack foods, I began drinking cold-pressed juices.

My assumption was that I could train myself to like veggies and crave less sugar.

It didn’t work.

Five months into quarantine, my sister did a juice cleanse in quarantine. She was losing weight and looking great. I was so envious.

Without much research, I allowed her to convince me to try a three-day juice cleanse.

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What is a juice cleanse?

Juice cleanses are marketed as three- to seven-day detoxes claimed to promote weight loss, improve health, and leave you energized.

According to Harvard Health, there is little to no scientific research behind the effectiveness of a juice cleanse.

Some nutritionists even say that a juice cleanse does the exact opposite of its claims.

While drinking cold-pressed juices can add some nutritional benefits, more research is needed to determine the full benefits and safety of juice cleanses.

How to do a juice cleanse

On a Thursday, I went to Gather Juice Co. to pick up my three-day juice cleanse.

I like cold-pressed juice, so I was excited to see what was in my bundle.

Walking in, I was greeted by a nice woman who went to grab my juice cleanse. She brought out a large brown box. “Have you ever done a juice cleanse?” she asked.

No, this was the first time.

She broke down the basics:

The cleanse consisted of 15 juices total, or five per day. Three sweet greens juices, with Fuji apple, spinach, kale, chard, parsley, and ginger. Three pineapple expresses with pineapple, cucumber, granny smith apple, and mint. Three night vision juices with carrot, apple, lemon, and ginger. Three detox lemonades with lemon, activated coconut charcoal, agave, sea salt. Three roots with beet, carrot, apple, lemon, and ginger. And three bottles of cashew milk with nutmeg.

While I felt like I had plenty of juices to ensure I wasn't hungry, the Gather Juice employee told me to listen to my body and eat if I was hungry, suggesting that I stick to the foods the juices were comprised of.

With my juices in tow, I excitedly made the short drive home. Eager to try the juices, I began my juice cleanse that day.

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Day 1

It was mid-day when I received my juices, so I had plenty to drink.

Throughout the afternoon, I drank juices 1-3. I didn’t feel hungry at all.

The juice was delicious — of course, it would be. Juices made from fruits and veggies are my favorites, so I savored each one.

My first real test came at dinner time.

My partner always cooked for us, but that night, he ate alone.

I didn't feel jealous, and I didn't have cravings.

Day 2

I wasn’t hungry when I woke up, but I couldn’t stop thinking about food.

I made it to 9 a.m. before giving in and eating a granny smith apple, which I chopped up and cooked in a pan with some cinnamon and butter. It was a delicious treat, and I didn't feel guilty for eating.

However, as the day wore on, I did get hungry, so I decided to bend the rules.

My new plan was to eat tiny snacks throughout the day to ensure that I wasn't starving.

Through my original research, I discovered juice cleanses can impact your weight negatively. If you are starving your body, you’re likely to gain back any weight you’ve lost, so eating small meals is a great way to ensure you’re getting what you need while adhering to the juice cleanse.

By the close of day 2, I felt like I was handling the juice cleanse well!

Day 3

The real hunger started on day 3.

I woke up hungry, and although I had another apple for breakfast, I felt like I was dying.

The homestretch was incredibly tricky, as I was ready to throw in the towel.

I stayed the course, however, and made it through the third day.

The results

After my juice cleanses, I noticed I wasn't bloated like usual, my skin was clear, and I lost about 4 pounds. I felt great!

That said, I’m not a juice cleanse believer by any means. I gained back the weight, bloat, and acne in a matter of days.

What I did discover through the juice cleanse, however, was that I am lactose intolerant!

Because a juice cleanse takes away the majority of your diet, you can slowly introduce foods back, which can help you discover any food allergies or just food that makes you feel bad in general. I consider that to be the entire reason to do a juice cleanse.

My takeaway?

Juice cleanses don’t live up to the hype. I won't be doing another any time soon — but I will still enjoy cold-pressed juices!

Honestly, learning about my body was worth it, and discovering a dairy intolerance has actually helped tremendously. I’ve adjusted my diet to reflect the fact that some foods just make me feel bad.

If you're looking to give your body a reset and discover what foods work for you, I recommend a juice cleanse, but I wouldn't recommend it for detoxification or weight loss.

I think contentious juice companies are aware that science isn't behind them yet, but that a juice cleanse is a great tool to help you get started on your journey to better health.

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Rachel Reed is a writer and editorial intern interested in news, culture, self, and relationships.