How to Do a Juice Cleanse: The Cleanse and Detox Guide
Cleanses are everywhere these days: celebs do 'em, soccer moms do 'em, but could you? If you're wondering how to do a juice cleanse, you're not alone. While promising to eat better or finally use that gym membership you've been paying for for months are part of the game we play with ourselves (we'll totally be healthier tomorrow!), cleanses act as a kind of reset button that may be really helpful for getting your health back on track. To help you figure out not just how to do a juice cleanse, but how to tell if it's right for you and what they're really like, let's dive into the nitty gritty.
What is a cleanse?
Cleanses use a carefully crafted diet or process to eliminate harmful toxins from the body while encouraging weight loss and renewing energy.
Unlike other diets, cleanses are specifically meant for the short term, lasting anywhere from 10 days to, as in the case of a colonic, a single afternoon. For almost all meal-replacement or diet-based cleanses, alcohol and sugar are banned, but beyond that details will vary depending on the cleanse.
What are the benefits of a cleanse?
Increased energy, weight loss, and kickstarting healthier habits!
One of the biggest benefits of juice cleanses is that they can be used as a jumping off point to help people make better lifestyle choices. That's because the cold-turkey break from fat and added sugar can help realign your taste buds with cravings for healthier options (click here to read more).
What are toxins?
Definitions vary, but basically, they're all the yucky stuff we put into our bodies.
That's a tricky one to answer because the term covers a broad spectrum of ingredients and elements that ranges from chemicals and pollutants to artificial food ingredients. Not all cleanses agree explicitly on what constitutes a toxin, but the general gist is that there's an abundance of them in the world and while our body can eliminate them naturally, cleanses may help speed the process along.
What will it feel like?
Definitely expect some feelings of hanger, especially if you're used to the daily cup of coffee or midafternoon sugar rush.
Since all diet cleanses require you to cut caffeine and sweets, you might feel some discomfort, including withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and crankiness. It's also a pretty big change to go to an all-liquid diet, so cravings and hunger are natural, too (click here to read about what happened when one of our editors tried a 3-day juice cleanse). As the only physical procedure, colonics are a bit different. Some patients report feeling an intense pressure during the process that is often described as uncomfortable or awkward, though not at all painful.
Which one should I try?
Think about what you want to achieve, but be real about your commitment level.
Because the benefits of all cleanses are so similar (ridding toxins, weight loss, boosting energy, etc.), it can feel overwhelming to try and choose one. But whether you want to make a big lifestyle change or you're just looking for a way to hit the reset button after a weekend of too many slices of pizza, your decision should be based on one simple question: what kind of commitment can you reasonably make? To help you decide, let's take a look at four of the most popular types of cleanses:
Why choose it: if you're really intense about detoxing
What is it: Originally developed in the 1940s by Stanley Burroughs, it popped up again in the '70s when he included it in his book The Master Cleanser, and has seen a true renaissance in the last 20 years. Popularized by celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Beyoncé, it's a modified juice fast that swaps all food for a kind of tea or lemonade made from lemons, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. Sometimes it's paired with a laxative or salt-water flush.
Time commitment: 10 days of the detox itself, followed by a gradual reintroduction period for solid foods
Why choose it: if you're intense, but you need more variety in your diet
What is it: Unlike the Master Cleanse, there are a wide range of juice cleanses available from a variety of companies. After slowly weening yourself off solid foods in the days or week leading up to your cleanse, you'll swap solid foods for a variety of tasty juices made from fresh fruits and vegetables.
Time commitment: up to a week of prep followed by approximately 1–5 days of the cleanse itself
Buy the Jillian Michaels Detox and Cleanse 14-day kit (from $29.99) to supplement your detox or shop others like it.
Why choose it: if you don't want to give up food entirely
What is it: The heartiest of the cleanses, a detox cleanse is more of a diet than the others as it doesn't eliminate food. Instead, you'll follow a highly restrictive diet composed largely of fresh and raw fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts. Some diets even allow for lean meats like fish. Pay close attention to the specific rules of your diet, though, because it's likely that not all fruits and veggies are created equal. Dr. Mark Hyman's 10-Day Detox Diet, for instance, allows for radishes, kale, and blueberries while forbidding sweet potatoes, lentils, and all dairy.
Time commitment: around 10 days with no prep or reintroduction period
Find colon hydrotherapy sessions near you with sessions starting around $35.
Why choose it: if you're not ready for a multi-day commitment
What is it: A colon cleanse or colonic hydrotherapy is a simple procedure that flushes toxins out of the lower intestine via an enema of warm water during a short appointment. It's usually recommended that clients refrain from eating or drinking for two hours prior to the procedure. Afterward, food that's easy to digest can be eaten almost immediately. Many people report feeling lighter after the process, and you may even feel a burst of energy.
Time commitments: a single afternoon, with the procedure itself taking around an hour or less
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