What happens to your body during a juice cleanse/detox?



















Most people are drawn to juice cleanses or “detoxes” because they want to lose weight quickly or rid their body of certain “toxins”. Whether you call it a cleanse or “detox”, it usually involves the same thing: drinking only fruit or fruit/vegetable juice combinations for an extended period of time. The idea behind it being that fruits and vegetables are good for you, therefore, eliminating all other foods and concentrating on these super foods is a healthy way rid your body of all the “bad” “toxins”.

Does it rid your body of toxins?

No. Your liver can handle all the detoxification that your body needs. It is equipped with special enzymes which break down harmful substances (i.e. alcohol) and package them for secretion from the body. According to Dr. Eric Ravussin, associate executive director for clinical science at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, “I don’t like the marketing around juice cleanses…that it’s going to detox and mobilize all these toxins and all that — this is pure marketing.”

Will it help you lose weight?

Probably. At least in the short run. Juice cleanses usually consist of about 1,000 calories a day. This short term calorie deficit will likely cause short term weight loss.  Key words being “short term”. Unless you adopt healthier habits, the weight will come back on as soon as you stop the cleanse. Additionally, without any protein or fat, you will likely be lethargic from the lack of energy and possibly getting a lot of headaches.

I thought fruit was healthy?

Fruit is healthy…in moderation and when eaten whole. By only drinking the juice and leaving off the skin and other parts of the fruit, you are missing out on many beneficial vitamins and nutrients as well as much of the fiber. The fiber helps slow digestion and maintain steady blood sugar levels. By drinking juice, which is full of sugar and lacking in fiber and protein, your blood sugar levels will soar and an energy crash will likely occur shortly thereafter. If we compare 1 whole apple to 1 cup of apple juice, it’s easy to see why eating an apple is the preferred choice. It has more fiber, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C, and less calories and sugar than the juice.


Apple (whole)

Apple Juice          


95 g

113 g


19 g

24 g


4.4 g

0.5 g

Vitamin A

98 IU

2 IU

Vitamin C

8.4 mg

2.2 mg


Will it hurt me if I try it?

Most experts agree that a juice cleanse will not cause harm if you limit it to less than 3 days. That being said, they also agree there is no real benefit to do the cleanse in the first place. Those who have diabetes, an eating disorder, or are pregnant should avoid juice cleanses all together.

What can I do instead?

As attractive as the “lose weight fast” gimmick is, is it just that…a gimmick. Losing weight (and keeping it off) requires making healthy lifestyle changes. It’s not something that happens overnight. A good rate of weight loss is 2 pounds per week. There is approximately 3500 kcals in a one pound of body fat. Breaking this down, you would need to shave off approximately 1,000 kcals per day in order to lose 2 pounds per week. Keep in mind that everyone loses weight at a different rate, depending on many factors such as gender, age, weight, metabolism, etc.

One way to decrease your overall calorie intake by 1,000 calories per day is to eliminate 500 kcals from your diet and to exercise to burn 500 kcals per day. Start with making healthier swaps such as grilled chicken for fried and salad for fries. Reducing consumption of sugary beverages such as soda and flavored coffee drinks can save you 500 kcals a day alone if you drink more than one a day. You will need to start reading the nutrition label before you eat something in order to help you make your decision. 

If you find it hard to burn 500 kcals at the gym, start with a lower goal. For example, try to burn 250 kcals at the gym, and know that your weight loss will be a little less than 2 lbs. per week. Remember try not to reward yourself for exercising with food. Instead, buy yourself some new running shoes or a magazine. Focusing on a non-food related reward will help keep you on track with your goals. 

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