The Juicy Truth

Discover the healthier alternative to juice cleansing.

Erika Rech

Diet fads come and go, but juice cleansing is  here to stay. Celebrities, from actress Olivia Wilde to supermodel Chrissy Teigen, tout pre-made juice cleanses as the quickest answer to shedding pounds, and even Whole Foods picked up the BluePrint Cleanse brand. But there’s more to juicing than questionable weight loss results. If made at home regularly and served with meals, unadulterated juice can balance out an unhealthy diet with essential nutrients that may be missing.

The “juice cleanse” definition varies. For some, it means drinking only juice in three to five day stints to initiate weight loss. For others, it means juicing fruits and vegetables to establish a healthier lifestyle. Nutritionist Tara Gidus, team dietitian for the Orlando Magic and co-host of TV’s Emotional Mojo, is an advocate of the latter. “Drinking fresh juice means more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It’s a great way to get your daily serving of fruits and vegetables, which boosts your immune system.” To make juice at home, you need a juicer (costs range from $100 to $350) and time to experiment with mixing different fruits and veggies.

But Gidus cautions those who juice cleanse to lose weight. “In three days you’ll get dehydrated. You’re depleting your body of carbohydrates, which it needs to produce energy. You’re not losing fat in three days—you’re losing something your body needs.”

To avoid this deficiency, Gidus suggests making a juice that you love and including it between or during smaller meals. “Juicing is the best option for people who hate things like steamed broccoli or raw vegetables. It’s often easier to drink a juice of kale, spinach and carrots than just eat them.” Adding juice to a meal fills the stomach more quickly, reducing overall food intake.

Orlando resident Daniel Jackson is testimony to juicing in place of eating vegetables; he and his fiancé, Katie Cornell, didn’t enjoy veggies and decided to make a change. “I started juicing to hopefully lose weight. We weren’t eating enough vegetables, so it gave me somewhere to start,” says Jackson. He and Cornell decided to try it together, bought a juicer and found a recipe for a delicious green juice high in vitamins.

The couple started juice cleansing in five day increments with two weeks off in between each cleanse over the course of three months. During the two “break weeks,” they became more conscious of how they were eating. Jackson did lose a few pounds, but the ultimate victory was the balance it brought  to everyday meals. “We started eating cooked vegetables because we felt like we were missing something when we weren’t juicing.”

Gidus says anyone trying a weight-loss cleanse should expect side effects, such as headaches, hunger pangs and irritability. But the healthier alternative of cutting down portions and including a fresh, homemade juice with meals “will expand your horizons,” she says. “Your health potential skyrockets when you introduce all-natural juice to your diet. Fruits and vegetables are where it’s at when we’re talking about getting healthy.” 

Lean, Mean and Green
Check out these recipes from our fresh juice advocates. 
Tara’s Recipe:
8 whole carrots, ends cut off
4 celery stalks
2 apples, variety of choice
1 beet, skin removed
1 lemon, rind cut off
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Daniel’s Recipe:
2-3 handfuls of raw spinach
5 celery stalks
2 green apples
1 large cucumber, peeled
1 lemon, rind cut off
An ounce of fresh ginger


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