Summer means two things: barbecues and bathing suits. Unfortunately, the former does very little to help us feel better about the latter. Between cookouts complete with high-fat, low-protein sides (like potato salad with bacon bits) and icy beers from the cooler, it may be tempting to try just about anything to slim down quick before you hit the beach. The trendiest way to get thin quick? These days, it’s the celebrity-endorsed juice cleanse.
First things first: what is a juice cleanse? It’s definitely not cranberry juice cocktail and a carton of OJ (much to your dismay, if you’ve ever checked out the price tag on your typical pre-made fresh juice). Juicing typically involves unpasteurized produce blends of some combination of kale, cucumber, celery, apples, beets, carrots and more. Going on a juice “cleanse” involves drinking only these juices (with little to no solid foods) for anywhere from one to five days.
Think you’ll save money by blending your own juices? With the quantity of fruits and veggies you’ll need to last for more than a day or two on juice alone, think again. And that’s not even taking into the account the price of a juicer (hint: they don’t come cheap).
So what are the supposed benefits? Juicing strips fruits and veggies of many of their healthful attributes, including the fiber that keeps us feeling fuller, longer. Instead, these blends are often high in sugar but low in calories, which means that you’ll burn glycogen during the first few food-free days. You’ll lose some water weight, too, which makes many believe it’s a diet that works.
However, with low protein and restricted calories, your body is more apt to burn the lean muscle that actually boosts your resting metabolism, and once you begin a diet of solids, that water weight you lost will likely return. Effectively, a juice cleanse does little more than risk muscle loss and malnutrition from a lack of proper nutrients.
So, what does work when it comes to weight loss? You guessed it: a healthy diet and regular exercise. No one’s gushed about it on Gwyneth’s Paltrow’s blog, but anyone who has achieved successful weight loss knows it’s all the rage.