low carb : the skinny on juice cleanses and detoxes


We're past the holiday season, and with spring on the horizon you may be feeling less than your best. If you look on social media, there are many people offering quick fixes to "reset" your diet or "detox" your body with a juice cleanse.

But how does a juice cleanse work? It involves drinking nothing but fresh pressed juice for every meal for 3 to 5 days.

Some claim this will detoxify your body, reset your hunger cues, and even help you lose weight.

The truth is, you don't need a juice cleanse.


Freshly pressed juices, when consumed immediately after pressing, have high vitamin contents, which is great. However, juicing a fruit or vegetable removes the fiber and any natural protein found in the fruit or vegetable you are juicing (1). Without the fiber, your blood sugar will rise, only to fall rapidly and leave you hungry an hour later.

Juices are high-carb foods that are usually low in calories. Drinking 4 to 5 juices a day could mean you are consuming only 400-500 calories and over 100 grams of carbs per day! The combination of high-carb and low-calorie can negatively affect your insulin response and even cause you to hold on to stubborn body fat (2).

Juices do not encourage detox. Our kidneys and liver are working to remove toxins from our bodies every minute of every day. These toxins can be from the foods we eat, excess vitamins and minerals, and byproducts of natural chemical processes within our bodies (3).

Our kidneys and liver work to keep our body at a safe, constant level of certain nutrients. Trust them to do their job.


Any product that claims to detox your body is purely marketing. If you feel sluggish and tired after eating certain foods, consider lowering your carb intake to increase your energy and clarity naturally (4).

Going on a juice cleanse or detox can negatively affect your relationship with food. You don't need to punish yourself for eating a second slice of cake at your friend's birthday, or enjoying that extra glass of wine at dinner. Take note of how you feel after indulging. If you don't feel your best, use that feeling to motivate you to stick to your goals.

Juicing fresh fruits and vegetables can be a part of a healthy, low-carb diet, but they are not a cure-all for overindulgence. Stick to juices with more vegetables than fruits for a lower-carb drink, and try pairing your juice with a source of protein and fat for a well-rounded snacks.


(1) Palmer, K. M. (2015, April 7). Nobody can prove that cold-pressed juice is better for you. Wired. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/2015/04/nobody-can-prove-cold-pressed-juice-better/.

(2) Howard, B. V., Horn, L. V., Hsia, J., Manson, J. E., Stefanick, M. L., Wassertheil-Smoller, S., … Kotchen, J. M. (2006). Low-fat dietary pattern and risk of cardiovascular disease: the women’s health initiative randomized controlled dietary modification trial. JAMA, 295(6), 655–666. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.295.6.655.

(3) Forget ‘detoxing’ with a fancy juice cleanse. Your body has it under control. Retrieved October 3, 2018, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/forget-detoxing-with-a-fancy-juice-cleanse-your-body-has-it-under-control/2017/01/03/0720943a-cd13-11e6-b8a2-8c2a61b0436f_story.html.

(4) White, H., & Venkatesh, B. (2011). Clinical review: ketones and brain injury. Critical Care (London, England), 15(2), 219. https://doi.org/10.1186/cc10020.

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