THE BLOG

Should You Do a Wedding Juice Cleanse?

07/30/2013 02:58 pm ET | Updated Sep 29, 2013

Girl gets engaged. Girl goes on juice cleanse. It seems like these days the first piece of wedding wisdom given is related to weight loss. A popular question I've been asked by brides is "Should I do a wedding juice cleanse?". Talking about cleanses can turn into an intense discussion, so I dug down and separated fact from fiction to give you the information you need.

A juice cleanse is a meal replacement program that provides a variety of fruit and vegetable juices over the course of several days. Most programs include approximately five juices as well as a nut based milk for about $65 per day. Before we make the health ruling on juicing, let's look at the $20 billion weight loss industry. To survive and thrive, marketing and ease of product use is key. The term cleanse or detox is genius advertising as it implies there's something 'dirty' that needs to be removed. Cleanses are also appealing because some people are stimulated by a challenge with strict rules to jump-start their health. And ease of use? Juice programs can ship sequential products directly to your home meaning all you need to do is open the box.

Here's what you need to know about juice cleanse programs for wedding weight loss:

  • Detox Qualities: Many juice programs claim to remove toxins. It definitely sounds healthy, but 'toxin' is a vague term and there are no studies that currently support this claim. What we do know is every day your liver and kidneys detox for you. It may not be the juice that's helping you clean up your life, but it is a program that could help you cut out unhealthy foods and beverages you may be having in excess.
  • Gut Rest and Absorption: A common claim is that the program allows for gut rest and therefore improved nutrient absorption. It sounds nice, like your gut is getting a spa vacation, but it's not all that helpful. In order for your digestive system to work well for absorption and more, it needs consistent fiber and use.
  • Nutrients: A major plus is increased fruit and vegetable intake. We chronically miss the mark on our recommended daily intake for fruits and vegetables! Despite the benefits, here's where I get concerned as a health professional. Most juice programs aren't nutritionally sufficient and there is no evidence that nutrients from juices are better than whole produce. You're likely missing out on adequate sources of healthy fat and protein. Yes, nut milks do provide a bit of both, and many vegetables contain trace amounts of protein, but it's not adequate. As a proponent of filling a bride's diet with beauty foods, missing out on this crucial fat and protein will leave your hair and skin lack luster. Another important consideration fat soluble vitamins. While you are getting a ton of vitamins, a lack of fat from the cleanse means fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E and K) aren't absorbed to their full potential.
  • Weight Loss: This is probably the number one desired juice cleanse result, but juices don't cause weight loss. Consuming lower amounts of calories leads to weight loss. After calculating an average day of juices, the daily total for many programs was about 1000 calories. The average female needs at least 1200 calories to function and that's not including any walks, spin classes, etc . Prolonged intake of calories below your body's needs can do more harm than good with side effects like bone loss. Will you lose weight? Probably, but the weight you loose from a juice cleanse is rarely sustainable.
  • Fiber and Satisfaction: Fiber helps you lose weight and stay full but the juicing process removes all of it. Since liquids are digested more quickly than solid foods, hunger signals appear even more quickly than you're used to. And then there are the cravings. Since we are used to a variety of textures every day, a juice cleanse can leave you feeling deprived. Post cleanse, you may go overboard to fill the craving void, leading to weight gain.
  • Sense of accomplishment: It's true, many people who do a juice cleanse say they feel energized and focused after a few days. But is it the juice talking? After a rough time, your mood boost could be related to overcoming a challenge. It's a big pat on the back to finish! It's also important to look at the foods that were removed from your diet. Is your body glad to be potato chip free? Or, is it simply a placebo effect?

If you want to incorporate juicing into your life, my recommendation is to work it into the big picture. Have a juice a few times a week as part of a meal or snack. There are a ton of great juice recipes online or you may have a to die for juice shop in your city! Adding one fruit and vegetable juice to your daily intake can be a smart and fun way to eat more produce and boost beauty nutrients. For juice at home, remember to scrub your produce super clean and only make enough for one sitting to reduce the risk of food-borne illness. Make a mix of vegetables along with fruit (instead of fruit alone) for the healthiest blend possible.

A juice cleanse isn't all bad or good. We all have different things that are important to us. My bottom line is that I want healthy brides. Now that you have the facts, what are your thoughts?