Juice Cleanses For Gamers: Are They Worth the Hype?

Hey guys, Casey here. I’m 1HP’s registered dietitian and I’ve been asked to weigh in on the juice cleanse trend. The question is a good one – at least half the time I drove this last year I was hearing an ad for one juice cleanse or another. But is there any value in following one of these programs? Or is it all hype? 

Juice “Cleanses” and “Detoxing” 

The first thing I need to address is the use of the terms ‘detox’ and ‘cleanse’. The words imply that you have something bad that has built up in your body, and that this bad stuff is stopping you from obtaining your goals.

Here’s the thing. If you truly needed a detox, you would be in the hospital right now.

One of the liver’s main functions is to help filter waste and destroy toxins. And it does a great job at it. If you have any toxins that have built up, it means that your liver is failing.

If your liver is failing, you would be in the hospital. And if you’re in the hospital for a failing liver, trust me, you would need a much more radical treatment than juice.

Why Do People Do Juice Cleanses or Detox Regimens?

People don’t want to be told that their poor choices led to their current predicament. It puts too much blame on themselves without any clear way out. They want to point their finger at a single thing, and then they want an easy solution.

The juice cleanse industry slides right in, puts the blame on some undefined ‘dirtiness’ or ‘toxin’, and promises you a magic solution. Their product will have you shedding pounds and feeling like you were 10 years younger.

People want to believe. I get it.

The typical purchaser of a juice cleanse is someone who is looking to lose weight, has poor energy, and wants to start somewhere. But honestly who cares about terminology and if it actually ‘detoxes’ your liver? The biggest factor people really care about is simply this: Will it help me lose weight quickly?

And here is where most people start arguing with me…

Do Juice Cleanses Help You Lose Weight?

You bet they do. If they didn’t, the juice cleanse industry would be out of business because they wouldn’t be able to get away with selling overpriced juices.

Let me tell you WHY people lose 10 lbs. in a week, and then you decide how it sounds:

  1. They completely eliminated consumption of everything else except the juices. If you drastically cut your caloric intake following ANY dietary program, you are bound to lose weight. When normal eating resumes, the calories come right back up.
  2. They completely eliminated solid food consumption. At any given time, you have several pounds of food sitting in your gut that is in the process of digestion and waiting to either be absorbed or cleared. Once you re-introduce solid foods, you can expect your gut contents to be similarly restored.
  3. Going on a low-calorie diet forces your body to burn its own fuel stores for energy. The first choice is glycogen. Every unit of glycogen binds 3 units of water. As you start burning your glycogen for energy, you will naturally start losing water weight. Once you return to normal eating, your glycogen stores will fill up and again bind water.
  4. Juices have no sodium. Sodium binds water. When you go on a no-sodium diet, you shed some water weight. A certain amount of sodium is required for normal human functioning. Once you start replenishing your necessary sodium stores, they will again bind water.

To summarize: A juice cleanse DOES make you lose weight quickly. However, this is not the same as fat loss. Most of the weight lost comes from a temporary manipulation of your water stores and your gut contents – all of which returns the moment you quit the cleanse. The small bit of fat you did lose as a result of the low-calorie diet could have been obtained following ANY kind of low-calorie diet.

Here’s some other interesting notes:

  • If you add in a juice cleanse without otherwise changing your normal diet pattern or activity, you will gain weight (all you’ve done is add juices).
  • A juice-only diet has no fiber, protein, or fat – all of which provide satiety. Your body is teased by these juices and will constantly tell you how hungry you are!
  • Some juice cleanse programs last for weeks – which increases your risk for developing severe nutrient deficiencies. People have had to be hospitalized for adhering to a juice cleanse for too long.

The bottom line?

Don’t do a juice cleanse. There are other ways to lose fat quicker, safer, and without all the hunger. And if you’re truly worried about toxins in your body, go see a doctor and get checked out.

Got more nutrition questions? Send them in using our contact form or email Casey at caseythomasrd@gmail.com.



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