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Juice Cleanse 101

Juice cleanse horrors and wonders: Inside the health fab — 10 things you need to know about going liquid

Kate Bentsen head shot column mug May 2014

Twice in my life, I put myself through one of the best worst things that has ever become a health fad: The juice cleanse. Oh, how I love to hate the six colorful bottles of sweet and savory ingredients that I received for five days.

The optimistic side of me thinks, "Wow Kate, you really have your life together, putting yourself through this to focus on your health," while everyone else wonders why I'm psycho enough to drink kale for dinner.

As weird as it is to digest only pressed fruits and vegetables for days at a time, I eventually became a  believer. Here are 10 things to think about before going liquid yourself:

1. Are they good for you?

Juice websites advertise that their cleanses will detox your body of many toxins, break unhealthy food addictions and strengthen your immune system. While these benefits may all be true, it is on a much smaller scale than the breathless ads would have one believe.

 If you're already in shape and trying out a juice cleanse to look good for a wedding or super judgmental pool party, I don't see the harm in dropping the pounds for a couple days. 

Drinking juice for three days is realistically not going to flush your body of every toxin and make you never want a cookie again. The juices do provide you with enough energy to go about your regular day and leave out any empty calories you would normally consume. In my experience, if you are trying to transform your eating habits, a cleanse is a good way to kick off a new health conscious lifestyle.

2. How expensive are they?

Houston based companies offer juice cleanses that range between $35 to $50 per day. If you eat out a lot, that actually could be a good deal. Without any of the tasty restaurant food.

3. Are they safe since they are unpasteurized?

Because the juices are all natural and unpasteurized, there is the slight risk of bacteria. That is why it's recommended that women pregnant or breastfeeding and anyone with an autoimmune disease stay away from the cleanses. Those who take medications that require food should also contact their doctor before going through a cleanse.

4. How hungry will I be?

OK, you're drinking liquid calories all day, you're not going to be full. You may notice that, at least in my case, your stomach may grumble before meal time and especially when you get ready for bed.

5. What else can I eat or drink on a detox?

It is not like people are not allowing you to eat. If you decide to cheat with a snack, just make sure it is a water based vegetable like some baby carrots or celery. And feel free to drink as much water as you'd like. In fact, it's encouraged.

But stay away from the soda or coffee. Just because it is liquid does not mean it's OK to put in your body (say goodbye to the 65 grams of sugar in that bottle of Coke).

6. Will I lose weight?

Ah, the question everyone has been waiting for. Yes. You will most likely lose weight. Expect a two to 10 pound loss depending on the length of your detox and body type.

7. Will I keep the weight off?

Here's the catch: Majority of what you shed will most likely be water weight and go right back on once you start eating real food again. A cleanse should be the starting block towards losing weight, if that's what you're looking to do, not your sole plan of action.

For me, seeing that I shed a couple of pounds on the cleanse made it click in my head that my body could, in fact, lose weight, which then motivated me to start hitting the gym every day and order dressing on the side. If you're already in shape and trying out a juice cleanse to look good for a wedding or super judgmental pool party, I don't see the harm in dropping the pounds for a couple days as long as you stay hydrated.

8. How long should I do a cleanse for?

Start off easy, trust me. A five day cleanse is in no easy feat for a beginner. Squeezed — a Houston-based cleanse company — does a good job summarizing the benefits of each day:

Day 1: Get the body back on track, good for maintenance after reaching a desired goal.

Day 2: Hardest day, body is in withdrawal from normal eating habits. Recommended for first timers or simple maintenance.

Day 3: Body starts adjusting to detox, feels rejuvenated, sleeps better. This is considered the easiest day (yeah, I don't consider any of the days "easy.")

Day 4: Unhealthy eating habits and addictions start to break.

Five days or more: Reserved for those with experience, say they've had a lifestyle exchange and are really enjoying the benefits.

9. What are the best Houston spots?

Squeezed is my go to juice company with its affordable prices and awesome 6 a.m. delivery. The juices are all pretty sweet and come in well organized, easy to follow bottles. I have also tried a one day cleanse from Snap Kitchen, which was different because it included sweet and savory (think jalapeno infused) juices. Snap also has a wide variety of cleanses to choose from.

10. So, should I try it?

I am by no means a doctor and have no association with any juice company. Please call up your doctor and get their cleanse blessing, because last time I checked, I'm just a sophomore in college.

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