How to Decide if a Cleanse is Worth It

green smoothie

After a summer full of BBQs, weddings, and weekends away, you may be feeling a little weighed down. If you’re considering a cleanse or detox for whatever reason, we encourage you to proceed with caution. Is this cleanse another tick on the laundry list of fad diets or does it actually leave you feeling squeaky clean?

According to Mary Beth Kavanagh, MS, RDN, LD in Today’s Dietitian: The Magazine for Nutrition Professionals, “there’s little scientific evidence that they actually remove toxins, improve health, or induce permanent weight loss.” And the limited studies that have been done regarding their benefits have methodological limitations, or problems with the core principles, says A.V. Klein and H. Kiat in a 2014 review of evidence published in the British Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.

Overall, a diet rich in a variety of fresh and whole foods, eaten in moderation, is the secret to healthy diet that can be sustained long-term. However, if you’re feeling a little run down or need a kick in the pants back to healthier habits, a short-term cleanse may help you reboot. Here’s a breakdown of popular detox diets to help you determine which (or frankly, if) one is right for you!

Know that if you do one, you may not be providing your body with all the necessary nutrients it calls for on the daily (we’re so high maintenance). So be thoughtful about exercise during your cleanse. Food = fuel, and if you’re not fueling your body with enough calories or nutrients, there will be no energy for your workout. Finally, have realistic expectations. You are unlikely to shed 20 pounds in a weekend. You may feel “lighter,” more energetic, and have a clearer mind, but results vary from person to person.

5 Classic Cleanse Options:

1. Dr Oz’s Two-Day Wonder Cleanse

The premise: Eat whole foods that increase enzymes that encourage the body to release toxins. These whole foods also support the detoxifying organs of the body (liver, kidneys, lungs, and colon) to allow them to do their jobs better. However, the Huffington Post isn’t so sure. See what they have to say about Dr. Oz’s detox promises!

2. The Master Cleanse

The premise: All meals are replaced with a solution of purified water with lemon, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup for the duration of 10 days to remove toxins, encourage weight loss, and improve skin, hair, and nails. Follow Jeffery Steingarten, food writer at Vogue, as he “puts The Master Cleanse to the test“—does a hankering for detoxification outweigh hangry?

3. JJ Smith’s 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse

The premise: Meals are replaced with up to 60 ounces of green smoothies containing leafy greens, fruit, and water per day. You may also eat apples, celery, carrots, cucumbers, unsweetened peanut butter, hard-boiled eggs, and nuts/seeds (in small quantities). This cleanse has purported benefits of weight loss, detoxification, increased energy, reduced cravings, and improved digestion.

4. Juice Cleanse

The premise: All meals are replaced with 6 fruit and vegetable juices per day for the duration of 3 – 10 days to remove toxins. Juices may be pre-prepared through a service or made at home. Still uncertain whether a juice cleanse is right for you? Read what Consumer Reports has to say about it and compare popular pre-made juice companies.

5. 3-Day Soup Cleanse

The premise: All meals are replaced with 5 detoxifying soups every day for the duration of 3 days. Advocates say soup retains more fiber and other nutrients and therefore may be more beneficial than juice cleanses. Soup also may allow for better control of blood sugar compared to juice.

It’s always important to involve your health care professional when making changes to your health. Be thoughtful in your approach if considering a cleanse, and treat your body well!

Disclaimer: The statements made in this article are NOT intended to diagnose, treat, or cure disease. Always check with your physician or registered dietitian before making dramatic shifts in your lifestyle.

Sources: Detox Diets for Toxin Elimination and Weight Management:  A Critical Review of Evidence by A.V. Klein and H. Kiat in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics (2014). Examining Popular Detox Diets — Learn About Their Efficacy and Safety for Weight Loss, Their Components, and Potential Adverse Effects by Mary Beth Kavanagh, MS, RDN, LD in Today’s Dietitian: The Magazine for Nutrition Professionals (2016).

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Carly Sippel is a registered yoga teacher, certified life coach, and nutrition nut. She has a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Dietetics from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She turns her passion into practice, promoting healthy bodies in both her personal and professional life.