It seems like people have been looking for “quick weight loss tips” forever. Remember the cabbage soup diet? Those sneakers that claimed to tone your backside while you stood still? And, of course, there are juice cleanses, a quick-fix weight-loss method that, to this day, many people believe is the best way to lose weight.
While fruits and veggies are certainly part of a healthy diet, trying to “reset” or “detox” your body by drinking only juices for a set period of time can actually get in the way of long-term weight loss. We spoke with Dr. Charlie Seltzer, a physician based in Philadelphia board certified in obesity medicine, and Dr. Candice Seti, a licensed clinical psychologist and certified nutrition coach in San Diego, to get to the heart of why juice cleanses may not be helpful on your weight-loss journey.
Water Weight and Emotional Issues
According to Dr. Seltzer, one of the key reasons a juice cleanse may not be a helpful weight-loss method is that it doesn’t directly address the issues that caused your weight gain in the first place. “If you’re in a room with a lion and you shut your eyes,” says Seltzer, “the lion will still be there when you open them.”
He goes on to point out that even if you do end up losing some weight on a juice cleanse, most of that weight won’t be fat: “The majority of pounds you lose on any kind of short-term cleanse will be mostly water weight, and when you go back to any semblance of your normal diet, you will most likely gain that weight back.” This yo-yoing aspect can create disappointment and frustration, which can infringe on motivation.
Another big reason why juice cleanses can be a drain on an otherwise-healthy weight-loss process? Cleanses that last longer than a day “usually require some degree of social isolation,” says Seltzer. When you have to avoid meals with friends and family, or parties/nights out on the town, you may start to feel bored or stressed out, which can lead to overeating.
Juice Cleanses and Proper Nutrition
Proper nutrition is another big issue around juice cleanses.
“Unfortunately, juicing a piece of fruit removes the fiber,” says Dr. Seti. “Fiber is immensely valuable for regularity, digestion, and feelings of fullness.” Additionally, “peeling the skin from a piece of fruit (like an apple) can decrease its vitamin and antioxidant content.”
Protein is another nutrient that helps to keep us full, and it also helps to maintain muscle mass. If your juice cleanse lasts longer than a day, “you will likely not be meeting your daily requirements for protein,” says Seti, which can lead to feelings of hunger.
Some people embark on juice cleanses as a way to “detox” their bodies, rather than to simply lose weight, but as Dr. Seti explains, our bodies do that just fine on their own!
“You may hear a lot about the value of juice cleanses, but the fact is that there is no real scientific evidence to back it up. Your body has a built-in detoxification system (the liver, intestines, and kidneys). We don't really need help in this area.”
The Bottom Line
As with most “quick fixes,” juice cleanses may actually end up impeding your healthy journey rather than helping it. While consistency and commitment aren’t flashy words, they are the true keys to losing weight — and keeping it off.