The start of the new year almost always brings the urge to start anew — an attempt to leave behind our most unsavory habits. And for most of us, being healthy is at the top of that list. Juice cleanses are a very popular way to give the body that new year fresh start. But despite their immense popularity Jessica Jones an MS, RD, CDE and co-creator of Food Heaven Made Easy, a podcast and digital platform, wants everyone to think twice before guzzling green juices.
Juice cleanses, the process of pressing out or extracting the liquid naturally found in fruits and vegetables, are nothing new, in fact, they have been around for centuries. And it seems like nearly everyone who has tried one raves about feeling great post-cleanse, so juicing seems like an ideal reboot option in a short period of time.
But according to Jones, that may not be entirely true.
“As a registered dietitian, I typically don’t recommend juices or cleanses to my client, ” she says. “The truth is, there is no real evidence that cleanses live up to the claims. Juicing also eliminates virtually all of the fiber found in the fruits and vegetables.”
Fiber, a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest, has a ton of health benefits such as regulating our blood sugar levels, keeping us regular and helping us feel full and satisfied. So ridding your diet of fiber for three, five or even seven days probably isn’t the best idea.
“Many of my patients who have done juice cleanses report feeling tired and weak during the cleanse. This is likely because they are not getting enough calories to support their metabolic needs while on the juice cleanse. They may also be lacking certain nutrients, such as fat and protein during this time,” Jones warns.
If you’re absolutely committed to the idea of juicing, opt for those that contain non-starchy vegetables like cucumbers, spinach and kale. Also look for juices with minimal amounts of sugar. “As a general rule of thumb, try to make your juice three parts non-starchy vegetables for every one part fruit or starchy vegetable (think beets and carrots),” suggests Jones.
If we had to guess the best thing to do this January to help you achieve (and stick with!) your health goals all year long is to follow Jones’ advice, “I believe in a sustainable diet and lifestyle that does not involve short-term fixes or deprivation. My motto is that healthy eating should be both enjoyable and flexible.”