Get ready to love the body you’re in! This month we join our cover girl Serena Williams in celebrating our bodies while staying healthy and fit!

If you’re ready to recharge your health this summer, why not get a jumpstart with a 3-5 day juice cleanse. Given the popularity of convenience programs soaring in recent years (celebrities like Beyoncé and Oprah have even dabbled), reported benefits such as relieving stress, increasing energy, and even curbing cravings have made it the ultimate must-try body remedy.

While the start of a new year is often the most obvious time to trade in the weekly dose of fries for fruit, switching to healthier eating habits can be done year-round. “Cleansing or detoxing the body seasonally or as often as once a month works great for anyone looking to boost energy or heal the body,” says Koya Webb, a holistic and wellness expert in Los Angeles. “The body is put under massive stress daily from environmental toxins, food contaminants and emotional baggage, so a little TLC can go a long way.”

But before you break out the juicer, advises Webb, do a bit of research. Have a plan before diving in so that you can decide which type of cleanse is right for you. Some juice cleanse programs are strictly all juice, while others may offer a combination of juice and meals—complete with dessert! Still think your body needs more solids to thrive? A few of the juicing plans do allow snacking of low-sugar fruits, soaked nuts and herbal teas.

Embarking on a cleanse means you need to prep prior to its start. If this is your first body detox, consider the time it’ll take to ease your body into this new shift in your diet. “Ideally, you want a cleanse that works with your lifestyle,” says Webb. Many programs recommend cutting out caffeine (good-bye morning cup of coffee), dairy, red meat, sugar, white flour, oats, alcohol, soy products, processed foods (like crackers, cookies, chips) and condiments at least a few days before you begin the cleanse.

“Many people turn to cleanses because they feel off—they’re bloated and sluggish, dependent on caffeine and junk food cravings, breaking out,” says Stephanie Middleberg, a New York City registered dietitian.” When you eliminate toxins from your system, your entire body feels better and reacts both internally and externally.” At the same time, advises Middleberg, participating in a cleanse shouldn’t mean depriving your body of what you love.

Experts also warn it is best to consult with a physician before making any sudden changes in your diet. Suffer from diabetes? Consult with your doctor on which cleanse options may be right for you before committing.

Still not quite sure where to begin? Stay tuned this week as our ESSENCE staff road-tests five of the most popular juice cleanses on the market!

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