Hollywood's hottest love to juice up with a cleanse – it's their red-carpet-ready remedy when they need to lose weight and look their best. While detoxes and extreme diets like the Master Cleanse can be controversial, advocates say juice cleanses made from raw fruits and veggies are safe as long as you check in with your doctor first and keep it to three days at a time.
New Year's is an obvious time to try a juice cleanse. Detoxes shift you away from bad habits (like excessive intake of coffee, alcohol, and fatty or sugary foods) and can help foster healthier habits even once we’re off them, according to Cathy Wong, ND, naturopathic doctor and an American College of Nutrition–certified nutrition specialist.
Short term, there may be some health benefits. “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-based registered dietitian. “When you eliminate toxins from your system, your entire body feels better and reacts both internally and externally.” At the same time, Middleberg stresses that these cleanses shouldn't be about starving yourself or feeling deprived.
Skeptics, including Glenn Braunstein, MD, professor and chairman, department of medicine, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, say our bodies have built-in detoxifiers and don’t require “cleansing.” Most experts also warn that no one should expect lasting weight loss using this method.
Your move: Try your own home-grown cleanse using juices and smoothies. Or spend a bit more for the convenience of some of the country's most popular brands below:
Process These 100% USDA certified organic juices are bottled using this high-pressure, heatless procedure that supposedly extends freshness for up to 13 days in a fridge. Choose from three levels of intensity – ranging from beginner to expert – that differ according to the ratio of green juices to fruit juices (more green, more hardcore).
Plans Three, five or 10 days, six juices per day, including sweet cashew milk and a super-filling beet-red concoction.
Cost $65 to $80 per day*
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Cool Fact Drink your salad: A 16-ounce bottle of the lightly tart green juice has six pounds of leafy greens include, romaine, celery, spinach, kale and parsley, plus cucumber, apple and lemon to help lower acidity and balance your pH.
RD Says A real salad may be better for you. “When juicing, you lose out on some of the fiber content found in whole fruits and vegetables,” Middleberg says. “But a benefit of juicing is that it gives your digestion system a break from working so hard to process a large meal.”
Process Locally-sourced, when available in New York, these juices are bottled using a hydraulic press – a machine that squashes an entire fruit or vegetable into a pulp – that guarantees freshness when chilled for up to three days.
Plans One, three and five days, six juices per day with a combined caloric intake of ~1,200 daily calories, including a satiating almond nut milk, a refreshing pineapple & ginger, and a chalky hemp (exclusive to one-day cleanses).
Cost $58 to $72 per day*
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Cool Fact If you're nervous about cutting out solids completely, ease into an all-liquid diet with the Raw Cooler food plan, which combines fresh juices with a snack, such as chia seed tapioca or apple pie, and a healthy entree, like cashew cheese ravioli or maki rolls.
RD Says “I like how you have the option to do a cleanse without completely eliminating food,” Middleberg says. “Restriction and being miserable isn't the point, so many people may be more successful with the Raw Cooler food plan. The meals sound unrefined, natural, free of allergens and well-portioned. But if you have a sensitive stomach, some of these raw foods may be tough for you to digest.”
LIFE JUICE CLEANSE
Process These cold-pressed juices, made in the Midwest, are frozen to preserve raw nutrition and antioxidants without pasteurization. Bottles stay fresh for up to three days after being defrosted.
Plans Three days, six juices per day, including a Citrus Sole (bottle #1) that's whipped up with purified water, lemon juice and Himalayan sea salt, which is said to promote body absorption of nutrients while replenishing electrolytes and adding valuable minerals.
Cost $60 to $180 per day*
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Cool Fact How's this for a gut reaction: Knocking back both the Citrus Sole (#1) and Toasty Spiced Almond (#6) at room temperature or warmed can stimulate your digestive tract and get things going, if you know we mean.
RD Says “Himalayan sea salt may help the body digest, in theory, but its hard to determine how food individually affects the entire body,” Middleberg says. “We eat and drink in combinations, plus other factors, like genetics, metabolism and the environment play a role in our overall health. You could make the argument that a lot of 'cleansing' agents promote body absorption of nutrients.”
Claim Thanks to a cold-press process called the Norwalk method (it kills fewer nutrients than traditional, heat-based ways to extract juice), these drinks made in New York City may contain three to five times more vitamins, minerals and enzymes than other brands using a different procedure. Shelf-life, however, remains the same – they only last up to three days when refrigerated.
Plans One, three, five and seven days, four to eight juices per day, including three different levels (green juices again dictate the newbie to pro range) and a “Juice 'Till Dinner” option. On-hand “cleansing coaches” will help you choose which plan is best for your lifestyle, dietary habits and goals.
Cost $33 to $65 per day*
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Cool Fact Get your freak on: Countless customers – both men and women – have admitted to seeing a boost in their libido after doing a cleanse. One possible reason for these ravenous-in-other-ways results is that these juices may stimulate alkalinity (and reduce acidity), which can improve sex drive.
RD Says “I've heard of the Norwalk method, but I honestly don't know if it does actually produce a better quality juice,” Middleberg says. “It just sounds like they're using an extra fancy juicer.” As for feeling frisky: “When people feel good – not puffy, gassy, tired or agitated – their sex drive tends to go up, so I believe it.”
Process Using a nine-ton hydraulic press in their production kitchen in Long Island City, NY, these juices are made with organic and OU Kosher ingredients. They're packaged in distinctly bulbous reusable glass or biodegradable bottles.
Plans One, three and five days, six juices per day, including an additional shot-sized Chlorophyll elixir (the hard-to-swallow green stuff stains teeth at first but washes out easy) and silky smooth drinks, like the sweet and earthy Seasonal Red Juice Winter (made with beet, pineapple and pear juice). LOVE*deep is the only cleanse in the line that's available nationwide. Call the Cleanse Concierge and ask about LOVE*support for extra tips from resident lifestyle coaches.
Cost $70 for bio bottles, $90 for glass bottles per day*
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Cool Fact It's not just about giving back to your body, but also your community. Right after Hurricane Sandy devastated the Northeast in late October, Manhattan's City Harvest received a donation of $5000 worth of Organic Avenue Spring Water for the local relief effort.
RD Says The green stuff is gold. “Chlorophyll supposedly oxygenates the body, improves circulation and decreases inflammation,” Middleberg says. “But you can get your fill of it eating green foods, like asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, celery, green beans and kale. You don't need to take it as a shot.”
Process Every day, 20 pounds of 100% certified organic produce gets cold-pressed into biodegradable bottles at their Irvine, CA facilities using the reputable Norwalk method.
Plans Three, five and 10 days, six bottles per day, including a mix of chlorophyll-rich green blends, alkalizing lemonades, sweet juice blends and nutty milks. Choose from two types of programs: the Seasonal or Classic Reset. The difference is the number of green juices (three versus four). You can also customize a plan with the help of Ritual's customer service.
Cost $80 per day*
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Cool Fact Can't imagine giving up gym time for this long? Don't! For an extra $15 per day, add two “Shred” juices – consisting of a pre- and post-workout drink – to your liquid menu. Each is designed to enhance fitness performance and promote muscle recovery.
RD Says “I love drinking smoothies before or after hitting the gym. These Shred drinks should be OK, too, as long as they have an adequate amount of protein and carbs to replenish and repair muscles afterward,” Middleberg says.
*Cost does not including shipping and handling fees.