You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about juice cleanses for weight loss.  In theory, a juice cleanse works by restricting the diet for several days or longer, substituting regular food for fruit or vegetable-based juice blends that are super low in calories. However, while juice can be a healthy addition to a person’s diet extreme juice diet regimens may not be healthy at all. Here are some guidelines for juicing safely.

Keep it quick

A juice cleanse lasting several days can kick-start your diet and a cleanse regimen that is nutritionally sound can produce weight loss without leaving you exhausted and ravenously hungry. I developed a mini juice cleanse program for my clients that combines nutrient-dense juices and a simple eating plan that includes healthful, filling foods, and in less than a week you can expect to lose about 5 pounds.

Steer clear of any juice cleanse that lasts more than a week. Extreme juice cleanses are way too restrictive and they can deplete your body of important nutrients that are essential for good health. People who do extreme juice cleanses on a regular basis not only risk serious bodily harm, they can also permanently slow their metabolism and make weight control difficult for years to come.

Keep it nutritious

While fruits and vegetables can be packed with nutrition, the juicing process often removes parts like the skin and seeds where nutrients are concentrated. What’s left may taste good and provide some nutritional benefit, but it won’t have much fiber and a juice cleanse that’s lacking in fiber will surely leave you hungry – and set you up to overeat (and regain weight) once your cleanse is over.

Juices are apt to be lacking in protein and fat, which your body absolutely needs to function properly.  Protein is essential for building and maintaining healthy muscle tissue, which is your body’s calorie and fat burning machine. If you work out, protein is essential for repairing muscle tissue damaged during exercise. Fat is vital in your diet for proper vitamin absorption and for healthy skin and hair.  The juice cleanse program I offer my clients uses juices in which most of the nutrients from the whole foods are preserved, and it includes light meals and snacks that provide protein and healthy fats.

Be realistic

No juice cleanse program is a cure-all for a lifestyle of overeating.  Yes, a short juice cleanse may be fine once or twice each year as a jump-start to a healthy weight loss diet that’s nutritionally sound.  But a juice cleanse cannot help you take off a lot of weight in a healthy way.  In truth, there’s little reason to go on a juice cleanse at all if you make eat fruits and vegetables part of your everyday life.  

For delicious high fiber meal plans, recipes and tips on healthy eating, drinking and losing weight, check out my latest book, The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber!

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a registered dietitian in New York City and the bestselling author of The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with fiber as well as the F-Factor Diet. Follow Tanya on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and register for new weekly newsletter by visiting her website

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.

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