Run with an Idea #3 Juice cleanses – healthy or hype?

This fortnight’s topic for Run with an Idea is juice cleanses – healthy or hype?


If like me you recently watched Fat Sick and Nearly Dead then you may have been tempted to go out and buy a juicer and get on board the juicing train. The film followed the 60-day journey of Australian Joe Cross across the United States as he followed a juice fast to regain his health.

It was certainly an inspiring story with some remarkable results. And yet a few weeks on from watching it I don’t own a juicer, and there won’t be one on my shopping list any day soon. So why not?

Very simply – I don’t feel that I need to!

This year I discovered the concept of ‘eating clean’ – cutting out processed food and eating food in as close to it’s natural state as possible. Lots of lean protein alongside plenty of vegetables and fruit. Eating this way has had a dramatic effect on my body – I no longer experience energy swings or afternoon dips that I used to suffer from when my diet was largely made up of processed carbohydrate.

Discovering this way of eating has felt like something of a light bulb moment for me. It makes for a tasty and satisfying diet – I feel fuller for longer and am giving my body all the nutrients it needs from fresh, unprocessed food. I feel so much better than I did when my diet consisted of toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and a bowl of pasta for dinner.

I can understand why a juice cleanse might appeal to people. Especially if they’re trying to kick start a weight loss campaign or ‘reset’ themselves with the cleanse. But for me, there’s no need to go to such extreme measures. Stop eating crap and guess what – you’ll stop feeling like crap!

A healthy, clean diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is good enough. And it’s sustainable in a way that I doubt drinking just juice for a long period of time really is. You’d have to be incredibly motivated by something like a life threatening illness – as was the case in Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, to be able to keep up the ‘just juice’ long term.

Also my exercise regime these days is all about building muscle to help reduce my body fat. To help that I need to make sure that my diet has plenty of protein. Eggs, chicken, fish, and lean red meat all feature regularly.  Fruit and veg have little protein in comparison so consuming nothing but juice for any sustained period of time just wouldn’t be helping me towards my health and fitness goals.

So I’m going to label the juice cleanse as hype. And I wonder how many people who rushed out to buy a juicer having watched the film, will still be using it in six months time? If I were a betting woman I’d put my money on less than 25%.

As ever, this is just my opinion and I know there will be plenty of other people who swear by juicing and it’s health benefits. So if that’s you, or if you agree with me then leave me a comment and let me know.


Comment on this post or any of the other juice cleanse posts on the Run With An Idea website to be in with a chance to win a prize! This weeks prize is a copy of the Innocent Smoothie Recipe Book, which includes recipes for juices and smoothies – if you’re into the juicing thing of course 😉

6 thoughts

  1. I didn’t see the documentary but have seen a lot of juice cleanses popping up on blogs and I too an unconvinced. I think that healthy changes to diets are manageable without going to an extreme such as a juice fast (which probably leads you to a higher risk of bingeing, or screws your metabolism up so that when you reintroduce food you put any weight lost back on) and actually sustained small changes are more likely to last. I admittedly once ‘tried’ a juice cleanse and lasting until the afternoon… I have no idea how people maintain it with running etc.?!

    1. Hi Lucy – I fast for 16hrs quite regularly and exercise while fasted too and find that fine. But then I eat really well for the rest of the time. I really don’t understand how people follow juice cleanses long term and still manage to exercise effectively. I’m all for sensible sustainable changes, not quick fixes.

  2. Becca,
    I’m with you. Eating clean is a much better way to manage your health, weight etc. While I do have a smoothie most mornings (banana, berries, oats, honey), it’s only that meal. My other meals have ‘substance’, and crucially, protein in them. Surely a diet of only whizzed up fruit and veg would leave your body completely lacking in protein, which would make recovery from exercise very difficult? I would also worry about what would happen when coming off a juice only diet – most of the things being juiced provide sugars in simple carbohydrate – wouldn’t there be a ‘crash’ as your body tries to get used to lower sugar levels in food and a possible ‘bounce’ where the body starts storing fat in response to what it now perceives as a ‘lower sugar environment’.

    1. Breakfast smoothies are a different thing I think and a good way to quickly take in some nutrients in the morning. I’m a fan, not every day, but a good option now and then. Yours sound nice – I’d probably chuck some protein powder in for good measure 🙂

      I definitely don’t understand how people manage to exercise and sustain themselves on a juice cleanse. There are certain amino acids which we have to take in in our diet as I understand it and I’m pretty sure they’re not present in fruit or veg. The sugar aspect also concerns me. Juicing up 4 or 5 pieces of fruit is a huge dose of sugar in one go. With no protein and little fibre to balance it out I would have thought it would play havoc with your insulin levels?

      1. You caught me out! I drop a scoop or two of whey powder in my smoothies as well, especially if I’ve been running before breakfast.

        I’d fall apart if I tried to go through a day on fruit and veg juices only! I notice the ‘slump’ in the afternoon if I’ve had too many carbs in my normal lunch. I’d hate to think what I’d be like after a juice lunch. Cranky and irritable for a start I reckon!

        Your comment about insulin levels is an interesting one. I reckon you would be making your body work harder with the fruit based sugar input in each juice!

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