Liquid fasts, from the squeezed-to-order Blueprint Cleanse to L.O.V.E. (Live, Organic, Vegan Experience), are the next big thing (again). But the latest crop of detox diets isn’t necessarily about losing weight—though that’s still part of it—it’s about kick-starting a healthier lifestyle. Think of it as dieting 2.0.
While you’re eliminating junk food, caffeine and alcohol from the mix, the premise behind juicing is that it frees up the body’s energy to engage in deep cleaning.
“The energy normally spent on breaking down a sandwich, a Twinkie or even a big healthy salad can now be redirected to helping the body ‘clean house,’” Blueprint Cleanse founder Zoe Sakoutis says. “We like to think of it as a way to press the re-set button and start with a clean slate.” More specifically, Sakoutis says juicing can boost your immune system, improve thyroid function, alleviate allergies and increase energy, not to mention giving your sex drive a jump.
But nutritionists aren’t sold on the benefits of a juice-only diet. For one, there’s no real physiological evidence to support the idea that your body goes into a warp-like cleaning overdrive, or that guzzling liquid seaweed will draw out stored toxins. “Your liver, kidneys, skin and digestive tract do a pretty darn good job at ridding excess toxins daily,” says Christy Maskeroni, the director of nutrition at CLAY, a cutting-edge holistic health club in New York City.
Holly Brewer, a Canyon Ranch nutritionist for the past eight years and the pediatric dietitian on staff at Sunrise Hospital, isn’t drinking the Kool-Aid, either. “While these drinks are adding more calories, they’re still not complete. Anytime you squeeze a fruit, you’re basically just getting water and carbohydrates. The vast majority of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables come from the solid mass.” Bottom line, Brewer says: “Eat your fruit; don’t drink it.” Still, Maskeroni and Brewer admit that some people need to go cold turkey before they can build back to a balanced diet. “A juice cleanse may help jumpstart the desire for a healthier lifestyle,” Maskeroni says.
“It’s not a miracle cure,” Brewer says, “but one to two days won’t hurt you.”