It always seemed so enticing, what with everyone around me talking about it, doing it and—proudly—completing it. One day for the faint of heart, three days for those looking for a little bit of challenge, and a cringe-worthy five to seven days for the bold and the fearless. We’re talking about juice cleanses, of course.
In the weeks leading up to my Pressed Juicery cleanse, my diet was relatively healthy, with home-cooked meals and roasted veggies on regular rotation—Monday to Thursday, at least. My weekend lifestyle, on the other hand, consisted of libations, processed foods and lots and lots of cheese—not the healthiest choices and ones that definitely didn’t benefit my skin in any way.
Having a skin type that leans toward the dry and sensitive, I’ve always been a strong advocate of a cleanser-toner-oil-serum-moisturizer routine. Prior to the juice cleanse and during it, my go-to products stayed the same: mAvene Micellar Water, Phytomer Rose Water Toner and my trusty, ultra-hydrating Eminence Organics moisturizer, to list a few. What I was really looking forward to was seeing my pre-juicing blemishes vanish before my eyes.
The research on the benefits of juice cleansing is all over the place—from studies backing “positive transformations” to articles citing them as “nutritionally compromising and harmful.” Here is some of the conflicting info I’ve gathered:
PRO: Breaks the cycle of dependence on simple carbohydrates, saturated fats, processed foods, alcohol and caffeine. —Woodson Merrell, M.D.
CON: The gastrointestinal tract is set up to naturally detox, and this is done through eating fibrous foods. —Tricia Psota, nutritionist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
PRO: Promotes weight loss and rehydrates the body. —W. Merrell, M.D.
CON: It may all be water weight loss. —Dana Hunnes, a nutritionist at UCLA Medical Center
PRO: Most people begin to feel much more energy and clarity than they ever did with frequent caffeine drinks. —W. Merrell, M.D.
CON: The burst of energy can be contributed to the high sugar content juice and/or the placebo effect. —D. Hunnes
All in all, there seems to be an argument against every claim that supports juice cleanses and vice versa. The only way to find out which argument checks out is to try juice cleansing for myself—so that’s what I did. I purchased Pressed Juicery’s 3-Day Cleanse 1. For your amusement and knowledge, here’s how my experience went.
I started the day feeling very sluggish and blurry-eyed from lack of morning espresso. After my first two juices, the first thing I noticed was feeling chills; my familiar office environment seemed colder than usual. I wouldn’t say I was surprised, as co-workers who did a juice cleanse in the past also had similar experiences: sleepiness and grumpiness as well as some less-than-desirable side effects like headaches and chills. There was also a lot of yawning and frequent bathroom breaks.
Juices vary in taste: Some are harder to drink due to overwhelming taste of nothing but vegetables. Although I was tempted to stray more than a few times, I remained diligent and polished off 48 ounces of water during work and half the chlorophyll water (provided in the kit). By the end of the day, my aqua intake was 50 ounces of regular water, a bottle of chlorophyll water and a bottle of aloe vera water.
Surprisingly, I didn’t feel noticeably grumpy, and the people around me didn’t seem to notice I was even on a cleanse! I was definitely missing the feeling of chewing food and developed a heightened sense of scent—particularly the aroma of food.
I wasn’t necessarily hungry, nor did I notice stomach rumbles, but I did cave and munch on a handful of almonds and carrot sticks.
The first thing I noticed on day 2 was feeling less tired (but I also cheated with a few sips of cold brew). There were some not-so-pleasant feelings of muscle stiffness, probably due to the lack of exercise prior to starting the cleanse. My sense of smell was heightened more than ever! A co-worker’s morning eggs smelled so strong that I thought it was chili. That recertified a gnawing feeling that something in my life was “missing.” And as for my skin, it was actually feeling more dry and looking a little pale. There were a few juice cleanse review articles mentioning that during the detox phase your skin gets worse before it gets better. I kept up with my water intake and juices, with only minor carrot and almond detours.
This day took me by total surprise. I woke up with energy and without an alarm!
There were no cravings to drink coffee, and I got ready for work already feeling alert. The mild feelings of muscle stiffness, weakness and irritation were not as noticeable. No more real feelings of “hunger” or stomach grumblings, but I was still missing the feeling of chewing food. I also didn’t really experience the lethargic feeling I had on day 1 or day 2. My stomach was looking and feeling slightly less “fluid bloated” than it did on day 1 and 2! Alas, my skin showed small signs of breaking out with itchiness and subtle bumps.
All in all, day 3 supported the juice cleanse frenzy. It might just be worth the small struggles.
As someone with somewhat healthy eating habits, horrible weekend habits and zero motivation to work out, this cleanse wasn’t unbearably challenging. Day 1 was definitely the worst for me, but I’ve heard day 2 being much harder for others. My skin looked pretty much the same—probably due to my consistent regimen—but my face did appear a bit sunken in. Clothes pretty much fit the same, and my weight stayed the same, but I’d say my stomach visibly flattened a bit.
The real motivator in this was how I felt post-cleanse—energized, calm and rebalanced! After this experience, I am actually open to trying the intermediate and advanced cleanses to reboot every now and then…after the proper preparation.