Once reserved for the wealthy wellness scene, it seems like everyone and their mother is doing, has done, or is planning to do a juice cleanse these days. With juice shops popping up on every corner and grocery stores stocking up on green drinks, the idea of temporarily replacing meals with sippable nutrients has become increasingly popular. That's because juice cleansing ups your intake vitamins, antioxidants, and phytonutrients while giving your digestive system a break and helping rid your body of junk. If you’re considering the cleanse craze, just make sure you don't make one of these five common mistakes. Here, the pitfalls that can derail your goals — and what to do instead.
Mistake 1: Maintaining your regular workout schedule
Now’s not the time for an intense exercise regimen, even if you’re in great shape and used to working out hard. “You’re consuming significantly fewer calories than normal during a juice cleanse, so you need to take it easy on your body,” cautions Jessica Rosen, co-founder of Raw Generation and certified holistic health coach. “It’s common to think that you can push yourself the way you normally do when working out, but you need to give yourself a break while cleansing,” she adds. With that being said, a cleanse is not a free pass to glue yourself to the couch. If you’re feeling good, some low-intensity activity is encouraged. Rosen’s suggestions: walking, yoga (not hot), swimming, and pilates.
Mistake 2: Quitting coffee cold turkey
On most cleanses, caffeine is a no-no, but if you’re used to drinking full-strength coffee every day, make sure you don’t quit cold, says Rosen. Instead, switch to black (that means no milk, flavored creamers, sugar, or sugar substitutes of any kind) a few days prior to the start of your cleanse, so that cutting it out isn’t as painful. And, ideally, if you’re really planning ahead, you can gradually wean yourself off in the month leading up to the cleanse. Rosen advises slowly increasing the amount of decaf you drink; 25 percent decaf the first week, 50 percent the second, 75 percent the third, entirely decaf the fourth. If you absolutely must get a caffeine fix while juicing, opt for green tea over coffee.
Mistake 3: Sneaking in some alcohol
Hey, it’s a liquid, so it doesn’t count as eating (or cheating), right? Wrong. “Drinking can totally cripple both your cleansing and weight loss goals,” notes Rosen, who points out that it not only slows your metabolism but also delivers empty calories with zero nutritional value. Plus, consuming even low amounts of alcohol when there is no food in your stomach can cause you to become impaired faster. Clear your social calendar for the period of time you’re cleansing to avoid the temptation to booze. It’s only a few days. You can do it.
Mistake 4: Noshing on nuts while you cleanse
Many cleanses will recommend snacking on raw nuts if you absolutely feel the need to eat or chew, but raw fruits and veggies are the best bet if you are going to “cheat” during the juice-only phase, says Rosen. Choose ones with a high-water content (cucumber, celery, watermelon) and keep servings small, so as to not overload your digestive system.
Mistake 5: Falling right back into your old eating patterns
Whether your reason for cleansing was detoxing, weight loss, or both, the period immediately post-cleanse is the best time to reset your diet and incorporate healthier food choices, says Rosen. “All results are contingent upon making healthier decisions after the cleanse is over,” she adds. Not to mention that going from juice only to a big ol’ bowl of pasta or a burger and fries is not going to feel so good on your stomach. Your best bet is to think ahead: “Have an eating plan in place before you finish your cleanse. If you’re stocked with healthy foods and know what you need to be cutting out, it makes coming off a cleanse — and maintaining your results — so much easier,” explains Rosen.
Specifically, that means loading up on raw fruits, veggies, juices, smoothies, and vegetable-based soups on the first day you’re back to solids. During days two through five, gradually start incorporating meats and fish back in, and listen to your body as you slowly start to add back other foods. Still, Rosen advises trying to steer clear of grains, dairy, processed foods, and alcohol for at least five days afterward, since these will all, “reverse your cleanse results quickly, and leave you feeling bloated, groggy, and lacking energy.”