A nutritionist’s view on the juice detox diet in 2024 - is it something we'd recommend?

Emma White - Nutritionist | 10 Jun, 2024

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Over the years, juice detox dieting has become one of the many crazes that some people swear by to achieve their weight loss goals and 'cleanse' their bodies. But is it something that we, the nutrition community, will ever endorse? We look at how this diet works in more detail.

Why all the hype?

'Lose 7lbs in 7 days' is just one of a whole raft of claims linked to the juice diet. It's a big promise and why wouldn't someone wanting to lose weight quickly find it appealing? The juice detox diet claims to be a quick and simple way to lose weight and feel better by just swapping your normal diet for a range of delicious juices. Fruit and vegetable juices that are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants 'cleanse' the body and get rid of toxins leaving you feeling full of energy, healthier and with clear skin. What's not to like?

The problem is that if you only eat fruits and vegetables, whilst you may be getting loads of vitamins and minerals, you'll be missing out on other essential nutrients including protein, fat, complex carbohydrates, as well as micronutrients such as calcium.

detox diet

Is there any evidence that juicing works?

In simple terms – no. There is no scientific data to show any long-term benefits of juicing. Our bodies are natural 'detox' machines – there is no need to perform a deep clean of the body in order for it to function normally, and in fact detoxing in its purest sense is not achievable simply through drinking a juice. Of course making healthier choices with your diet, being physically active, not smoking and drinking plenty of water are essential to keep your body as healthy as possible, but we don't need to exclusively drink juice to get the same effect. Detox diets have been branded as a 'marketing myth' by leading dietitians and scientists and looking at the plethora of detox plans, and books out there I think I might agree!

In our view, weight loss shouldn't be something that is a quick fix – it should be a lifelong change in attitude and habits, resulting in a healthier person forever. The lack of evidence for the juice diet means that it's not something that we can support, however we will of course be keeping an eye on emerging science in case anything changes on this front. Certainly a few days of juicing may well result in pounds dropped on the scales but it's very likely that going back on a 'normal' diet will mean it piling back on again. Sticking with juicing is also tricky from a social point of view – food is to be enjoyed.

What if I still want to try it?

If you do try juicing then there's no harm in including it as part of an overall healthy and balanced diet. Some people find having a juice packed full of fruits and vegetables (with some oils, seeds or nuts in perhaps) can be a healthy start to the day. However, substituting all your food with juice is quite a drastic move, and I would recommend only doing it for a maximum of a few days. Following a period of juicing make sure you introduce food gradually, and don't overdo it straight away. You may find it takes a few days to get back to normal eating habits.

detox diet

What should I watch out for?

Only consuming juices made from fruit and veg will most likely cause a very low calorie intake due to the lower-calorie nature of these ingredients, which in turn could lead to under-fuelling our bodies, making us feel very hungry. Your digestive system is used to having solid food, so juice may not provide the satisfaction that you get from a normal meal. Whilst fruit provides a good source of antioxidants and vitamins and is a valued aspect of a balanced diet, it is high in natural sugars, so aim for the majority of your juices to be vegetable-based. Try and use mainly vegetables in your juice to help balance things out a little. A lack of solid food may play havoc with your insides too so expect some changes in bowel movements.

Exercising may also be an issue if you are only drinking juice. If you are someone who exercises a lot, this may not be right for you. The very low calorie intake that you'll get from just drinking juice is not enough to maintain you through a gym session or exercise class, so just be careful about what activities you choose.

The final word

The juice detox diet may well result in rapid weight loss, but there is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support it as a long-term weight loss tool.

Why make weight loss harder than it needs to be? Many people seem to feel that unless a diet is difficult and quite unpleasant, it can't possibly work. But this just isn’t the case - you can eat everything, even when on a diet, just in moderation.

Nutritionist Emma White (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.

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