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Juice diets, cleanse or detox can promote rapid weight loss. But are they safe and effective in the longer term? Express.co.uk spoke to Matt Jones (BSc MSc), B.fresh Juices’ nutritionist about juice diets. 

What is a juicing diet? How does it work? 

All juice diets are based around consuming a variety of juiced fruits and vegetables. Many diets also abstain from eating other foods, and only drinking juice. Some involve eating particular solid foods as well. 

The calorie intake is usually very restricted on juice diets to aid weight loss, and most juice diets are limited to a short period – often between three days and one week.

Do juice diets detox the body? 

Matt explained: “It may be tempting to adopt a detox plan but believe it or not, there is no evidence that a detox diet of juices, shots and soups actually does detox your body. 

“The body has its own detoxification systems that work wonders to keep toxins at bay and our bodies alive. 

“A diet rich in high-quality fruits, vegetables and plant extracts can support these in-built systems, but detox diets or cleanse’s have no added benefit for the removal of toxins than a high-quality diet.”

How much weight can you lose? Do you gain the weight after finishing the juice diet? 

According to Livestrong, “proponents say you can drop 10lbs or more in as little as one week.” 

Matt said: “It’s easy to trick yourself into thinking you have lost weight when in actual fact you have just lost water, gut content, carbohydrate or all of them. 

“The body is roughly 60 to 70 percent water, and daily fluctuations occur which will obviously impact body weight. (This also leads to people getting disheartened, thinking that they have failed sometimes based on the number on the scales, when in actual fact they haven’t.)

“Simply stepping on the scale, then drinking a pint of water, then stepping on the scale again immediately after is the perfect example of that. Your weight will increase, but that’s just water. 

“Similarly we have body fat stores: glycogen where we store carbohydrates and the gut where the content of previous meals can be stored while being digested or waiting to be excreted. I make this point because it’s easy to gain or lose weight rapidly as a result of fluctuations in these different compartments. 

“Every one gram of carbohydrate is stored in the body with three grams of water, so when you remove carbohydrate from the diet (e.g with a low carb diet or ketogenic diet) then you will see a rapid drop in body weight as the water associated with the carbohydrate is lost.

“Hence why people on low carb or keto diets will lose weight quickly in the first week, but then also regain that weight quickly when they reintroduce carbohydrates into their diet. Essentially the water just comes back. 

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“So when following a juice-only diet, the chances are that you will lose weight rapidly as gut content will be reduced, (depending on the type of juice you drink) water will also be lost from glycogen stores. 

“But as soon as you eat food again your weight will likely increase as the fibre content in the gut will increase, glycogen stores will be topped up and so forth. 

“The number on the scale does not paint the full picture, daily fluctuations are absolutely normal, but keeping an eye out for trends over time is the most important thing,” he added. 

Who should avoid juice diets? 

  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding 
  • If you are eldery or under 18 
  • If you are recovering from surgery 
  • If you have a kidney or liver condition 
  • If you have epilepsy 
  • If you have anaemia or low blood pressure 
  • If you have a history of eating disorders 

Note: if you’re considering attempting any form of diet, please consult your GP first to ensure you can do so without risk to health.

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