Posted: Mar 14, 2014 10:00 AM
Cleanses have become a huge fad in the healthy living community. They can help detox your body and kick start it into a new, more health-conscious diet, while breaking you of old habits and cravings and replacing them with healthier ones. But not all health enthusiasts advocate the use of cleanses. Here we discuss the pros, the cons and which cleanses may work for your lifestyle.

Why cleanse?

Many look to a cleanse as a promise for a better future, health wise. Rid your body of toxins, kick cravings to the curb and get yourself on the road to a new diet that contains more whole fruits and veggies. Most are looking to jump start a healthy eating regimen, but the promise to lose a few pounds is definitely an upside. Others decide to do it for the sole purpose of losing a quick seven to 10 pounds, maybe before a trip or a special event. Still others use it as a way to get back on track after a few too many indulgences on vacation or during the holidays.

It is important to consult your doctor before starting a cleanse, to make sure your current state of health is appropriate and that the drastic change in diet won’t affect absorption of any medications.

The problem is that many look to this fad as a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Before starting a cleanse, it’s important to ask yourself what your goals are. Are you looking to reduce your sugar intake, decrease unhealthy cravings and maintain a healthy diet after the cleanse? Or are you just looking to drop a few pounds as quickly as possible?

Whatever your goals, it is important to consult your doctor before starting a cleanse, to make sure your current state of health is appropriate and that the drastic change in diet won’t affect absorption of any medications.

Types of cleanses

The Master Cleanse

The Master Cleanse, also known as the Lemonade Diet, has been touted by celebrities such as Beyonce and Demi Moore. This cleanse detoxes your system with a liquid-only diet of water mixed with lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup. Users are encouraged to drink the lemonade mix whenever they feel hungry, at least eight glasses a day, with claims that in 10 days or more, you will feel energetic, happy, healthy, with fewer cravings for unhealthy food.

Surviving on glorified lemonade for 10 days or more is not for the faint of stomach. And while the Master Cleanse will likely aid in losing weight due to low calorie intake, users may also experience muscle and bone loss. Experts warn that the pounds will likely creep right back on after the cleanse.

The juice cleanse

Joe Cross’s 2010 documentary Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead put juicing on the map. In the film, Cross admits to being over 100 pounds overweight and suffering from a slew of health problems. Over the next 60 days, he drank only fresh fruit and vegetable drinks that he juiced himself, all while traversing the country and talking to Americans about health.

With a good amount of planning, a juice cleanse can be successful in eliminating cravings and giving your taste buds an appreciation for real foods as opposed to processed. Be aware that some juice cleanses contain high amounts of sugars, lack in healthy fats and proteins and may not be any more effective than just eating raw foods by themselves.

The raw food cleanse

Why not take those fruits and veggies and put them on a plate instead of in a juicer? The actual act of eating may cause some to feel more sated, adding to the effectiveness of craving elimination. Avoiding processed foods and eating raw, natural fruits, vegetables and legumes can lead to increased energy and weight loss.

With a great amount of planning and research, users can conduct this cleanse and add good variety to their diet. But are you up for the challenge? Ask yourself if you plan on continuing to cook regularly for your family, or if you currently depend on eating out often, as dining choices will be severely limited.

Pre-made cleanses

Busy cleanse seekers may not have time to conduct all of the intense planning that goes along with a fruit and vegetable cleanse. Companies like Skinny Limits offer pre-made juice cleanse packages in several varieties, according to the customers' tastes and goals. What could be easier than placing an order and picking your juices up, complete with instructions on which ones to drink and when?

Like the DIY juices, users should be aware of how much sugar their pre-made juices contain. Some may add excessive fruit sugars for flavor, to make the cleanse a little more tolerable. And like the other options, juice cleanses can be a way to lose weight quickly, but not necessarily long term. Once off the cleanse, some users fall back into old eating habits and the pounds find their way back.

So should you cleanse?

Cleanses definitely have a place in the modern healthy living community, but it’s important that those looking to cleanse seek the advice of a medical professional before doing so. And before starting a cleanse, ask yourself if the potential work involved is worth the seven pounds you may lose quickly, only to gain back later. Could you have lost that weight with careful meal planning and reduction of processed foods from your pantry and fridge?

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