The Safe Way to Do a 3-Day Juice Cleanse

Learn how to go on a 3-day juice cleanse

juice cleanse
A green vegetable-based juice is a key part of a juice cleanse. Matilda Delves/Moment Open/Getty Images

What is a Juice Cleanse?

A juice cleanse is a type of detox diet that involves consuming vegetable and fruit juice for a short period of time (typically one to three days). Some programs include one or more smoothies per day to provide protein, fat, and other nutrients for energy and to curb hunger. Vegan meals and snacks are included on some plans.

According to proponents, a juice cleanse supports the body’s natural detox processes, clears the diet of sugar, caffeine, refined foods, and other foods and substances that can deplete energy, and jumpstarts a more healthful way of eating.

Raw, organic juice is the key component of the cleanse because of the nutrients, phytochemicals, and antioxidants that are in an easily absorbable liquid form. Vegan, gluten-free meals, and snacks may be included for people requiring more energy, are new to juice cleansing, or want a less extreme experience. Consultation with a health care professional is recommended, particularly for cleanses lasting longer than one day or for anyone with a health condition.

Juice cleanses can be done at home using a juicer or juice press. Cleanse programs are also available in many cities at local juice bars, larger chain stores such as Whole Foods Market, Costco, or Target, or can be ordered online from companies such as Blueprint Cleanse, Organic Avenue, and Pressed Juicery.

How It's Typically Done:

1) Preparation for a Juice Cleanse – 1 to 5 Days Before - Although it may be tempting to jump into a juice cleanse, preparation is considered essential.

Certain foods, such as coffee, refined sugar, meat, dairy products, wheat, alcohol, and nicotine are gradually eliminated to reduce headaches, cravings, and other withdrawal symptoms. It’s also considered important to increase intake of fresh vegetables, fruits, and fluids during the pre-cleanse. See Preparing for a Detox Diet for more tips.

2) 3-Day Juice Cleanse - During the actual cleanse days, at least 32 ounces of juice or smoothie is usually suggested, with at least half being green vegetable juice.

This is a typical day on a 3-day juice fast:

  • Upon waking: lukewarm water with a splash of fresh lemon juice
  • 8-9am: Juice, such as the Green vegetable juice
  • 10:30-11:30am: Juice (or smoothie/cleanse food)
  • 1-2 pm: Juice (or smoothie/cleanse food) 
  • 3-4pm: Juice such as the Beet, carrot, apple juice
  • 5-6pm: Juice (or smoothie/cleanse food) 
  • 6-8 pm: Smoothie or almond or cashew nut "milk"

Smoothies and vegan food can be included or substituted in more gentle juice cleanses. Room temperature or lukewarm water may be consumed between each juice or meal to promote elimination.

To optimize nutrient absorption, juice cleanse proponents recommend drinking juice slowly rather than gulping it down. Juice is typically consumed a couple of hours apart, with the final drink of the day being at least three hours before bedtime.

Fruits and vegetables used to make the juices often include celery, kale, carrot, cabbage, apple, spinach, beets, and leafy greens.

Avocados and bananas don't juice well, and the pits of peaches, apricots, cherries and other fruit, apple seeds, carrot, and rhubarb tops, and tough skins of kiwi, pineapple and mangos should be avoided. Organic produce is best, but if it's unavailable, a fruit and vegetable wash (often available in health food stores) may help to remove pesticide residues. Find out more about common juicing ingredients.

People often find it easiest to juice at the beginning or end of the day and to make enough for one full day. Although juice should be consumed as close to the time of juicing as possible, juice can be stored in covered glass or BPA-free cups or bottles.

If hunger pangs are persistent or uncomfortable, vegetable broth or a small snack such as carrots, celery, a salad, or a piece of fruit is often suggested. For certain people, a modified juice fast that includes a salad each day for lunch or dinner may be recommended.

3) Breaking the Juice Cleanse - After the juice fast is complete, food is usually reintroduced into the diet over several days. Find out how to break the cleanse.

4) Common Questions and Precautions - A juice cleanse isn't right for everyone. There are some important precautions to know about. Get answers to commonly asked questions about juice cleansing, such as side effects, how to deal with hunger and other questions in this FAQ.

Other Parts of a Juice Cleanse

Physical activity

While it’s a good idea to tone down your exercise routine during a juice cleanse, normal activity such as walking can help to boost blood and lymphatic circulation. Also, try massage therapy (such as Swedish massage, lymphatic drainage, deep tissue massage, and Thai massage), contrast showers, and skin brushing, which can be done as part of a regular shower.

Mind/body wellness

Stress can have negative effects on health and can impair detoxification. Allow the mind to rest by incorporating mind/body practices such as diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or mindfulness meditation. Try to get plenty of rest. Go to bed as early as you can and take naps if possible.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, the liver is associated with anger, the kidneys with fear, and the gallbladder holds frustration. Proponents of juice cleansing believe that old emotions may arise and be cleansed from the system as the corresponding organs are cleansed. See Understanding Emotions in Traditional Chinese Medicine to learn more about the fascinating relationships between emotions and physical symptoms.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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