Heard of juice fasting, juice cleansing, or juice detox? Juice Fasts usually involve a week of juice only. Celebs are RAVING about them as a quick way to lose weight and feel better. The claims these diets make range from quick and easy weight loss, to removing toxins from your body, to improved skin and brain health, and all sorts of other random benefits. Are these true? Are they safe? And should you try it? The short answer is probably not. The risks just don’t outweigh the benefits for most teenage girls, especially given the numerous healthy ways that exist to manage weight. Here are some facts about juice fasts that may make you think twice about a liquid diet. If you just can’t avoid the urge to try one, you’ll also find some suggestions for how you can reap the benefits of juicing without doing a full-on cleanse.
1. They’re not scientifically designed for teenagers. A few juice plans are put together by doctors and dieticians using safe scientific approaches to getting appropriate nutrients, but these are usually geared towards adults with obesity or specific medical problems. The vast majority of juice cleanse diet plans are not backed by any scientific studies other than opinions of people who have tried them. And many juicing programs can actually be harmful to your health. In your teenage years, the years just before and after puberty, you’re going through some of the most important physical and functional growth periods of your lives. Proper nutrition involving a wide variety of fruits, veggies, proteins, grains and healthy fats is absolutely critical at this point. Skimping on nutrients can cause problems in concentration and development.
2. They make you dizzy and nauseous: Juice diets that are low in calories and don’t have a wide variety of nutrients can cause low energy levels, weakness, dizziness, muscle aches, and nausea. Too little fiber can cause bloating or constipation. The calories that are there are typically sugar calories from the fruit if there aren’t enough vegetables in the juice and can leave you feeling hungry again soon after.
3. They can increase cramps. Juice diets can change your electrolytes. Sodium and potassium are important for muscular and heart function. Too little potassium, magnesium, and calcium can cause very painful muscle cramps.
4. They can actually cause weight gain when you are done. Crash diets alter your metabolism, when you are finished with them, most people feel deprived overeat the foods they’ve been missing out on. When you combine that with the slower metabolism that occurs when you cut calories, you are more likely to gain weight.
5. They can have bad effects on other parts of your body if done for too long. Long stretches of low calorie crash or fad diets can cause your hair to fall out, your periods to become irregular, and even more serious heath and digestive problems.
6. They don’t necessarily do everything they say they do. Claims that you are detoxing your body? Important organs like your liver, kidneys, and colon remove toxins from your body naturally. You don’t need extreme diets or pills for your body to do what it is built to do.
7. They can be very expensive. You either buy a week’s worth of expensive juices directly from companies that sell them or make your own. It takes a LOT of fresh fruits and veggies to create one juice since you are taking out all of the fiber (which, by the way is actually very good for you.)
8. They don’t measure up to a well-balanced breakfast. Studies have found that teens who skip breakfast or don’t have adequate morning nutrition had more problems focusing in school. A good breakfast should have fruit or vegetables, a protein source, and whole grains. Adding an appropriate breakfast actually increased math grades! Having a fresh fruit or veggie juice is actually a great idea for a snack, but should never be used by teens as a long-term diet or detox method. The bottom line is that doctors and nutritionists agree that juice fasts are NEVER a good idea for adolescents. It is so important to get a wide variety of fruits and veggies in the diet, but you need more than that. Proteins are critical for muscle strength and carbohydrates from whole grains keep you focused and sharp. Getting doses of healthy fats in your diet is important for organ development and healthy skin and hair. Vitamins and minerals found in a healthy diet keep your body functioning at it’s optimal level, so whether you need to be sharp in the classroom or playing sports, or music, or creating art, you want your diet to make you feel energized and on top of your game, not sluggish and grumpy.