Eating on a juice cleanse will likely have little impact on your goals, outside of potentially slowing weight loss. However, if you do have meals, it’s recommended that they contain some protein, fat, and carbs to help you complete the cleanse effectively.

When you think about juice cleanses, you may imagine walking along the beach in white linen pants, waking up early to do yoga, picking out fresh fruits and veggies at the farmers market with a gentle half-smile on your face, and laughing in a hammock.

The reality of really strict juice cleanses, though, isn’t quite so pretty. Think of your stomach rumbling so loud it can be heard on the Zoom call, pounding your fists on the steering wheel to keep from pulling into the drive-thru, and spending hours anticipating your next meal (juice) only for it to be gone way too quickly. One thing that would solve all those probs, though, is EATING.

So, can you eat on a juice cleanse?

The answer is yes. You can eat whenever TF you want.

But let’s dive in and see exactly what eating on a juice cleanse looks like.

illustration of a person drinking juice instead of eating foodShare on Pinterest
Illustration by Yaja Mulcare

Juice cleanses, or juice fasts, are short-term, super strict juice diets designed to help you “detox” or “reset” your body or drop some quick pounds. Many people do juice cleanses after the holidays or a vacation where they eat a lot of rich food, or before starting a more long-term diet.

On a juice cleanse, you only drink juice for a specified amount of time — say 2 to 3 days. Some may even go up to 10 days.

But we’re not talking like a juice box or a bottle of OJ from the store — this is typically homemade juice or bottled juices made specifically for juice cleanses, which come with premium price tags. The juice can be from a single veggie or fruit, but many of them are blends.

Some favorite fruits and veggies for juicing include:

Drinking these minimally processed, super-fresh juices is an easy way to boost your nutrient intake. And you can tweak your ingredients for taste. (When in doubt, add pineapple!)

The thing is, though… juice cleanses aren’t really supported by science.

If you have no underlying liver or kidney conditions, your body does a fine job of detoxing itself — these organs function to get rid of waste compounds. And if you need to, uh, “clear out the pipes” 💩 then drinking juiced fruits and vegetables may actually be less effective than just eating the fruits and vegetables because juicing removes most of the fiber — which can help get things moving down yonder.

Most juices in juice cleanses are also low in fat and protein, leaving just carbs. These juices aren’t very filling, which can leave you feeling hangry and deprived not too long after eating.

Adding a bit of fat, which is typically not included in a by-the-book juice cleanse, can help you to absorb the fat-soluble nutrients and antioxidants in all those fruits and veggies better, too.

And while following a juice cleanse may result in weight loss, this is typically extremely short-lived. Juice cleanses aren’t sustainable, and as soon as you return to your typical eating pattern, it’s likely you’ll regain the weight you lost during the cleanse. And that’s certainly NOT any kind of failure on your part, that’s just the facts.

Many people include food on their juice cleanses just to make them more doable, and many commercial “cleanse” programs also include small meals or snacks packed with protein, fat, and carbs, too.

However, eating on a juice cleanse will slow down your weight loss. But weight loss on a juice cleanse isn’t sustainable anyway. Ya gotta eat, so it’s important to find a sustainable diet that will allow you to lose weight. That’s the *secret* to lasting weight loss.

Some good juice cleanse eating options

If you want to cleanse after a particularly rich period of eating, like from Halloween to New Years, every year, for us, then it’s probably because you may have been overindulging in things like sweets, fried foods, highly processed food, restaurant food, or really fatty foods.

So, if you want to keep your cleanse healthy and “cleansing,” then the big thing is just to avoid these foods.

That leaves a vast world of whole-food ingredients that you can still enjoy.

And if you wanna go hard, you could even keep it raw vegan with things like big ol’ salads with oily vinaigrette dressing or raw trail mix to snack on.

But we think it’s a good idea to use a juice cleanse as an opportunity to adopt some more sustainable, nutritious eating habits while supplementing with some yummy fresh juice.

For you, that may look like eating one homemade meal for dinner with your juices when you usually grab fast food on the way home from work. Or it may look like drinking juice or having a small meal at regular mealtimes when maybe you skip meals and eat much later.

Here are some healthy, minimally processed foods you may want to nosh on while juice cleansing:

  • proteins like salmon, tuna, shellfish, eggs, chickpeas, lentils, or tofu
  • fats and oils, including coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil
  • fruits, veggies, nuts, or seeds
  • grains and starches like potatoes, sweet potatoes, oats, quinoa, barley, or rice

And if you really want to knock out your juice cleanse without eating any solid foods, try including some fat-, protein-, and fiber-rich additions in your juices to give them some additional staying power. Some good examples include avocados, nuts and seeds, and coconut milk or cream.

Nope! You do what works for you.

While juice cleanse purists may scoff at the idea of eating food during a juice cleanse, it’s really NBD.

As we mentioned earlier, detoxing as a result of a juice cleanse isn’t really a thing, anyway. And besides, whole foods can be just as pure and unprocessed as fresh juice, with the added bonus of increased satiety and more fiber.

If you enjoy juicing and juice cleanses, that’s fantastic. Juice is delicious, after all. But if you want to eat, don’t ever think you have to white-knuckle your way through a cleanse without food.

Before you do a juice cleanse

Juice cleanses can be extremely restrictive. Significantly reducing how much you eat, or how many calories you consume per day, may affect your blood sugar and hormone levels. Additionally, juices made with grapefruit or dark green leafy vegetables may interfere with certain medications.

Be sure to speak with your healthcare professional or a registered dietitian before starting a juice cleanse, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or if you take any prescription medications.

Was this helpful?

Juice cleanses are short-term juice diets that promise to detox your body and help you lose weight. But while it might sound legit effective, there’s not a lot of research to support these claims.

If you want to eat on your juice cleanse, then by golly, just do it. You can make it work for you by choosing nutritious, minimally processed foods and still enjoying juices too. And remember that any good plan — with our without a juice cleanse — can be helpful for achieving your personal health goals.