I frequently get asked the question about whether or not a green smoothie diet is healthy and how long one should go on such a diet to lose weight, detox, etc. Another question I get a lot concerns juice fasts.
There is a lot of debate on the topic of juice fasts. On one side, you have those praising the benefits of juice fasting (i.e. detoxification, weight loss, feelings of lightness, “spiritual awakening”).
On the other side, opponents of juice fasting claim that frequent or long-term (30+ day) fasts disrupt metabolism and can lead to nutrient-deficiencies.
I’d like to share my take on this debate and whether or not juice fasting, liquid diets and smoothie diets are healthy or not.
To be honest, I’ve never had the desire to do a smoothie diet or juice fast – ever. I’ve never felt the need to do any sort of commercial or non-food cleanse or detox. If your diet is reasonably healthy, and you switch over to more natural products, cleansing or long-term smoothie or juice fasting just feels unnecessary (and unnatural) to me.
If you feel the need to cleanse and detox, especially on a regular basis, a change in your diet is probably in order. If your diet is working for you, you shouldn’t need to give your body a break from digestion, nor should you be building up “toxic residues”.
Our bodies are capable of purging small amounts of toxins and anti-nutrients we ingest, absorb and breathe in every day (that’s what our kidneys, liver and colon are for). We don’t need to give our body any assistance through long-term juice fasting, short term fasts/cleanses or through colon hydrotherapy.
As you can tell, I am not an advocate of juice fasting. But what about a green smoothie diet? After all, green smoothies are whole foods (unlike juices) complete with fiber, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, plenty of protein and fat.
Should green smoothies replace meals?
I regularly drink meal-replacement green smoothies. For me, it’s a convenience thing. I’m not trying to lose weight or detox. It’s just really quick and simple to blend up a 40-ounce green smoothie for breakfast.
However, I would never, ever do (nor advocate) a green smoothie-only diet for a couple reasons.
First of all, many green smoothies are too low in calories to be considered a meal. It took me a while to get to the point where I could drink a 40 ounce green smoothie that satisfied me until lunch without feeling bloated or too full. A smoothie this size has, on average, 600 to 700 calories depending on what fruits you use.
If you are drinking a 16-ounce green smoothie, you’re probably only getting about 200 or so calories, maybe even less. Drinking 16-ounce green smoothies in place of meals could set you up for a serious calorie deficit and nutritional deficiencies over time.
Unless you are willing and able to drink a 40+ ounce green smoothie three to four times per day AND pack each smoothie full of sweet fruit (I’m talking 4 bananas, 1 mango, a few tangerines AND a handful of red grapes with an entire head of romaine lettuce), then you will not get enough calories and nutrients to stick to this diet and maintain your health.
Secondly, the other reason I don’t advocate a smoothie-only diet is because I don’t believe in temporary diets. If you want ultimate health and long-term results, you need to make long-term, permanent diet and lifestyle changes. If you return to old eating habits after the smoothie diet ends, the diet was completely ineffective.
This is why I don’t advocate green smoothie diets, severe calorie-restriction, juice or water fasts or any other temporary diet. Temporary changes simply do not lead to lasting results. Doing a smoothie diet or juice fast a few times each year does absolutely nothing to help you lose weight or detox if the rest of your diet is not in order.
You might get short term benefits with a short term green smoothie diet that meets your nutrition targets, but it is far better and far more effective to implement green smoothies on a daily basis as part of an overall diet plan.
If you are interested in doing a detox or cleanse, I can’t stress enough the importance of doing it with whole foods like green smoothies and whole fruits and vegetables. Our new e-book called Detox In 4 Days: A Seasonal Guide To Cleansing Your Body, Mind and Home outlines four different detox meal plans for each season as well as many other recipes, tips and advice on detoxification.
Have you tried a green smoothie diet? What about a juice fast? Give us your thoughts by posting a comment below.
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Tracy Russell is the creator of the Green Smoothie Health & Weight Loss Program and founder of Incredible Smoothies. She is passionate about helping people improve their health with green smoothies and a whole foods lifestyle.