Feeling sluggish? Need a break from overindulging? A juice cleanse can help fix those ills—at least according to the claims made by some of the companies that sell them. On a cleanse, you replace solid food with fruit and vegetable juices (and sometimes nut milks) for one day to a week or longer. About 20 percent of adults who want to lose or maintain weight have tried a “cleanse,” according to market research firm Mintel's November 2014 "Diet Trends" report. Adults ages 18 to 34 are the biggest cleanse users, with men edging out women. Cleanse enthusiasts aren’t just juicing apples and kale at home: Consumer Reports estimates that Americans spend more than $200 million on bottled cleanses each year.

Weight loss is one reason people turn to cleanses. In 2006 Beyoncé reportedly slimmed down using The Master Cleanse—a regime dating back to 1940 that consists of a cocktail of lemon, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and water, plus a laxative. But the promises that many of today’s manufacturers make are more focused on improving health and wellbeing, some claiming to “reset your body,” “eliminate toxins,” impart “increased energy,” and more. And cleanses come complete with healthy-sounding names such as Glow, and Purify.

That’s heady stuff for any juice. To find out whether they live up to the hype, in September 2015 Consumer Reports’ nutrition experts ordered a three-day program from four juice cleanse brands: BluePrint Renovation Cleanse (shown above), Suja Original Fresh Start, Pressed Juicery Cleanse 1 (shown below), and Organic Avenue Love Deep. (Organic Avenue is currently unavailable, but a representative says it will be available again this spring.)

The first thing we noticed was the steep price; three days of juices cost around $200 (including shipping). After evaluating their nutrition labels, reviewing the medical research, and talking to experts, we put some of these claims into perspective.

Claim: Removes toxins
“Many people believe that they have toxins stuck inside them, and that cleansing diets will get rid of them, but the idea that your body needs to be ‘detoxed’ is folklore,” says Frank Greenway, M.D., a professor, endocrinologist, and nutrition and obesity expert who runs the outpatient research clinic at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

Our bodies make toxins—including urea (a compound produced when we digest protein), and lactic acid, (which our muscles produce during strenuous exercise). “But we don’t need help removing them,” says nephrologist Orlando Gutierrez, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “The kidneys and liver are the body’s natural detoxers,” Gutierrez says. Those organs convert toxins into compounds that are eliminated by our bodies in sweat, urine, and feces.

Claim: Rests your digestive system
“Juices, or any kind of pulverized food, don’t require your stomach to grind them up, so you are making your gut work a little less hard,” says Arthur Heller, M.D., a clinical nutrition expert, gastroenterologist and internist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. But, “unless you have a condition such as inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s disease, it’s not necessary to rest your digestive system.” Heller says.

And on average, the cleanses we looked at were generally low in fiber, a component that helps your digestive system run smoothly. Based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet, adults should eat 28 grams of fiber daily. Skimp and you can end up with constipation or diarrhea—conditions that cleanse enthusiasts sometimes wrongly cite as evidence that the body is expelling toxins, but which Heller says is more likely due to insufficient fiber or another medical problem.

Of the juice cleanses we looked at, only Pressed Juicery hit (and exceeded) that fiber target, providing 36g of fiber per day. Suja, BluePrint and Organic Avenue all had less than 12g per day. (See table below for more nutritional information.) 

Claim: Boosts energy
You may feel energized on a juice cleanse, but “those energy spikes could be due to the fact that juices contain free sugars whereas whole fruit does not,” says Adam Drewnowski, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington in Seattle. In fact, 70 to 91 percent of the carbohydrates in the cleanses we looked at came from sugars. “Without enough fiber to slow absorption, free sugars can quickly enter the bloodstream giving you increased energy,” Drewnowski says. Drinking a glass of orange juice on an empty stomach does the same thing.

“Overdoing certain foods can also make you feel unhealthy, so skipping those foods—whether you’re following one of these programs or another eating plan—might make you feel better,” says Consumer Reports dietitian Amy Keating, R.D. For example, if your normal diet is high in salt, you may have high blood pressure, which can make you feel unwell, says Gutierrez. Reducing salt can cause your blood pressure to return to normal and make you feel better. Similarly, when you eat fatty foods, your body can become resistant to insulin, says Gutierrez, “and that insulin resistance can make you feel poorly.” Cutting down on the fat you eat may improve how you feel because you need less insulin in your bloodstream. But if you go back to your old eating patterns after the cleanse, the trouble will return.

Juice Cleanse Comparison (for a single day)


Original Fresh Start


Renovation Cleanse

Organic Avenue

Love Deep1

Pressed Juicery

Cleanse 1

Daily Nutritional Goals for Moderately Active Adults2

Total Calories960






220 g

197 g

145 g

236 g

325/250 g


  (% of

172 g


180 g


118 g


164 g




14 g

16 g

13 g

36 g

130/100 g


0 g

19 g

11 g

56 g

87/67 g


2 g

5 g

12 g

36 g

36/28 g


580 mg

375 mg

840 mg

700 mg

2,300 mg 

(maximum daily limit)

  1. Total for Day 1 of cleanse (juices vary slightly each day).
  2. Based on the federal government's 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines.
  3. Primarily naturally occurring sugars.

Claim: Takes off weight
None of the cleanses we looked at promised you’ll drop pounds, but that’s an important reason why many people try one, Keating says. And you probably will because these three-day programs range from just 735 to 1,520 calories per day—fewer than the 2,000 calories the average, moderately active woman needs per day to maintain her weight (2,600 per day for a moderately active man). “But there’s nothing magical about these products, says Sharon R. Akabas, Ph.D., Director of the Master’s in Nutrition program at Columbia University’s Institute of Human Nutrition. “If you only ate three Snickers a day for three days, you’d probably still lose weight because you’re eating fewer calories.”

Will the weight stay off? Not unless you continue to control calories. “But there is no scientific data showing that a three-day juice cleanse will change the way you eat long term,” says David Seres, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Columbia University’s Institute of Human Nutrition. “The body was designed to crave eating almost as strongly as breathing, so it’s very difficult to subdue the urge to eat,” he says. “The only methods that seem to be durable are highly rigorous behavioral programs, such as working with a dietitian or behavioral nutritionist, or following a structured program like Weight Watchers,” Seres says.

Claim: Reduces your dependence on unhealthy, processed foods
You may feel healthier while you’re following one of these programs and stripping your diet of unhealthy foods, but Keating says that there’s no guarantee that you won’t add unhealthy foods back into your diet when the program ends. “Instead of spending money on this short-term fix,” Keating says, “try adopting small dietary and lifestyle changes that you can stick to, such as buying organic produce that doesn’t contain toxic pesticides in the first place, or swapping white bread for 100 percent whole wheat bread that’s higher in fiber.”

Bottom line: We asked each of these manufacturers to explain how their products achieved the claims they made. Some chose not to get back to us. Those that did defended the benefits of their products. After conducting our own research and reviewing the information they sent us, we were not convinced that the products are worth the money.

Nevertheless, if you’re in good health and aren’t pregnant or breast-feeding, doing a juice cleanse for up to three days probably won’t harm you. But staying on one for longer is not a good idea because they don’t provide the full spectrum of nutrients your body requires. The most glaring omission: protein. None of the cleanses we looked at contained enough to meet daily needs (see graphic). If you do want to try a cleanse, as with any diet, consult your doctor first, says Consumer Reports chief medical advisor Marvin M. Lipman, M.D., “And if you feel dizzy or lightheaded while on a cleanse, develop diarrhea, or begin vomiting,” Lipman says, “it’s time to give up the juice and go back to real food.”

This is an image of Pressed Juicery's Cleanse 1 juice cleanse program.
Pressed Juicery Cleanse 1