Is The Juice Really Worth The Squeeze? The Trials and Tribulations Of A Girl On A Juice Cleanse
Image: Peeled Juice Bar
Since everyone and their mother seems to be into juicing nowadays, I chose to subject myself to Peeled’s “Classic Cleanse” to see what all the hype was about. In general, juice cleanses are designed to detoxify the body while rebooting and revitalizing the digestive system. The supposed benefits include clearer, brighter skin, renewed energy, sounder sleep, and a decrease in cravings.
While I was definitely not opposed to a good old-fashioned detox, I also viewed this as an opportunity to really put my willpower to the test.
- Cleanse: Peeled Juice Bar — Classic Cleanse
- Duration: 3 Days
- The Product: 6 (16 oz) juices/day — 2 green, 2 red, 1 spicy lemonade, 1 nut milk
- Nutrition: Roughly 1,100 calories/day
- Cost: $97 on Groupon, valued at $195
Peeled is a locally owned, small-batch juice bar with locations in both the north side of Chicago and Evanston (a northern suburb for all you non-natives out there). They pride themselves on using only the freshest, raw(est) ingredients to handcraft their cold-pressed juices. The ambiance at Peeled is bright and cheery, and the staff is super friendly and accommodating. The company’s tongue-in-cheek humor makes you feel right at home; “life’s a batch” is sprawled across their cleanse pamphlets, and the menu features juices with names like “Adam’s Apple” and “Swiss Beets.”
An Added Bonus: Craving juice but find yourself in a time crunch? Peeled will deliver your juice of choice right to your door. Now that’s service.
My Juice Cleanse Experience
The Plan of Action: Drink 6 juices per day in the following order and allow for approximately 2 hours in between each juice.
- 1. Green Lantern: kale, romaine lettuce, spinach, parsley, celery, lemon, ginger, cucumber, apple
- 2. Haute Lemonade: purified water, lemon, ginger, cayenne pepper, agave nectar, maple syrup
- 3. Maroon 5: beet, carrot, apple, lemon, ginger
- 4. Green Lantern
- 5. Maroon 5
- 6. Cashew Dream: cashews, vanilla bean, dates, agave nectar, nutmeg, cinnamon, maple syrup
The Cleanse — Day 1
9 AM, Juice #1:
My roommate and I sit down to indulge (um, sort of) in our very first juice of the cleanse. As we clink our plastic containers together to transition into these 3 days of hell, I try and mentally prepare myself for what I’m about to consume. The bottle bears the name “Green Lantern,” presumably because it’s somewhat of a nutritional superhero in the produce world.
After one sip, I think “not so bad.” 30 minutes and 16 ounces later, I’ve had enough of this leafy green overload. It takes me some effort to get the whole thing down, and I end this first juice feeling a bit nauseated. I long for my usual breakfast of steel cuts oats with almond butter. Feeling equal parts unsettled and unsatisfied, I count down the hours until my next juice.
11:30 AM, Juice # 2:
I’m excited to try the “Haute Lemonade” because I’m a fan of both lemon and a little zest in the form of spice. This juice has a major kick to it; when it first hits your tongue it’s delightfully refreshing. However, the cayenne pepper certainly has staying power…the aftertaste brings on the heat. Overall this juice was very light and pleasant to drink. Unlike the green juice, I actually wished I had more of this one after taking the final sip.
2 PM, Juice # 3:
It’s time for the red juice, or as they call it at Peeled, “Maroon 5”. Let me just say that this one doesn’t go down as smoothly as a hit from its musical counterpart (delirium has clearly begun to set in). Chock-full of beets and carrots, this juice is definitely the earthiest of them all. Although I’ve heard that this is the least palatable of the 4, I didn’t mind it too much. Similar to the green juice, it took some effort to finish the entire bottle.
Afterward, I felt pretty woozy, and my cravings for protein really kicked in. Just give me some egg whites, some unseasoned grilled chicken…ANYTHING that isn’t fruit and veggie based. To help ward off these unpleasant thoughts, I got in bed and conveniently fell asleep until it was time for my next juice.
4:30 PM, Juice #4:
As I reflect on how I’m feeling physically, I realize that I’m not very hungry at all. Yes, I wish that I could incorporate solid food into my next meal, but, unexpectedly, my stomach isn’t growling in agony. I am, however, feeling very fatigued. I chalk this up to the absence of protein from my typically meat-laden diet.
It’s now time to complete the first cycle of the three day cleanse and return to the green juice for the second time today. Much to my dismay, this juice is not nearly as appealing as it was when I had it first thing in the morning. I manage to get it all down anyway, and afterward, I find myself feeling particularly exhausted and ready for another nap.
6:30 PM, Juice #5:
Back to the red juice. At this point, I’m not even the least bit hungry for anything. But, nonetheless, I chug this one as quickly as possible.
8 PM, “Juice” #6:
A pseudo-sinful soirée of cashews, vanilla, dates, and cinnamon has never been more appealing. This final drink (not so much a juice as it is a luscious blend of nuts and spices) may just be delicious enough to make this super-challenging day worth it. It really is that good: sweet, but not too sweet…and just enough protein and healthy fat to leave me satisfied at the end of this day of deprivation.
The Cleanse — Day 2
Just as yesterday, I wake up naturally a little before 9. To my own surprise, I feel pretty great: full of energy, no pounding headache from caffeine withdrawal, and my skin actually appears to be brighter (placebo effect, anyone?)! I’m ready to start the cycle all over again on Day 2. But let’s be honest, the cashew milk at the end of the night may just be a major motivator.
Tackling the first juice of the day was relatively easy. However, I did experience some unwelcomed, unpleasant hunger pangs before 11:30 rolled around. Next up was the cayenne pepper infused lemonade which, given yesterday’s experience, I was admittedly a bit too excited for. While not very filling, this juice was deliciously energizing— and, not to mention, perfect for the hot, sticky weather in Chicago.
Although I didn’t quite object to it yesterday, the beet-based juice scheduled for 2 PM was met with protest by my mind and body. Thankfully, with the much-needed help of ice water and lemon, I was able to get it down in a reasonable amount of time. Despite feeling very fatigued at this point, I wasn’t even remotely hungry for the second green juice of the day. Nonetheless, I drank it all and welcomed the nutrients that I’m certain my body was craving.
I hate to admit defeat; but, at this point in time, I’m feeling relatively weak. My muscles feel tense and locked up, I’m a little shaky, and my mind is foggy. I’m attributing this to the abrupt, drastic change in the amount of protein typically embedded in my diet. To be perfectly frank, I’m protein-obsessed. Protein, without exception, plays the leading role in all of my meals. So suddenly cutting it out (save for the small amount found in the cashew milk) was bound to leave me feeling less than stellar.
By the time 7:30 rolls around, I’m yearning for some healthy fats. At 8 PM I’m halfway through my cashew milk and savoring every last drop of sweet salvation. My fatigue has not let up; so, pathetically enough, I decide to call it a night just before 10 PM.
The Cleanse — THE FINAL DAY
I was told by many that this day is by far the easiest. “You won’t even think about food,” they said. “Your cravings will all disappear,” they said. Oh, but they were wrong. Per usual, the morning and afternoon weren’t so bad. As suspected, dinner -time was the worst of all. Note to self: NEVER schedule your last day of a juice cleanse on a Friday or Saturday night; all of your friends WILL be going out to dinner and you will be kicking yourself (and your beet juice) for not being able to join them.
Despite grieving over my lack of social life, I managed to complete the final day of the cleanse. I retreated to bed with the peace of mind that I was just a slumber away from enjoying real food.
Summing It All Up
Based on my experience, a cleanse is good for:
- De-bloating — for women, especially, fighting bloat is a constant battle. Pants that fit one day may barely button thanks to what feels like an inflated balloon where your stomach should be. Throughout my cleansing experience, I never once felt as if my stomach was even the least bit distended. You’ll welcome the challenge of fitting into that new pair of skinny jeans.
- Eating smaller portions — For my first meal of freedom, I ordered my standard egg-white omelet with veggies. Usually, this meal barely satiates me. However, post-cleanse, this low-cal plate filled me up to a point of actual discomfort. I couldn’t help but think that my stomach had actually shrunk from the past 3 days of calorie cutting.
- Jumpstarting a new diet plan — You really grow to appreciate real food after enduring 3 whole days of liquids. Trust me: it’s much easier to start a diet of natural, unprocessed foods after being deprived of them for a few days. Instead of reaching for the greasy, salt-infested chips in your pantry, you’ll be more inclined to grab fresh fruits and veggies, or nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
- Two is Company. Doing this cleanse with a friend was likely what saved me. It’s so beneficial to have someone by your side to encourage you when you feel like giving in. Sometimes, your own willpower may not be enough (especially when you’re starving and eyeing the pizza place from across the street).
- Prepare. For at least 2 days before the cleanse, try your hardest to cut out all processed foods. Stick to a mostly raw diet (think fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds), and, to all my fellow carnivores out there, wean yourself off of meat as best as you can. Also, nix the caffeine. If you’re a 4-cup-a-day gal or guy, try your best to stick to one or two cups for the few days before you begin your cleansing journey. This preparation period is key. The cleanse will be (even more of) a nightmare if your final meal is a 12 oz filet with a side of fries and a brownie sundae for dessert.
- Hydrate. Drink tons of water throughout the day. I kept a bowl of cut up lemon in the fridge to make water more palatable when it was no longer appealing. Green tea is the only other liquid permitted throughout the cleanse — TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT! Sipping on some (hot or iced: your call) will help you get through the downtime in between each scheduled juice.
- Sleep Well. On the second-to-last night of the cleanse, I got around 7 hours of sleep. While this may be more than enough for the average person, it just doesn’t cut it for me. I’m confident that I would have felt significantly more energized throughout the third day if I had slept in a little longer. Try to pick a sleep schedule that works for you, and stick to it.
- Post-Cleanse: Keep Yourself in Check. Try to wean yourself off the juice as best as you can. Gradually introduce lean meats and whole grains back into your diet for the few days following the cleanse.
Well, there you have it. While I did enjoy parts of the cleanse (like not having to worry about what I’d be having for my next meal…or 10), I’m not sure I would do this exact package again. For me, personally, the benefits did not outweigh the overall struggle.
However, if you live in the Chicago area and are willing to give one a try, I highly recommend Peeled. The fresh, high-quality juices definitely helped to make the cleansing experience more bearable. They’ve even added a protein-based cleanse for potential juicers who can’t imagine a day without it. I am fairly confident that I’ll be giving that one a try in the near future.
Check out Peeled’s website at http://peeledjuicebar.com/ for a full menu, nutrition information, and detailed descriptions of all the cleanse packages. Happy juicing!
Marissa Gillis recently graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in psychology. She believes in a sound mind and body and is all for living a holistic lifestyle.
When it comes to exercise, she's always looking for new ways to stay fit. She loves to complement her runs and HIIT classes with barre workouts and yoga. In the fall, she will begin a graduate program to earn her Ed.S degree in school psychology.
Latest posts by Marissa Gillis (see all)
Follow Lean It UP on Twitter
for real-time fitness/nutrition tips, advice, info and updates.