Cleanses and detox diets are all the rage these days. From paleo to juice cleanses, social media and the internet are filled with different fad diets that promise results. One of these fad diets is the smoothie cleanse. But is a smoothie cleanse healthily, and what does it entail? There is so much information out that it can be hard to decipher which diets are actually beneficial, and how to properly follow them. Here we clarify how to do a smoothie diet in the healthiest, safest way.
Read on to find out how to do a smoothie cleanse, including tips and recipe ideas.
Benefits of a Smoothie Cleanse
When done right, doing a smoothie cleanse may have many health benefits.
1. Gives Your Digestive System a Break
When you consume only smoothies for a certain period of time, the digestive system does not need to break down lots of solid food. Intaking blended liquid makes nutrients available to the body for use, without having to tax the digestive system to
Why is it good for the body to have a break from digestion? Well, you can think of your body as a piece of machinery. The frequently a piece of machinery operates, the higher the likelihood that it will experience glitches or damage. When digesting food, your organs are working hard to break down food into usable pieces. Doing a smoothie cleanse is essentially a reset for your digestive system.
2. Increases Intake of Fruits and Veggies
Fruits and vegetables usually make up the bulk of most smoothies. Drinking only smoothies ensures that you’re consuming lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Increasing your intake of micronutrients from plants helps fight against metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.
3. Clean Up Your Diet
When you drink only smoothies, you are by default eliminating all processed foods and junk foods from your diet. This means that all junk like candy, chips, cookies, candies and French fries are off-limits. As a result, you are drastically eliminating added sugar, saturated fat, and excess sodium from your diet, which helps reduce systemic inflammation, lower blood pressure, and improve metabolic functioning.
4. Jump Starts Weight Loss
Drinking smoothies for weight loss can be helpful, at least initially. Following a smoothie cleanse can help your body lose weight in the short term. The anti-inflammatory effects of a smoothie cleanse can help improve metabolic function, which helps your body turn food into energy more efficiently. Plus, a smoothie cleanse also helps you intake fewer calories, creating a calorie deficit that leads to weight loss.
Are All Smoothie Cleanses Healthy?
Keep in mind that not all smoothie cleanses are healthy. In fact, if done the wrong way, a smoothie cleanse can actually be harmful. Doing a smoothie cleanse that is too restrictive in calories and doesn’t contain varied ingredients can lead to fatigue, muscle wasting, and rapid and unhealthy weight loss.
The key to a healthy smoothie cleanse is doing it right.
How to Do the Best Smoothie Cleanse
Follow these tips for ensuring that a smoothie cleanse supports your health.
1. Don’t Cut Calories Too Low
While doing a smoothie cleanse, avoid creating too big of a calorie deficit. You may want to consume fewer calories than usual, to help kick start weight loss, which is totally fine. However, cutting your calories too low can cause fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and muscle wasting.
2. Shorter Cleanses Are Better
Because you’re missing out on the fiber present in whole foods, it’s better to keep the smoothie cleanse on the shorter end. Although a 10-day green smoothie cleanse might be tempting, it’s most likely better to keep it at 3 days.
3. Incorporate Healthy Fats
Even when you’re on a smoothie cleanse, it’s important to incorporate a balance of all macronutrients nutrients into your diet. The downfall of many smoothie cleanses is that they only contain carbohydrates from the sugar in fruits and vegetables. You can incorporate healthy fats into your smoothie diet by adding a spoonful of peanut butter, almond butter, or coconut oil into your smoothies.
4. Drink Lots of Water
You may be following a liquid diet, but this doesn’t mean you should forgo water! Drinking plenty of water is extremely important on the smoothie cleanse, in order to stay healthy. Though water is present in other liquids like smoothies or juice, your body has to work hard to separate the water molecules from the other components in the drink. Therefore, to stay properly hydrated, it’s always a good idea to drink lots of water.
5. Avoid Dairy
To help make sure that the smoothie cleanse decreases systemic inflammation as much as possible, steer away from dairy products in your smoothies. Even though milk and yogurt are excellent sources of protein, there is also evidence that they can increase an inflammatory marker in the body called trimethylamine N-oxide. Instead, opt for plant-based milk
6. Reintroduce Solid Foods Slowly
This one is more important if you’ve done a smoothie cleanse for longer than a day. Your digestive system will need a little bit of time to readjust when you start eating solid foods again. Avoid eating a massive meal at the end of your smoothie cleanse, since this can overwhelm the stomach and cause a stomach ache.
7. Go Shopping Before You Start Your Smoothie Cleanse
It’s best to prepare for your smoothie cleanse before you actually start it. Make a shopping list and purchase all of the fruits, veggies, plant milk, and other ingredients that you need to make your smoothies. This will help you stick to the smoothie cleanse for its full duration, so hunger doesn’t catch you off guard while you have no smoothie ingredients in the house.
8. Use High-Quality Protein Supplements
Making sure that your smoothies contain protein is of utmost importance. This is because dietary protein offers essential amino acids, which are crucial components for many biological processes. Although the body is able to synthesize non-essential amino acids internally, the body requires a balanced dietary intake of essential amino acids on a daily basis in order to function optimally. Balanced ratios of essential amino acids are needed each day to maintain muscle mass as well as to synthesize neurotransmitters, hormones, and enzymes.
For the same reasons described above, stick to vegan protein powder supplements or essential amino acid supplements, to ensure that your smoothies have the most potent anti-inflammatory effect possible.
9. Avoid Adding Sugar
Adding sugar to your smoothies will blunt the health benefits of consuming smoothies. To make sure that the smoothies are tasty and enjoyable to consume, sweeten with ripe bananas, dates, apples, mango, and any of your favorite sweet fruits. If you want to increase the sweetness without using dates or other fruit, add a little bit of a sweetener like Stevia or erythritol.
10. Drink Green Tea
Green tea is a powerful antioxidant that decreases inflammation in the body. Drinking a cup of green tea each day is a good habit to get into, regardless of whether you are following a smoothie cleanse diet.
Green tea contains caffeine, so it is best consumed in the morning. If you enjoy drinking tea before bed, choose a different caffeine-free herbal tea to sip on in the evening.
11. Continue Healthy Eating Habits After the Smoothie Cleanse Is Over
The purpose of a smoothie cleanse is to serve as a figurative “reset button” for the body. After your digestive system has had a break and you’ve finished the smoothie cleanse, you will likely be feeling energized and refreshed. Making a few simple changes to your normal diet can help ensure that these feelings persist for a long time after your smoothie cleanse has ended. Here are the main guidelines for altering your eating habits after the smoothie cleanse, to help you feel your best.
- Eat mainly whole foods. At least 80% of your diet should be made up of whole foods. Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed or minimally processed, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, organic lean meats, and fish. Opt for healthy meals and limit products like soda, ice cream, sugary breakfast cereals, granola bars, and prepared frozen meals should be minimized.
- Drink plenty of water. Continuing to drink plenty of water, you help your body clear out waste products while also supporting the smooth operation of all cellular processes.
12. Make a Variety of Smoothies
Making a variety of smoothies helps keep your taste buds satisfied. Mixing up the flavors in your smoothies also helps prevent boredom and increases the likelihood that you’ll stick to the smoothie cleanse for its duration.
Keep in mind that not all pre-made smoothie products are healthy. It’s always best to prepare your own smoothies, so you know exactly what ingredients are being used. Avoid detox teas and other products that might contain harmful additives and preservatives.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor and a nutritionist before participating in a smoothie cleanse, juice cleanse, or fast. It’s important to make sure that a smoothie cleanse is not harmful to your body or any conditions you might have.
If you’re planning on doing a smoothie cleanse, it’s helpful to have some tasty, healthy recipe ideas on hand.
Green Smoothie Recipe
This smoothie is packed with superfoods like leafy greens and citrus fruit that offer tons of antioxidants and vitamin C. Combine spinach, kale, green apple, a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, peel raw ginger, lemon juice, and pitted dates in a blender with almond milk and ice. To increase the nutritional value of the smoothie, add in a little bit of spirulina, which is a type of algae that offers minerals and antioxidants. As a bonus, spirulina gives your smoothie an even more robust green color.
This smoothie contains ingredients that many people consider to be “detoxing” ingredients. Apple cider vinegar is a popular detoxification agent believed to reduce bloating and help fight against metabolic conditions. At least some of the hype seems to be supported by science. A review published by researchers at the Department of Nutrition at Arizona State University found that vinegar, in general, may have antimicrobial properties as well as beneficial impacts on blood sugar and blood pressure. (1)
Berry Vanilla Smoothie
This smoothie is filled with protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants. Blend frozen raspberries, frozen blueberries, frozen sliced banana, and soymilk in a blender. Add a tablespoon each of ground chia seeds and ground flaxseeds for omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein. To ensure that you’re getting the amino acids that your body needs for the day, add in an essential amino acid supplement.
Tropical Twist Smoothie
This smoothie contains tropical fruits, hydrating coconut water, and powerful anti-inflammatory compounds. Combine frozen or fresh mango, frozen pineapple, frozen sliced banana, and coconut water in the blender. If you want a creamier texture and healthy fats, add a small handful of raw cashews to your smoothie. Sprinkle in a little bit of turmeric for extra antioxidants; don’t worry, you won’t taste the turmeric. As an added bonus, turmeric also adds a vibrant yellow color to your smoothie.
Peanut Butter Banana Shake
This shake is perfect when you are starving and need something more filling to serve as a meal substitute when you’re doing a smoothie cleanse. Combine frozen bananas, peanut butter, ground flaxseeds, avocado, cocoa powder, essential amino acid powder, and soymilk in a blender for a shake that’s packed with healthy fats, protein, and flavor.
This hydrating smoothie is perfect for those times when you’re craving something other than water to quench your thirst. Watermelon is packed with antioxidants like lycopene and vitamin C that boost your immune health. Blend ripe watermelon chunks with a few ice cubes, and enjoy!
The mild flavor of this unique smoothie makes it a perfect smoothie for any time of the day, or when you’re not sure what you feel like. Combine ripe honeydew melon with ice cubes and fresh mint leaves for a hydrating smoothie that’s filled with vitamin C.
Acai berries are native to the Amazon and have become increasingly popular in the United States with the acai smoothie bowl fad. However, it seems that acai berries live up to the hype because of their high antioxidant content. Though difficult to find fresh, acai can be purchased in frozen packets at the grocery store. Because acai berries are naturally more bitter than other fruits, blend with a few frozen cherries, frozen banana slices, and/or pitted dates. You can amp up the nutrient content of your acai smoothie with frozen beets for healthy nitrates and extra antioxidants.
This smoothie is comparable to a cold vegetable soup like gazpacho, and provides an interesting diversion from the sweet flavors associated with fruit smoothies. Add fresh tomatoes, celery, onion, carrot, cucumber, and lemon juice to a blender. Add fresh herbs of your choice, such as basil and cilantro, and season with sea salt and pepper. Want a little more kick in your veggie smoothie? Add a dash of cayenne pepper and hot sauce to taste. If you want a smoothie with a thinner consistency, add a little bit of water to the blender.
Conclusion: Following a Smoothie Cleanse
A smoothie cleanse can be a healthy reset for the body if done in a healthy and safe way. It’s important to make sure that your cleanse doesn’t last for longer than a few days, and that your smoothies contain a balance of nutrients to prevent any deficiencies. To continue to enjoy the benefits of a smoothie cleanse, alter your eating habits so that you consume primarily whole foods and very few processed products.