Slim fast? The truth about juice fasting

There's a popular way to approach dieting and resetting with whole fruits and vegetables - juice fasting. Interested in giving a juice fast a whirl? 

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Here's what you need to know, including the types of juice fasts, potential health benefits and potential health risks.

Basics of juice fasting

Juice fasting, often referred to as juice cleansing, involves eating only juiced fresh fruits and vegetables for a set amount of time. Juice fasts can last anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks.

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On average, the amount of daily calories in a juice fast falls in the 1,000 to 1,200 range. For protein and fat, adding nut milks is sometimes recommended. 

Juicing is a way to get fruits and vegetables — and their nutrients — into your diet. (Jill Toyoshiba/Kansas City Star/MCT) (JILL TOYOSHIBA)

To make the juice, you'll need a juicer. There are Auger-style juicers (cold-press juicers) and juice extractors, which tend to remove the pulp from the juice.

Some of the most popular juice fasts and cleanses include:

  • Master cleanse: Often referred to as the Lemonade Diet, the Master Cleanse is a popular 10-day juice fast in which dieters drink a mix of fresh lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water. Six to 12 glasses are recommended per day during the fast - or whenever hunger strikes. Taking a laxative before bed is also recommended.
  • Blueprint cleanse: For those interested in a juice fast, but with zero interest in the actual juicing, there's the Blueprint. Choose from a three-, five- or 10-day juice fast and have six cold-pressed juices per day delivered to your door. All Blueprint juices are organic. 
  • Green juice fast: More of a smoothie than a juice, this 10-day cleanse involves making green smoothies of kale, spinach, arugula and whatever other greens you like. You can also snack on crunchy fruits and vegetables.
  • Arden's Garden: For a more local fasting option, try the two-day cleanse from Atlanta's own Arden's Garden. Each day, you drink a gallon of the detox juice, along with as much distilled water as you want.

Potential health benefits 

Apart from weight loss, many people who try juice fasts report being more alert, with higher levels of mental acuity and increased energy. It can also serve as a sort of reset, helping people break bad eating habits.

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Potential health risks 

Juice fasting, to some, is a form of detox and detoxes carry with them inherent health risks. Potential side effects of detoxes include low energy, dizziness, headaches, nausea and other symptoms. According to Liz Applegate, director of sports and nutrition at University of California Davis, another unpleasant side effect of juice fasts is "a change in bowel movements and frequent bathroom visits." As with any diet, people with pre-existing health conditions should consult a doctor before beginning a juice fast.

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