In theory, I love detox cleanses. The idea of spending three to five days concentrated solely on health and emerging energetic and, um, skinny, excites me. In reality, I can’t quite conjure the joy.
This is not to say that I don’t force myself through them on a semi-regular basis. I’ve tried a number of cleanses, from the popular BluePrint juice diet to the extreme Master Cleanse. I was excited when last week a friend (who is also into this stuff) recommended I try Gwyneth Paltrow’s regime from her GOOP newsletter. I was eager to try something new, something homemade that (I assumed) wouldn’t cost me too much. However, I ended up dumping the whole thing in three days.
Before I get into the GOOP detox, I should probably address why people willingly put themselves through hell. Aside from the obvious reason of dropping a few pounds pronto, in my experience cleanses help clear up your skin, leaving your complexion brighter. There’s a whole school of wisdom that suggests ridding your body of toxins can cure a variety of ailments, but according to the New York Times, Western doctors remain skeptical. Generally, however, it’s a good way to jump start a healthy diet or take a few days off from drinking or smoking.
GOOP Cleanse: Prescribed by Gwyneth’s specialist, Dr. Alejandro Junger, the seven-day menu consists of shakes, homemade juices, soups, salads, and simply prepared chicken and fish. Mornings start with lemon water, tea, and tasty berry protein shakes. In the afternoon, you eat a salad with avocado, another shake, or broccoli soup. At first glance, the GOOP cleanse is incredibly appealing. It’s not too extreme, thanks to the solid foods, and the recipes are pretty tasty. The DIY factor and lower cost is also a plus. Yet, I found, lower cost does not equal low cost. My grocery list had more than 40 items on it, including some high-cost ones like protein powder (about $15) and ProGreens powder (about $30). Had I purchased my entire list, I estimate my grand total would have come to about $180. That’s not too bad, considering many cleanse companies charge as much as $75 per day. The time commitment became an issue. There’s a lot of prep work, and I found that going about my day didn’t always leave time for me to juice beets or make soup. While I was excited to morph into Gwyneth (literally, this was my vision) by day seven, I knew my schedule wasn’t going to allow it. So, I had to quit after day three, leaving lots of unused produce in my fridge.
Blueprint Cleanse: At first only for NYC locals, Blueprint has gone national with its expanded delivery options and gained popularity thanks to celeb fans and press galore. On this liquid-only program, you drink six juices per day, which include kale and apple, beet, lemonade, and cashew milk, depending on the level on intensity (Renovation, Foundation, Excavation). I’m a fan of this program for its ease, but not for the starvation factor or price. For a three-day Renovation cleanse, you’ll pay $195. If you’re serious about sticking to it, it’s worth the expense. If you prepare your body before and after with lots of liquids and raw foods, you can extend its effects.
Master Cleanse: Commonly referred to as the “Lemonade Diet,” the Master Cleanse is truly for people on the crazy wagon (or who have supernatural endurance). It is guaranteed that you will lose weight on the mixture of cayenne pepper, water, lemon, and maple syrup, which is supposedly enough to sustain you for days. That’s not the worst of it. Once a day, you do a salt water flush and drink senna tea to eliminate everything in your colon. There are generally two reactions to this regime. Those like my friend Chrysanthe don’t last a day through the torture, fatigue, and hunger. “I couldn’t do it because I worked in a cafe. I think you’d have to sit in a dark room and not have to be on your feet at all,” she told me. Then there are others who have a magical reaction to the mixture by reportedly losing their appetite all together and experiencing crazy energy. Another friend, Jeralyn, 26, who did the cleanse for eight days, reported that the greatest effect was on her skin: “The one comment I kept getting from friends was that my skin was glowing. Everyone remarked about it. It looked flawless—really! I usually have discoloration and I have a lot a beauty marks, and it diminished the appearance of both for sure (I noticed that).” One thing’s for certain. Committing oneself to the Master Cleanse means abandoning your social life if you’re the type who eats out frequently or bar hops. Of all cleanses, this one is the cheapest but the most difficult to endure.
Photo credits: Goop.com, Gothamist.com, TheMasterCleanse.org