We Tried Cleanses So You Don’t Have To

By YouBeauty Editors
Two weeks, 24 juices, 50 shakes, 14 chicken breasts, 6 salads and one mental breakdown later, six YB editors cleansed and detoxed and lived to tell the tale.

Posted on | By YouBeauty Editors

Maybe you're looking around at all the beach bums in little bitty shorts and thinking, dang, how can I look like that?

First of all, you probably look great and are just being hard on yourself, but we get it. After a tough winter and rainy spring holed up inside eating comfort food, it can be a bit of a shock to have to suddenly bust out the bikini. Maybe you think you need to try something drastic and are considering a cleanse or detox to shed unwanted pudge.

For the record, here at YouBeauty, we're not the biggest fans of drastic cleanses. Your body is an amazing machine, quite capable of ridding itself of nasty stuff if you stop putting garbage in it. And there isn't any great science backing up the benefits of cleanses or juice fasts.

But we're human, and curious. That's why seven cleanse virgins set out on a research project to personally try some of the hottest cleanses on the market to see if they lived up to the hype. Click through to find which ones made us feel great and which ones almost killed us.

Next: The Butcher's Daughter Cleanse & Trim Package

Cleanse: The Butcher’s Daughter Cleanse & Trim Package - Level 02: Cut Choice Plan (note: Right now this cleanse is pick-up only, so if you live in the New York area, you’re in luck!)

Length: 3 days

Price: $55/day

Reviewer: Laura Kenney, Editor in Chief

The Butcher’s Daughter is a natural food café filled with impossibly good-looking people, nestled on the border of Manhattan’s Lower East Side and NoLIta neighborhoods. They serve delicious health-minded food with a vegetarian slant, and the fresh, rustic-chic décor makes you feel like you’re hunkered down on a glamorous farm, right off the gritty Bowery.

I’ve never before done a cleanse; But I’ve been around my fair share of co-workers going through one, ducking and covering from their collective misery. So I went conservative with my choice of cleanses (Butcher’s Daughter offers three levels of cleanses, ranging from one to five days for each), choosing the "Level 02: Choice Cut" plan, which allowed me one elixir, four juices, one smoothie and one raw food salad, all made fresh for me that morning at The Butcher’s Daughter’s cute café in downtown Manhattan.

The first day was rough. The Butcher’s Daughter team recommends preparing for the cleanse by cutting out caffeine and alcohol a few days before. I didn’t, and I now understand the wisdom there – on day one I was very shaky, probably due to the lack of caffeine. But days two and three were much easier (I may have cheated on the caffeine with a little green tea), and I felt light and energetic. I felt like I could keep going with the cleanse indefinitely (though it did feel VERY good to break it at a wine tasting!).

I noticed some very positive effects on my body. My tummy felt flatter, and I lost a little of the puffiness I sometimes feel around my middle section. I felt and looked leaner. My skin tends to get little reddish breakouts at the end of the day. It’s not rosacea, but it’s my belief that these tiny breakouts are brought on by lifestyle factors like stress and diet. I did not experience them while I was cleansing.

I would definitely do this cleanse again, and next time, I would go longer – five days, here I come!

Next: The Happy Cleanse by Joulebody and Bliss

Cleanse: The Happy Cleanse by Joulebody and Bliss

Length: 3 days

Cost: $279

Reviewer: Julie Giusti, Social Media Manager

This cleanse claims to energize and detoxify without making you feel deprived like other juice cleanses. Juices and pre-packaged meals were delivered cold and ready to go. No preparation was required on my part – all I had to do was consume the required juices, meal, or snacks every day at 9 a.m., 12 p.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., in accordance with the schedule they provided for me.

Each day started with a grapefruit mint juice (energizing and so wonderful), lunch was either a raw salad, lentil salad or butternut squash soup, the daily 3 p.m. meal was berry carrot juice, and 7 p.m. dinner was the most substantial meal of the day (example: The Spicy Mung Bean Burger Wrap and Carrot Ginger Sauce). Even though the dinners appeared to be super small, they turned out to be the perfect portion size. Joulebody included detox-approved snacks in the box (meal-replacement bars and “cookies” made with buckwheat and mesquite flour) that you could eat whenever you wanted.

I followed the plan 98 percent as directed. The only time I fell out of step was when forgot to take my dinner out of the fridge before leaving work on day two. (I had carrots and hummus that night as a substitute.)

The cleanse made me pee a lot. I lost a lot of water weight and gained a lot of energy. I felt like I had a second wind all day long, and I didn’t wake up feeling exhausted like I normally do. At the time I was cleansing, I had a very long commute that had me waking up at stupid early hours of the morning. I always felt hungover by default, even if I hadn’t had a sip of alcohol the night before. The most significant benefit I saw while I was on the cleanse was that I woke up feeling like a million dollars. Energized, not hungry, and just amazing.

I’d recommend the cleanse to someone who has never cleansed before because it’s not a juice-only cleanse – it has solid food, so you don’t feel like you’re starving yourself. As a newbie, deprivation was my biggest concern because I knew I wouldn’t be strict with myself if I was hungry and cranky – it was just the most realistic approach for me. Probably not the best choice if you’re looking for a dramatic result like losing significant poundage. But a great intro to cleanses and a great way to energize and boost your mood after a sluggish winter.

Next: Kaeng Raeng

Cleanse: Kaeng Raeng

Length: 3 days

Cost: $70

Reviewer: Courtney Dunlop, Executive Editor

I am a cleanse skeptic, meaning I usually pooh pooh them by saying things like, “If you don’t want junk in your system, just don’t eat junk.” And while I maintain that the body is highly effective at removing yucky stuff from its system, after a particularly sluggish and comfort-food-filled winter, I felt like I needed a bit of a jumpstart.

The Kaeng Raeng detox cleanse claims to eliminate waste in the body, decrease cravings and improve digestion. You drink three shakes a day, made from a powder that contains freeze-dried fruit powder, non-GMO soy protein, vitamins and probiotics, that you mix with either plain water, or with fruit and ice for a smoothie. To alleviate hunger in between shakes, you can snack on fresh fruit and vegetables.

I went the plain water route, and maybe if I had chosen the smoothie method the cleanse would have been easier for me. Only having fruit shakes for nourishment is rough. By the afternoon of the first day, I had a headache and couldn’t function as a human being. I broke and ate dinner.

After that, I decided a modified cleanse was the only way I could do it. So, for days two and three, I had the shakes for breakfast and lunch and then ate dinner. I figure that’s better than not doing it at all.

Maybe I didn’t have a lot in my system to clean out, but I didn’t really notice a difference with puffiness or energy levels. Of course that could be because I didn’t follow the cleanse like I was supposed to. But I will say this: The cleanse definitely reduced my appetite and decreased my cravings. I don’t find myself as starving for meals as I used to, and my sweet tooth has diminished greatly. So although going three days without eating meals is really tough, if your cravings and appetite are out of control, Kaeng Raeng could be just what you need.

Next: The Vitamin Shoppe AM/PM Power Cleanse

Cleanse: The Vitamin Shoppe AM/PM Power Cleanse

Length: Until you feel more regular

Cost: $17

Reviewer: Valerie Fischel, Photo Editor

The Vitamin Shoppe AM/PM Power Cleanse is a system of two bottles of fiber and herb supplements packed with probiotics and blends of fruits, vegetables, roots and herbs that decrease inflammation, aid digestion and guarantee evacuation. You start the cleanse by taking one of each vitamin in the morning, and the same in the evening, increasing the dosage for one of each every other day. No changes in diet necessary, though I curbed my fiber intake since I normally eat a lot of fiber, and I ate healthy as always.

By the end of the week, I was taking 12 supplements a day (they advise not to exceed 12 per day). I'll spare you the details concerning the three to four bowel movements I was having a day, which at times proved to be a bit of an inconvenience, but thankfully, not of the extremely urgent kind; though for the first two days I had none.

The cleanse promises regularity, not weight loss. The thought of being cleaned out was nice. Exercising during this cleanse sometimes felt a bit sloshy in the stomach region, and there was a lot of gurgling coming from my gut all week. Would I do it again? Maybe, but definitely not while on a trip to Europe, or in any situation where I don't have access to a (fairly nice, private) bathroom. This would be great for people suffering from constipation or bloating. Overall, there are a lot of beneficial herbs and vitamins in the kit and pooping is healthy, so no harm done.

Next: David Kirsch Wellness 5-Day Ultimate Detox

Cleanse: David Kirsch Wellness 5-Day Ultimate Detox

Length: 5 days

Cost: $95

Reviewer: Amy Marturana, Editorial Assistant

This cleanse promises to detoxify and re-energize without depriving you. The goal is to give your body the nutrients it needs and get a healthier, slimmer body and a clearer mind.

First thing when you wake up, drink the “A.M. Daily Detox” (berry flavored powder, mixed with 4 ounces of water). For breakfast, mix the Protein Plus shake mix with the Super Charged Greens Blend into 8 ounces of water. For lunch, eat a salad of only greens drizzled with lemon juice and 4 ounces of skinless grilled chicken or other lean protein. For dinner, make a shake of one Protein Plus packet, or repeat the lunch option. No coffee or caffeine is allowed – at all.

Subsisting on 800-ish calories a day was impossible for me. Within an hour of drinking my breakfast shake on the first day, I was starving. Immediately after my miniscule salad, I was ready for another meal. And it didn’t get easier as the days went on. The cleanse comes with the option of drinking David Kirsch’s Thermo Bubbles to curb your appetite between breakfast and lunch, but since I didn’t have that, I added a snack after lunch of raw walnuts. To take the edge off my searing withdrawal-fueled headache, I drank green tea (still a detox from my usual three cups of coffee per day). However, I was still exhausted with a dull headache every night by 8 p.m. By the second day, the chalky green breakfast shake was pretty hard to keep down. My cheating grew to first adding a few handfuls of granola on the second day, and then by the third day, I ate a real dinner – I just couldn’t handle the hunger pangs or grumpiness any longer. At the end of the fourth day, I decided to call it quits.

I don’t own a scale, but I didn’t notice my clothes fitting any differently, so I’d say there was no weight loss. It’s hard to say if it de-bloated me or not, because the moment I decided I was done, I binge ate pizza and ice cream. Cleansing really didn’t curb my cravings for carbs and sugar – if anything, it intensified them. And I didn't experience that positive turn for the better or magical burst of energy and satisfaction that many people claim to feel midway through cleanses. On the positive side, it definitely helped me detox from my caffeine addiction, and I’ve been drinking only one cup of coffee a day since. Oh and my skin definitely looked clearer and brighter – big plus.

Although the cleanse says it doesn't deprive you, that's how I felt. Maybe it's because I'm normally a very healthy eater, so I didn't have tons of toxins or yucky stuff to get out of my system. I generally allow myself a little bit of the unhealthy foods that I crave in small does so I can get my fix without overindulging, so I found that completely depriving myself of anything carby, starchy, sweet and sugary just made me want it all even more.

Next: Cooler Cleanse

Cleanse: Cooler Cleanse

Length: 3 days

Price: $58 per day, including delivery

Reviewer: Genevieve Stack, Intern

Three days, 18 juices, seven pounds and one cheeseburger later, I am here to report that Cooler Cleanse means business. As a juicing newbie I chose the three-day cleanse and followed the directions to the letter ... almost.

The Cooler Cleanse told me to drink the six daily juices in order, about two hours apart and with plenty of water throughout the day. Each day began with an iron-packed green juice, Sweet Greens. Juices one, three, five and six replaced breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert respectively and were the main sources of vitamins, nutrients and minerals. Juices two and four, which varied each day, helped keep me hydrated, activate my digestive system, increase my metabolism and stabilize my alkalinity. I finished each day with juice number six, Almond Milk, which contains the most calories and claims to provide daily protein and copper to stimulate detoxification.

The cleanse promised to make me feel lighter and more energized, as long as I stuck to their guidelines. The rules were simple and made sense. Most of the juices were downright delicious. So, except for cutting the number three midday Essential Green with apple juice, I listened and followed the rules. (What can I say; those dandelion greens were not for me.)

Juice and only juice, all day every day, is tough. The Cooler Cleanse people know this, so they are sure to explain what to do if you find yourself needing something to chew on or something sweeter. As long as you stick to the principle of the cleanse, for example using organic freshly made apple juice, then you won’t undo the detoxing work all those gulps have accomplished.

Aside from a few hunger pains and slowly losing my appetite, the biggest effect this cleanse had was on my energy level. Of course with only 1,200 calories a day I was bound to move a little slower, but this did present a problem with my active lifestyle and 14-hour-long days. My reaction time was dulled, and I was exhausted by small efforts during my “on my feet” job at a gym.

Granted, my life as a multitasking 23-year-old recent grad, is not traditional. I would still suggest keeping to a low activity and stable schedule with, as recommended, a full eight hours of sleep each night. At least for the three detox days.

After the three days were over I felt great. I lost seven pounds, finished something I never thought I could do, and was allowed to eat again. Now here is the trick. I have eaten well my whole life. I generally avoid processed foods, I eat well-rounded meals, make sure I know every ingredient that I am putting in my body and try to avoid excess sugars, salts and dairy. There was not much to cleanse in my system to begin with. So, aside from the water weight lost, who is to say if I felt refreshed Friday morning because of the juice or because I was actually feeding myself for the first time in days.

Either way, The Cooler Cleanse delivered on its promise. I felt lighter, more energetic and refreshed for days, even after my celebratory cheeseburger.

Next: Be Well Cleanse by Dr. Frank Lipman

Cleanse: Be Well Cleanse by Dr. Frank Lipman

Length: 14 days

Cost: $199

Reviewer: Amanda Schupak, Science Editor

Frank Lipman, M.D.’s Be Well cleanse is like pressing the reset button – and holding it down for 14 days. The basic idea is to eliminate all the things from your diet that might be making you feel less than awesome: gluten, dairy, nightshades, sugar, red meat, most seafood, soy, peanuts, alcohol and caffeine. The detox is supposed to result in more energy, less bloating and stomach upset, glowing skin, reduced pain and some weight loss. Once you’ve gone cold (organic, free range) turkey for two weeks, you can start reintroducing these things slowly back into your diet to suss out any sensitivities.

The routine is simple: a prepackaged shake in the morning, another in the late morning, light lunch (with included digestive enzyme pill pack), an afternoon shake, light dinner (with pill pack). The shakes weren’t bad at first and I mixed them with almond milk to make them more palatable. But by the end I was sick of the taste and chugged each one as fast as I could – probably not how you’re supposed to do it.

It wasn’t tough to abide by the long list of no-no foods when I was able to cook for myself. It was harder, though not impossible, to dine out. If you do this cleanse, I suggest you pick an empty fortnight on the social calendar. (Full disclosure: I had a couple food-related engagements that I was unwilling to cancel, so I broke twice – once for half a gluten-free bagel with a schmear of cream cheese and once for a total blowout lunch at a fancy French restaurant at which I don’t think I missed a single banned ingredient.)

How’d it go for me? OK, not amazing. A quick recap: On day two I was so drained I took a nap at my desk. I’m talking a full-on, dreaming, drooling on my keyboard nap. Day three I couldn’t get out of bed and showed up to work at 11:45 a.m. After that, I felt back to normal but can’t exactly say I felt energized. I lived without my morning coffee, but capitalized on the cup-a-day of green tea the cleanse allows for weak people like me. The scale says I lost four or five pounds. My jeans say otherwise, but I’ll take what I can get.

What struck me the most about the whole experience was the nearly complete lack of sugar cravings. Let me be clear: I do not skip dessert after dinner and I usually have something sweet in the afternoon. Yet somehow I was able to go an unprecedented 14 dinners and 13 lunches without caving and almost without caring. Yes, I had one meltdown in which I spewed a string of expletives at a co-worker who would not shut up about some amazing candy she was eating, but she was asking for it. I didn’t even take the L-Glutamine tablets that Lipman provides to curb sugar cravings.

Overall, I didn’t feel or look any different after two weeks. My theory: Sweet tooth notwithstanding, I eat pretty well and maybe I don’t have any major food sensitivities. That said, it’s been a week since I finished and I get full quicker than before and I haven’t fallen completely off the sugar-wagon. Reset complete.

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