What's your first reaction when you hear someone say the word cleanse? From intermittent fasting to juice-only meals, different methods to clean and restart the body can sometimes leave us fearing fatigue and long bouts of hanger. Plus, cleanses can be tough. That's why the below options—the ice cream cleanse?!—caught our eye. But how do some of these wackier meal plans that promise to detox stack up in the nutritional department? Leslie Bonci, R.D. and director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Center for Sports Medicine weighs in. (And if you're looking for a proven way to detox, try our Non-Juice Detox: 7-Day Clean Eating Plan.)
The Blood Cleanse
For $119, this three-day juice cleanse lets you tap into your inner-vampire and claims to "make you feel like you could live forever." The prescribed five juices a day get their blood-red hue from the concentration of beets and berries and some come doctored up with protein powder, flax, peppermint, and fennel.
The verdict: The recommended daily amount of deep red fruits is two servings, so you'd only want to drink one juice a day—max (not five). This cleanse provides the benefit of getting berries or beets if you're not crazy about eating them, but we need to be having more color in our diet.
The Ice Cream Cleanse
What sounds like the only logical thing to partake in post-breakup, this four-day, 20 pint ice cream cleanse brings indulgence to another level. The coconut milk-based ice creams from Kippy's in Venice, CA set you back $240. And from one journalist's experience, the raw saturated fat advertised to "repair the gut" only made him feel worse in the end.
The verdict: Coconut oil is a saturated fat which—when consumed in excess—may increase the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and even age related macular degeneration, says Bonci. Although a little may not be harmful, consuming several servings of coconut oil-based ice cream is surely not healthy. So while this plan may seem like a dream come true for your taste buds, it's not such a great plan for your heart—or your waistline!
The Soup Cleanse
Promising that you'll be getting whole fruits and veggies (rind and all) throughout its duration, this $235 cleanse claims you'll be getting all your macro and micronutrients by sipping on the "predigested" texture of their soups. The plans are ultra-customizable with selection by temperature, number of days, and flavor.
The verdict: The protein content in several of these soups is pretty low (0 to 7g per serving) and even a few days of insufficient protein can accelerate muscle protein breakdown. This cleanse is awful priceyand has minimal texture, which is part of what makes eating enjoyable. Eating cleanly does not mean we have to give our teeth a rest, says Bonci.