Cleanses have been around for centuries, but it was Beyonce Knowles' dramatic 20-lb weight loss from using The Master Cleanse to prep for her role in Dream Girls that brought the therapy out of the "alternative" camp and firmly into popular culture.
With this new-found popularity, the number and type of cleanse diets has soared, from food-based "liver detoxes" to liquid-only fasts for several weeks and everything in between. While the extreme cleanses often get a bad rap—Beyonce confessed that drinking the maple syrup-lemon-cayenne pepper concoction made her "cranky"—many women swear by cleanse diets to lose weight, increase energy, and even help clear up acne.
Jeni S., a 31-year-old mom of two and group fitness instructor, first discovered cleanse diets after talking with a fellow fitness instructors. "I was complaining to her about my post-holiday bloat and she recommended I try a cleanse to 'flush' it all out and sort of reset everything." On her friend's recommendation, Jeni started with the Shakeology Jumpstart Cleanse—"a nutrient rich, calorie restrictive cleanse designed to help rid your body of undigested food and other toxins." She adds, "The goal is to get as many nutrients with as few calories as possible."
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For this particular cleanse, Jeni had to "drink three shakes (made with the proprietary Shakeology powder), drink 2 cups of green tea, and eat a salad for dinner with 3 to 4 servings of vegetables and only 4 ounces of lean poultry or fish. You can also have 1 to 2 pieces of fruit, and it it suggests you drink 2 to 4 liters of water a day."
You do this regimen for three days and also eliminate sugar, dairy, caffeine, and as much sodium as possible, she adds.
While the idea of a cleanse may seem daunting—that's a lot of foods to eliminate—Jeni says that in addition to the weight loss, about 4 pounds for her, it's great because "after doing the cleanse I feel really motivated to continue to eat clean because I don't want to undo the results."
There are some downsides, however. As she explains, "By day two you may as well have all your calls forwarded to the toilet because you will be spending a lot of time in the bathroom. The first time I did the cleanse, I was out with my kids at the mall when all of a sudden I needed a bathroom, stat! It was a nightmare, trying to pack everyone up and find the restroom. I learned the mall is not the place you want to be when your body starts trying to eliminate toxins."
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In addition Jeni says she has to avoid strenuous weight lifting or cardio workouts for those three days. "I end up stopping half-way through because I feel dizzy or weak and nauseous," she says.
All the sacrifice is worth it for her, though. "It definitely works, and I will continue to do the cleanse every 3 months as they recommend or after a long weekend or holiday!"