The Best Alternative to “The Juice Cleanse” Ever

Juice Cleanse? Try the Ice Cream and Peanut Butter Cleanse! It’s probably healthier—certainly cheaper.

During this morning’s gym routine, I caught up on a Skeptoid podcast which debunked the nutritional claims by the various juice cleanse proponents. So, naturally, I thought I’d do the math and see if I couldn’t come up with something healthier, cheaper, and more delicious.

(Side note: Brian’s Skeptoid show is fantastic, as are the piles of research he does for every show. Thanks to Sarah Downey for the recommendation.)

Blueprint FoundationAs a benchmark, I started with BluePrint’s Foundation Cleanse which, according to the marketing, seemed most appropriate for most cleanse-seeking persons (hereafter referred to as “cleansers”). It was also the first result for “juice cleanse” on your favorite search engine.

The Foundation Cleanse is six bottles of juice, taken sequentially, with the following daily nutritional footprint. In sum:

KCal: 1,010
Fat: 19 grams (Saturated: 3 g)
Carb: 197 grams (Fiber: 14 g, Sugar: 171 g)
Protein: 14 grams

Complete Data Available Here

What I find particularly amusing is that, according to BluePrint, The Foundation Cleanse “fills you up [...]”, but with 171g of sugar comprising most of the caloric intake, I find that difficult to stomach. (Har har.) You see, sugar is quickly digested and quickly burned, rendering the cleanser with energy spikes after every bottle and isn’t, I’m afraid, terribly filling.

Moreover, the total caloric load is 1,010 KCal, below the average number of calories most people spend in a day just to exist. (Also called the Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR, the averages for men and women are about 1,500 and 1,650 kilocalories a day, respectively.)

If you’re trying to lose weight (which, I’d venture, is why most cleansers subscribe to a juice cleanse), consuming below your caloric usage is generally a sound idea. However, operating on a high-sugar, caloric-restrictive diet will cause most people, experienced cleansers included, to lose lean mass (muscle) and not fat mass (pudginess). For those who value popular fashion aesthetics, this cleanse is the stark opposite to what cleansers ought to be doing. They will lose weight, but it’s not the weight they want to be losing.

However, the point of this exercise isn’t to admonish BluePrint or its product’s nutritional values and composition—it’s to come up with something equally absurd, wonderful, and by all means tastier. And it’s with this in mind that I bring you my latest creation:

The Ice Cream, Peanut Butter, and Split Pea Cleanse

The goal here was to create a “cleanse” with a similar caloric load to our benchmark, but with macronutrients portioned to reduce insulin spikes, include sufficient fiber, stave off hunger, and—most importantly—maximize gluttony.

While The Foundation Cleanse features six consumption opportunities throughout the day, The ICPBSP Cleanse can be consumed all in one sitting; or, if the cleanser chooses, throughout the day thusly:

Meal 1: 1/2 Cup Cooked Split Peas
Meal 2: 1/2 Cup Vanilla Ice Cream
Meal 3: 2 Tbsp Creamy Peanut Butter
Meal 4: 1/4 Cup Cooked Split Peas
Meal 5: 1/2 Cup Vanilla Ice Cream
Meal 6: 2 Tbsp Creamy Peanut Butter

Meals 1 and 2, 3 and 4, 5 and 6 may also be combined if so desired. I’m not picky.

Most acutely, the daily nutritional footprint of The ICPBSP Cleanse is as follows:

KCal: 1,093
Fat: 71 grams (Saturated: 29 g)
Carb: 87 grams (Fiber: 16 g, Sugar 53 g)
Protein: 36 grams

In comparison with the Foundation Cleanse, this nutritional footprint features 50% more protein, 50% fewer carbs, and 65% fewer sugars, all with equivalent fiber portions, calorie for calorie.

Did I mention this cleanse features one cup of Haagen Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream, four tablespoons of Skippy Peanut Butter, and less than a cup of cooked split peas? I could’ve spent time selecting more nutritionally-advantageous products, but given the sugar contents of the benchmark, I felt I didn’t need to bother with any of that. I leave it as an exercise to the reader.

Also important to note, this diet features three times the amount of fat as The Foundation Cleanse. This is intentional: fats (and proteins) will keep cleansers much more sated than the equivalent caloric load in carbohydrates. Contrary to popular belief, eating fats doesn’t (necessarily) make you fat. Granted, there’s a lot of fat in this cleanse, but it’s more likely you’ll be able to stick to this one over the low-fat, low-protein Foundation Cleanse. And with the little bit of extra fiber in the ICPBSP Cleanse, it’ll digest just as easily (assuming the cleanser isn’t lactose intolerant or anything).

In my mind, there are two purported purposes to a cleanse: rid your body of toxins and restore nutritional balance in your body. Regardless of whether or not that’s what actually happens during a cleanse (spoiler: it’s not), the overall byproduct of this dietary exercise leaves cleansers to operate with a lower caloric intake. So, for my money, go with which one you’re more likely to stick with.

Speaking of which, The Foundation Cleanse will cost you more than $65 per day (not including shipping) whereas the ICPBSP Cleanse costs $4* per day and is available at every grocery store in America and can be purchased with food stamps.

Ultimately, for cleansers who opt to cleanse, the choice is simple: either go with expensive mail-order green and white juice goop, or enjoy a simple diet of Ice Cream, Peanut Butter, and cooked Split Peas.

Truthfully, though, I wouldn’t recommend either.

Update: A few people have written me to say that there are some benefits to the properties of organically-produced, vitamin-enriched drinks. In response, swap out Skippy for an organic peanut butter supplier and Haagen Dazs for a locally-farmed vanilla bean ice cream concoction and add a multivitamin for an additional $1-2 per day and equivalent organic and vitamin-enrichment. Oh, and drink water.

*Prices as of November 14th, 2012 according to FreshDirect.com. (Daily portion wise: $3 for the Ice Cream, $.50 for the Peanut Butter, and $.50 for the Split Peas.)

3 comments
gruen
gruen

Javier, let me go through your response paragraph by paragraph.

Intro: I actually address caloric load, macronutrient balance, and meal-timing. This post could be considered superficial, yes, but links to a much more reasoned article which I encourage you also to read. (Also, this: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/113493/idiotic-cleanse-craze-and-modern-theology-juice-fasts). You should also note I don't recommend this diet as it is, on some level, satire.

1: Other than how you "feel" during a one-week sugar-high, I don't have much to respond to here other than, "of course drinking your calories is less time-consuming than sitting down to eat them". If that's the case, you may take my alternate-cleanse and put everything into a blender so you can drink it. I'd still feel the same way about the macronutrient load. Customer service is paid to get you to buy their product, so I'm not sure why you'd trust them to give you sound nutritional advice. Moreover, you can fast for a week (or more!) before you're at risk of rotting into a corpse.

2: Again, all you really do on a juice cleanse is ingest carbohydrates. So, I'm uncertain how you derailed your carb consuming routine other than beyond a placebo effect. Drinking cane sugar soda and eating gummy bears while chewing on wheat grass would give you nearly the same effect as a juice cleanse... if you believed it.

3: Cleanses can be great catalysts, but there's little in the actual juice that makes it a great catalyst. That you DID something is. Your digestive system doesn't need a break so much as your mind thinks it does, because your gut's got shit for brains. (So does mine.)

Penultimate paragraph: This isn't an article and I'm not suggesting by any means anyone do it. I do have personal experience with the product where friends buy this crap without doing their homework. I've seen what happens and the resulting crash afterwards, combined with the lean mass loss and increase in fat mass. Yes, you'll lose weight, but it's not the weight you want to be losing.

Last paragraph: I'm dismissing it because it's bad science and horrible nutritional advice. Juicing also furthers the myth that fitness and health come through quick fixes rather than diligent habit-breaking and more beneficial long-term diets. There's nothing about a juice cleanse that cleanses much of anything... except maybe some muscle mass from your skeleton. It's irresponsible for me NOT to dismiss it as pseudoscience at best.

Lastly, I'd mention that I have eaten paper and it does not taste good.

Javier Cobo
Javier Cobo

Ach. Totally lame, superficial article. You criticize something by looking at one aspect of its nutritional content. That's like saying eating paper is good for you because it has lots of fiber. Had you interviewed "cleansers," you'd ind out that these juice routines have huge benifits beyond these basic numbers.

1. We don't need to be sticking so much food in our bodies. Before I cleansed, I was skeptical about taking in 1000 calories a day. I called their customer service three times before buyin because I had this idea I would waste away for lowering my food consumption this much. What I found was that I didn't need to constantly "feel full" to be healthy and satisfied. I went to the bathroom less and was able to focus on all kinds of additional things at work and in my personal life because I wasn't constantly feeding my face to meet high caloric intake requirements.

2. I felt f...ing GREAT. Yes. I was hungry sometimes, but I was also FULL of energy. Not just right after drinking as you describe is an effect of the sugar, but all the time. I started running because my body was taken out if its carb consuming routine. The micronutrients (from raw, cold pressed juice) also probably had something to do w the clearheadedness and vigor I had.

3. This cleanse was a great catalysts for moving on to a better diet overall. I learned that just getting the vegetable plate at a restaurant is OK. I don't have to have meat at every meal to feel good. Giving my digestive system a break actually gives me energy to focus on other things. I order salads now when before I would have ordered cheese filled pasta.

This article completely excludes any of the benefits of juicing. It criticizes and mocks without any personal experience with the product. Just because you know some nitritional data doesn't mean you know everything about what makes the body thrive and helps people to grow.

One more note...I suspect this isn't the BEST juice cleanse out there. I've talked to regular juicers that agree that the sugar content in this one is pretty high. Having said that, juicing makes a tangible difference in people's lives and health and its irresponsible to dismiss it as this article does without any real experience.

Andrew
Andrew

Awesome. More nutritional, tastier, and cheaper? Patent that, man! Also, I realized that your writing reminds me of XKCD's What If series.

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