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.)

The Slow Carb Diet Experiment

The 4-hour Body Slow-Carb Diet (kind-of) worked for me. 9 lbs in 30 days.

In the Times Bestseller The Four Hour Body, Tim Ferriss outlined the slow-carb diet: a 6-days on and 1-day off diet for easy fat loss without exercising and starving oneself. I tried it for 30 days only concerning myself with the before and after, noting any major changes along the way. Here’s what went down:

Movement

The plan doesn’t stipulate any exercise, nor does it require it. In fact, my activity level was perhaps the worst in was in recent memory since reading period my senior year of college where I handcuffed myself to a couch in the campus coffee shop until I was done writing. My schedule looked something like this:

Monday through Friday

  • 9am wakeup.
  • 10ish to 7ish—desk time (with 15 minute takeout walk around 2ish, and 5 minute soup pickup around 6, or when hungry.)
  • 7ish to 8ish—commute home and errands
  • 8ish to 2ish—couch time (still working) and dinner

Saturday through Sunday

  • Intermittent spurts of productivity
  • Short run or low-intensity bike ride (20-40 minutes)
  • Movies, Coding, and Sparticus. From the Couch.
  • Seamlessweb.
  • 7pm – ?am: Reckless Spending on Various Activities


Diet

Sunday through Monday
(No dietary supplements other than water were used in this.)

  • Breakfast (9:15am)
    3 Pete and Gerrys AA organic whole eggs, pan-scrambled coated in non-stick spray. 1/2 can of Whole Foods Organic Black Beans (microwave). Organic Green Salsa (Medium Spicy).
  • Lunch (2ish)
    Option 1: Chipotle Burrito Bowl with no rice, Barbacoa Beef or Chicken, black beans, with the following optional mixes: all salsas, sour cream, corn, lettuce, guacamole. Never cheese. Never rice. Never Tortilla.
    Option 2: Sashimi lunch special with soup or salad. No rice.
  • Snack (when/if hungry): Lentil Soup or Butternut Squash Soup from Zaro’s Bakery.
  • Dinner (9ish)
    Option 1: Salmon with steamed spinach (Whole Foods Frozen). Olive oil and salt.
    Option 2: Gristedes Tunafish salad with steamed spinach and/or mixed vegetables (Whole Foods Frozen).
    Mix-in: Sometimes 1/2 can of black beans or lentils.

Weekday Cheat Meals

  1. On weeks 2 and 3: Hill Country BBQ — no bread, but tons of BBQ sauce on lean brisket.
  2. On week 4: Skipped dinner, ate 6 or 7 chocolate chip cookies instead with 2 glasses of wine at Book Club

Saturday
Anything and everything.

Results

(measurements taken after morning ritual, including breakfast and morning poo)

  • Start: 188.0 lbs
  • End: 179.0 lbs
  • Today: 180.0, after a week and change on my normal diet

I noticed a reduction in fat around my body, particularly in my neck and waist, and I was back to my normal, healthy body composition. So, yay.

Narrative

The first week is certainly the hardest. In removing carbohydrates, the cravings for bread and rice intensified throughout the week. On my first saturday, I ate four bagels (2 whole wheat, 2 pumpernickel) by myself. Before lunch. The first bagel contained tuna salad. (Did I mention I love tunafish?)

I noticed, however, that I my sweet tooth had lost its edge. During my cheat day, I didn’t have much desire to shovel candy into my welcoming stomach. Other Slow Carbers have noted a change in palette and apparently there’s a scientific explanation for this.

Getting back on the horse on Sunday was easier than I thought it would be, with the second week being much easier than the first. I was still looking forward to my cheat day, but less so than the first week.

That Saturday, I ate two-thirds of a chicken tikka masala pizza from Slice… by myself. Later that night, I had 4 Crumbs Cupcakes in a row followed by a chocolate bar. And then dinner.

The next two weeks were a breeze; a joy, actually: I looked forward to my six days of decisionless dieting and less-so to my cheat day.

On day 31, I weighed myself: 179lbs.

All-in-all, the diet was easy and helped undo the month of Prednisone that added a quick 20lbs to my frame in December. (I would have started earlier, but I was out of the country until mid February and wanted to test this when I had a bit more control on my schedule.)

I don’t think, however, it’s sustainable. One of the reasons I stopped was that, in week five (days 28-31) the carb craving was twice what is was compared to the first week and I couldn’t keep myself from having bread. So, I slowly transitioned back to my old ways which have done well with keeping my physique at a constant.

What’s next?

New York City’s newest transient resident, Andrew Hyde (featured in The Four Hour Body), turned me on to Intermittent Fasting and the Paleolithic Diet. I’ll probably start one of these May 1. In the meantime, I’ve procured enough for a PAGG stack for a month.

Stay tuned.