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 Gruen Diet

Filed under: experiments,thoughts Topics: , , , ,

Sick of hearing about fad diets, I read a smattering of books and blogs about health and nutrition and rolled my own.

What I came up with is not strict nor restrictive, but rather a health guideline. I started adhering to these guidelines—because they’re certainly not rules or a plan—at the beginning of the summer and have since lost 4.5 lbs. A simple workout schedule and simple-to-adhere-to life choices accompany a simple diet.

Important to note is that these guidelines are sub-optimal: you’re not going to lose weight or gain strength or be physically healthier than you would following a strict regimen. But, it’s optimal in that it makes eating choices easy and I don’t really have to think about it. I can just do it and see the effects over time.

So, without further ado:

On Timing

  • Eat 3-4 times a day. Every day, spaced out from 2-5 hours at a clip. Always eat breakfast within 30 minutes of getting up, even if it’s small.
  • No eating 5 hours before bedtime. Don’t give yourself an energy spike before you try to go to sleep.
  • Drink plenty of water before you eat and after you eat. Unless you have a long drive ahead of you, drinks lots of water. You’ll feel fuller for longer.

On Consumption

  • No High-Fructose Corn Syrup [HFCS]. None. It’s in almost every processed food, so read the ingredients.
  • No high incident of artificial crap. If you don’t know what half the ingredients are (and can’t readily pronounce them) don’t eat it. I can almost guarantee HFCS will be in there anyway.
  • Eat meat no more than twice a day. Red meat only once, if not less. Make sure it’s from animals that were fed on natural diets and get to roam around on a field and would have been, in anthropomorphic terms, happy. If you don’t know, don’t eat it.
  • Follow the same guidelines with animal products. Like milk and cheese and eggs. No more than twice a day. Look for 100% organic stuff from happy animals.
  • Go vegetarian for two meals a day. Eat as many vegetables as you want. Don’t hold back. If you’re a man, go easy on the soy. Stay organic whenever possible, even if it costs a touch more.
  • Whole-wheat whenever possible. This includes pastas.
  • Limit alcohol intake. I shoot for two drinks or fewer when I do.
  • Limit soft drinks. Make sure they’re made from Sugar Cane. Stay off anything labeled diet. The sugar calories won’t kill you, the artificial sweeteners might.
  • Limit caffeine. I don’t drink any, save for the occasional green tea or PowerGel.
  • Never deprive oneself of chocolate or candy. Unless it violates a previous guideline. (Read the ingredients! If you don’t know, don’t eat it!)

On Activity

  • Be active 3-4 times a week, for 30-45 minutes at a time. Actually sweat something.
  • Kick your ass once a week. Do some intervals or wind sprints. It doesn’t take much.
  • Don’t stare at sun-mimicking lights late at night. This includes the TV and your computer. Need to use your computer late at night? Use f.lux.

On Sleep

  • Get up at the same time every day. Weekends and weekdays. Nap later if you have to compensate for a late night out. Your body will go to sleep at night when it knows it has to get up at a precise time.
  • Shoot for holes in your REM sleep schedule. For me, that’s at 4.5 hours, 6 hours, 7.5 hours, and 9 hours. I aim for 7.5 hours every night.

That’s about it.

For me, these guidelines are really easy to follow and don’t require any calorie counting or spreadsheets or any planning whatsoever. I don’t worry that I’m eating too much or too little or what I’m eating—by setting a healthy bar, my body will tell me when I’m being disobedient and point me in the right direction.

Lastly, feel free to break the guidelines at Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, and Funerals. If you’re good to yourself most of the time, your body will be able to handle junk every once in a while.

I should also note I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or anyone with any state- or federally-sanctioned right to offer this sort of guidance. Your milage may vary.