A little over a year ago, I went on my second raw juice cleanse as a gift to my internal organs and because I thought it would help me lean out to get a running start at my trim spring/summer look.

Second day into it, I noticed I was getting headaches and nausea, and also feeling really weak in the gym.

This is healthy?

(sounds counterproductive so far)

My cleanse wasn’t as strict as most are, and I ate small portions of clean, solid food throughout the day because I wanted to workout while on it.

Note: If you do a juicing cleanse with no food, I strongly recommend that you don’t work out at all.

I was also drinking about 12 oz. of coffee per day, so I figured the headaches weren’t from caffeine withdrawal.

Many of us have heard that if we feel unpleasant during a cleanse, it’s because of the toxins being released.

Something about that answer was unsatisfying to me, so I did more research and discovered juice cleanses are not for everyone, and they can even hurt us if we don’t execute them correctly.

One of my go-to sources for nutritional info is Precision Nutrition; I have been following them for years now and trust their research, articles, etc. One article they posted “Detox diets & juice cleanses: Could they make you more toxic?” inspired this article.

In fact, the man who wrote the article and his wife both had to go to the hospital because of a three-day cleanse.

Here are some relevant portions of their post that pertain to my issues listed above:

  • Detoxing to lose body fat is a poor proposition.
  • Any weight loss from a detox diet is probably water, carbohydrate stores, and intestinal bulk – all of which come back in a few hours after the detox ends.
  • There is an important connection between body fat and toxins, because fat cells don’t merely contain fat. They’re also a storage site for certain fat-soluble toxins we ingest. So the leaner you are, the less real estate you have available for toxins. This may help explain why many people feel lousy when they’re going through a period of rapid fat loss.
  • Since fat-soluble chemicals can be stored in fat, when fat is broken down, the chemicals can enter the bloodstream, contributing to fatigue, muscle soreness and even nausea.

If detox diets are a dumb way to lose weight, do they have any potential benefits? Yes.

Foods and drinks typically recommended as part of detox diets are often nutrient-rich “superfoods,” such as:

  • Lemons
  • Green tea
  • Omega-3 fats
  • Colorful fruits and vegetables

All of these seem to help the body deal with incoming toxins.

In particular, a plant version of glutathione, an important detoxification agent in the brain, can be found in asparagus, spinach, avocado, and squash.


This brings me to one of my own theories. Many people get headaches when they are on juice cleanses. One reason – the most obvious – is caffeine withdrawal.

But even people who are not addicted to caffeine can be subject to headaches. I think this could be due to nitrates. Why?

Well, many juices incorporate high quantities of celery and beets. Neither of these vegetables is typically eaten in such large quantities; both, meanwhile, are rich in nitrates.

Nitrates promote vasodilation. And dilated blood vessels can lead to some pounding headaches.

Nitrates are not the only problem. Many cleansing plans are built around extracted juices. Juice is a processed food. So while we often frown upon processing, juicing is a type of processing.

The Takeaway Message

As a vegan bodybuilder who trains to gain muscle most of the time, I’m going to leave you with a couple thoughts to seriously consider about a detox juice cleanse:

  • Low Protein: Cleansing diets are super-low in protein, and ironically, protein deficiencies can inhibit the body’s ability to eliminate toxins. This self-defeating feature clearly has to be addressed with protein supplementation.
  • Low Calories: Cleansing diets are so low in calories, they’ll slow your body’s metabolic processes. This self-defeating feature clearly has to be addressed with calorie supplementation.

If you want to cleanse and increase energy, you don’t necessarily have to do a hardcore juicing cleanse with no food. For instance, Ms. Bikini Universe (vegan bodybuilder) had a positive experience with a less intense vegan detox diet cleanse that included food for 30 days and lost 10 lbs. of fat and later replaced it with 10lbs of muscle.

Chris Willitts (creator of V3), is the founder and owner of Vegetarian Bodybuilding.

V3 Vegetarian Bodybuilding System is a mixture of science and author’s advice, providing users with optimal diet and exercise. This system is designed for vegans and vegetarians only.

A lot of research has been put in this program. Furthermore, a lot of professional bodybuilders and athletes tried and tested the program, praising its progressiveness and efficiency.

The program is about taking control of your own body and health according to your potential and needs. And worry not; you’ll get plenty of proteins with this system. It will boost you with energy, and you’ll feel just a strong as any carnivore would (perhaps even stronger, depending on how much you invest in your exercise). It avoids vitamins deficiency and provides you with a lot of proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

Instead of saying things like “I think a plant-based diet is good for athletes and bodybuilders,” the V3 Vegetarian Bodybuilding System claims “I know a plant-based diet is good for athletes and bodybuilders, and I have results to prove it.”

To find out more, visit the website at V3 Bodybuilding –  Cleanse and Increase Energy

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