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So you didn’t listen to our advice on how to avoid holiday weight gain. Honestly, we can’t blame you: Potato latkes and peppermint bark are simply too delicious. But now you’re looking to repent after a season of less-than-virtuous food choices. One popular idea is the cleanse (juice, whole foods or otherwise), which promises #bodygoals. But only after a few less-than-pleasant days. Sound too good to be true? Maybe. We investigate…

pro cleanse goop

pros

You’ll lose weight quickly. It’s mostly water weight, but if your goal is dropping a few quick pounds before a special occasion, it might be something to consider.

You’ll feel like a superhero. After a few days. (We’ll get into the rough start later.) But three to five days of pure fruits and veggies can’t not make you feel like a million bucks. Add that to a massive sense of accomplishment having followed through on a seemingly impossible feat and you’ll be riding high by day five.

You’ll turn over a new leaf. Lots of people use cleanses to kick-start healthy eating. After a couple of days of conscious eating and drinking, you’re much more aware of your body and more likely to make smart choices regularly in the weeks after.

cleanse mindy

cons

You’ll be kind of bitchy. For the first few days at least. Until your body adjusts, chances are you’ll go through coffee and/or sugar and/or salt withdrawal. Might be best to warn your family, friends and coworkers ahead of time so as not to terrify them when you explode over no one replacing the empty roll of paper towels in the kitchen.

You’ll lose a bunch of money. Cleanses are pretty expensive. Even if you’re making your own juices, you’ll have to buy endless amounts of produce and a high-powered blender (like a Vitamix or a NutriBullet). And if not: A packaged juice cleanse from a company like Blueprint will set you back $195 for three days, and clean-eating meal deliveries (like this holiday special from Sakara Life) cost upwards of $335 for four days.

You’ll probably gain back some of the weight you lost. Sure, you’ll look thinner for a few days, but most of the weight you lose is fluids. Once you start reintroducing salts and carbohydrates into your meals, that water is likely to be replenished.

cleanse colbert

our take

We've done our fair share of cleanses, and while the immediate results are satisfying, they're not entirely sustainable. Instead of obsessing over calories or juices or pre-portioned meals, we've found that eating real, non-processed foods in moderation (yes, even leftover gingerbread cookies) is our best bet for bouncing back after a particularly gluttonous few months. But hey, if you want to live on kale, ginger and spirulina for a few days, by all means, you do you. 

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