What’s it like doing a detox?
We trialled four detox kits and one juice cleanse. Not all our detox guinea pigs would do it again! Here, three of them share their diaries.
Abby – Health House The Ultimate Cleanse Spring Clean and Detox
Price: $99 for 10 days.
What is it?
The detox involves taking 40 capsules a day (four different products): 20 with breakfast and 20 with dinner. There’s a preparation phase (three to seven days) to reduce caffeine, alcohol, and foods like bread, red meat and pork, pasta, nuts and beans. During the detox, there’s a list of foods you can eat freely and foods to avoid (including potatoes, sweetcorn, dairy products).
Day 1: I still had my usual two coffees, a laksa with udon noodles and tea. After work, I swapped my usual bread fix for a mandarin. Dinner was salad greens from my garden, tahini dressing and chicken. I probably didn’t eat enough protein today and was craving nuts and carbs. Not boding well for the detox!
Day 2: I had one coffee and swapped my other regular one for tea. Breakfast was a smoothie with banana, coriander, spinach and coconut-oat milk. Lunch was dinner leftovers. Dinner was chicken soup. Felt a little lack-lustre today so cheated with some sweets.
Day 3: Breakfast was a smoothie. Lunch was clear chicken soup. Not so great on the other things I was meant to cut back – a coffee, beer, glass of chardonnay and glass of red wine. Dinner was a cheese wrap. Low in energy but hardly surprising!
Day 4: I had friends over for the weekend, so did my best on the food front – eggs on homemade walnut bread, Korean fish soup, and Japanese for dinner (mainly raw fish and veges). I avoided coffee but had a whiskey. Felt tired in the afternoon, which I put down to my first caffeine-free day. Had a sauna and cold plunge to blow out the cobwebs.
Day 1: First day of my detox and taking 40 capsules a day. My day started with celery juice and kefir, instead of my usual caffeine fix. It was Mother’s Day, so breakfast out, but avoided the bread. Bowel motion was solid and darker than usual – so far so good!
Day 2: A bubbly bowel motion – nothing further to say on that topic. I also had more gas than usual and low energy levels. A smoothie for breakfast, and chicken and vegies for lunch. Snacks were kale and butternut chips, but these didn’t cut it for me: I was craving carbs and fat – specifically cheese and bread. I caved and had a glass of red wine and vegetarian pasta for dinner.
Day 3: Managed to stay on the ‘allowed’ food list today. My snack for the train was an apple and heck it was good. I don’t know if it was a genuinely good one or if my tastebuds are changing. I felt fuller today but I’m still craving something – anything other than fruit or vegetables.
Day 4: Insanely hungry when I woke up. Bowel motions resembled those of a rabbit and the frequency has ramped up. At work my head felt clearer than usual – might be due to no caffeine. I didn’t have any food fails today and my glass of oat milk was oh so satisfying.
Day 5: Berry smoothie for breakfast with protein powder, spinach, maca root and a raw egg (don’t tell the food safety police)! I got to work and urgently needed a bathroom stop. It’s uncomfortable knowing everything is literally sliding out of me …
Day 6: Friday, cheat day! I had a red wine at work drinks and red meat out for dinner.
Day 7: Back on the bandwagon with fresh juice, eggs, spinach, tofu and chicken curry. I was tired this morning – perhaps down to yesterday’s red wine and red meat.
Days 8 and 9: Mainly ate leftovers of allowed foods. Didn’t feel much different to how I usually feel.
Day 10: Last day and I cheated with a coffee.
It was a hassle taking 40 pills a day and having restricted food options, especially if I was running late. At the start of my detox, I had low energy levels and was hungry. I would have loved some carbs to dull the hunger pangs. My bowel movements were also unusual, but I had no headaches, stomach upsets or disrupted sleep. From day three, I had a clearer head and was less anxious than I usually am.
At the end of the detox, I didn’t feel better or worse. But it made me aware of what I usually eat and the improvements I could make to my diet – eating less sweets and processed foods.
Would I do it again? I enjoyed the re-set of my diet. But I’m not sure the supplements were beneficial, so I’d probably just eat more healthily.
Emily – Caruso’s Quick Cleanse Internal Cleansing Detox Program
Price: $60 for seven days.
What is it?
The detox involves taking seven supplements a day (four different products) at specific times (pre and post meals). The plan includes a list of allowed and restricted foods, and recommends drinking a glass of warm water and lemon juice in the morning followed (20 minutes later) by 200ml of fruit or vegetable juice.
The day before I’m due to start, I realise I need to do some food prep for the week ahead. I don’t have the ingredients for the vege juice but bake the breakfast cookies from the recipe booklet supplied. I also pull out the sprouting jars to soak sprouts overnight. Not sure why I’ve bothered as they aren’t likely to sprout for a few days. Am I setting myself up for failure?
At 10pm, it dawns on me I won’t be eating chocolate for a week. I make myself a cocoa and eat eight squares of Whitaker’s plus a Tim-Tam. It feels necessary. I cross my fingers that I don’t get a chocolate headache. The detox instructions don’t allow symptom control for headaches, so painkillers are off the list.
Day 1: First up is warm water with lemon juice, taken with a ‘Bowel Clear’ tablet. Instead of vege juice I have a pear, some carrots and half a litre of water. I hate vege juice anyway and wonder if I can substitute vegetable soup?
Turns out I can’t be bothered making vege soup, so I buy a mixed fruit and vegetable juice. A good compromise, as I’m supposed to have fruit or vegetable juice on alternate days.
Dinner is vegetarian enchiladas. Sour cream, cheese and tortillas are off the menu, so I cook rice to go with my chilli. I haven’t felt hungry today but have felt nauseous. Not sure if it’s the six tablets I’ve taken (one to go) or my chocolate overdose from yesterday.
Day 2: The usual start of warm water and lemon, followed by the bought fruit and vegetable juice and breakfast cookies. The cookies aren’t great but are filling.
Salad for lunch, and by 3pm I’m hungry. My daughter makes cookies and the ‘CraveLess’ tablets definitely don’t work. I settle for a persimmon, green tea and nuts. Dinner seems a long way away.
My bowel and bladder are working full tilt today. Two to three litres is a lot of water to drink in winter. My nausea has settled.
Day 3: Enjoyed my fruit and vege juice for breakfast. It feels like a treat.
The detox makes eating out challenging. We go out for brunch – a vegetable sandwich in rye bread, but carrot cake also makes its way onto my plate. In my defence, it’s my son’s birthday and Mother’s Day, and there is a lot of carrot in the cake.
Remembering to take the tablets is also a pain and I’m not convinced they’re helping.
Day 4: The detox feels well and truly underway, and my bowels are working with maximum efficiency. Tofu stir fry for dinner, which the family grudgingly eats. Have resorted to taking the tablets with meals so I don’t forget.
Day 5: Worked out at the gym today. Not sure if it’s in my head, but I felt weaker than usual.
Our family meals are usually protein-rich and I’m finding the vegan diet difficult – not to mention selling it to my family. I miss eggs and yoghurt – and chocolate, but that goes without saying.
My bowels are still working overtime and I’m producing a lot of clear urine, so my kidneys seem healthy.
Day 6: Getting the hang of the routine and enjoying the warm lemon water and juice to start the day. Still struggling to remember to take the tablets. Thankfully, I finish the breakfast cookie batch today.
Dinner tonight is pasta. The family gets delicious pasta with parmesan, but I’m trying pulse pasta made from lentils, chickpeas and beans. It almost tastes real if you eat it quickly, but the detox rules say chew slowly and don’t get overfull. That’s no challenge with this pasta. My sprouts have finally sprouted, and I feel virtuous sprinkling them on my meal.
Day 7: Last day! Woke at 3am with a migraine. Debated not taking any painkillers (it’s against the rules), but decided the rules are stupid and I didn’t want to ruin my day. Breakfast is porridge made with water because I can’t stomach the milk substitute. Raisins and berries make it edible. Much nicer than the detox cookies!
Day 8: It’s over. But not, as I discover one sneaky pill I forgot to take. I swallow it with a glass of juice.
I’ve lost 1.5kg but expect that’s down to my bowels working overtime and the extra fibre in my diet. I enjoy a coffee in the morning and hot chocolate in the afternoon.
The checklist provided was helpful to remember the strict order for taking the pills. The eating plan was a hassle though – it was essentially vegan (which the rest of the family rebelled against), and I had to do a lot of food prep. The nutrition advice was also weird. I was allowed citrus (but no oranges) and sea salt (but no table salt). The recommendation to drink vegetable or fruit juice daily also goes against standard nutrition advice.
On the detox I felt mainly fine, but was quite gassy and my bowel motions were loose and urgent. I also needed to pee more often. My energy levels and sleep patterns were unaffected.
Would I do it again? No. I wasn’t convinced there was any benefit for the $60 price tag. I also wanted the restricted products (caffeine, cake, alcohol) more than usual because I wasn’t allowed them, despite the CraveLess supplement! I’m a doctor so was concerned that ingredients in the supplements could interact with medications. The instructions did state to consult your doctor before starting if you’re on medication. But if a patient presented me with the long list of ingredients in the supplements, I’d have no idea if they’d react – I suspect I wouldn’t be alone!
James – Artisan Juice Protein Reset Cleanse
Price: $131 for two days.
What is it?
The cleanse includes four plant-based smoothies, three cold-pressed juices and one booster shot per day, consumed in a particular order. Unlimited herbal tea and water are allowed. There’s a recommendation to avoid all solid food, but if you’re hungry, vegetables and limited fruit are allowed. To prepare for the cleanse, it’s recommended you have one or more days with no meat, eggs, dairy, processed foods, refined sugars or caffeine.
I quit caffeine two days out (well nearly, as I had to finish a bottle of Coke first). My preparatory lunch consists of two sausage rolls and a pie from the bakery. I usually drink four to five cups of coffee each day, so have a caffeine withdrawal headache all evening.
The day before I’m due to start, I make a big plunger of coffee on autopilot before I realise I can’t drink it. Sad start to the day. Have three herbal teas instead.
Feeling sluggish already, so the juice cleanse may be hard work. I also have the extra punishment of going vegan today and buy a horrid looking brown rice dish for lunch. Tonight, I have to sit through an ante-natal class without caffeine – joy of joys. I cheat on my vegan pasta dinner by adding cheese.
Day 1: Woke up to a sweet headache. Hopped on the scales at 109.9kg, prepared a herbal tea and necked a Booster shot. It was surprisingly spicy (from the ginger and lemon) so woke me up, but I didn’t enjoy it. That first experience made me approach the Vanilla Nut Mylk with trepidation. But it tasted like Christmas so worry unfounded.
Arrived at work feeling low on energy – probably due to the lack of caffeine. The Super Juice I drank next would make a decent salad dressing – but as a drink, it’s unpleasant. My ill, acidic feelings were washed away by a bottle of Choc Nut Mylk for lunch – yum but a little gritty. I wonder if the grit helps exfoliate my insides?
It’s 2.35pm and my tummy is rumbling. Time for juice number 3 – Power Juice with a beetroot base. It’s fine but wouldn’t choose to drink it. The smoothies are way nicer than the juices.
Luckily, dinner was two smoothies – banana and berry. Both were nice.
The Glow Juice has cayenne pepper in it and is spicy. My tastebuds can’t tolerate spice so if a drink packs heat, it’s not for me. Give me a pina colada over a spicy margarita any day.
Day 2: Weighed in at 108.3kg, so a drop of 1.6kg. If I were trying to fit my wedding dress tomorrow, this would be the way to go. Woke up with a headache – bad enough to take paracetamol, which I never take unless it’s a whopper.
Surprisingly, no diarrhoea – not that I’m complaining. Feeling incredibly low on energy. Played social netball at lunch and ran out of puff during the warm-up. Had a couple of moments when I was lightheaded and had to take it easy. We lost – but not because of me.
So, so hungry by 3pm. Difficult to concentrate at work. Looking forward to this cleanse being over. Only two smoothies and one juice to go. Went to bed early – completely wiped out and nothing in the tank.
The day after: Weighed in at 107.3kg. A whopping 2.6kg lost in two days. I’m sure that’s not healthy and I don’t feel it. Had peanut butter on toast followed by a banana and it tasted incredible. Slowly feeling the energy levels rise again. So long juice cleanse – I will never repeat you.
The cleanse was easy to follow, and the smoothies were delicious, but that’s where the good news ends. My energy levels were massively reduced, I was starving and had headaches both days. On day two, I experienced flu-like symptoms. I was glad it only lasted two days as it wasn’t enough calories for someone my size. The one positive was my realisation of how much coffee I drink: I’ll definitely be cutting back.
Would I do it again? No way – it’s too expensive.
Check out our detox kits and cleanses report to see what the experts think.
Can you clean your body with a detox kit or juice cleanse?
Detox products sound like the perfect quick fix for an unhealthy lifestyle or pick-me-up. But do they work? We asked a medical expert and trialled detox kits and juices to find out.