Energy Balance: Why Juice Cleanses Are Awful For Your Waistline

Energy Balance: Why Juice Cleanses Are Awful For Your Waistline

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There are plenty of horrific diet trends on the market right now to choose from, but perhaps the most offensive is the Juice Cleanse.

I think I feel that way because it takes such advantage of people’s trust in whole, natural, foods. Energy balance on the other hand is one of the OG nutrition strategies. It’s not very trendy or flashy but it IS effective. 

We’re all human and we want that instant-gratification quick fix. A magic pill, a juice cleanse, or a 21 day fix is far more appealing than putting in the sweat equity and planning for healthy, long term changes.

There are two things you need to understand when it comes to weight loss and fat loss. The first is energy balance. The second is how that energy balance plays out under extreme circumstances. Read on and learn why a juice cleanse is the last thing I’d recommend to those of you looking for more muscle definition and less body fat.

What is energy balance?

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Energy balance is a math equation. The relationship between “Energy In” (which comes from the food and drinks we take in) vs “Energy Out” (which is energy being used for our daily activities, including just living and breathing).  

At the end of the day, energy balance is the number one deciding factor in whether you gain weight, lose weight, or stay the same. The 1st Law of Thermodynamics states that energy can be transformed from one form to another, but can be neither created nor destroyed.

In English, please.

Body fat is stored energy. You can not “make” energy. We store energy in our body in multiple ways but it only gets there by actually taking it from somewhere else. That somewhere else is in our food! Those calories listed on our food labels are actually a unit of energy. The more calories we take in, the more energy we have. If we don’t use that energy, we store it.

We transfer “Energy In” (from our food) into 3 different places to be used as "Energy Out".

  1. Work

  2. Heat

  3. Storage

So, what about “Energy Out”? Well, that would be numbers 1 and 2 above. Our bodies use energy everyday to:

  1. Maintain life at rest (basic stuff like blood circulation and breathing)

  2. Allow us to be physically active and move around (working out or walking across a street)

  3. Keep our bodies fueled and supply MORE “Energy In” (Food digestion, absorption, and transport within the body)

Negative Energy Balance


Negative energy balance means you are taking in less energy than you are using up. A negative energy balance leads to weight loss. A severe negative energy balance leads to a lot more than a decrease in weight, it also results in a decreased metabolism, decreased bone mass, decreased thyroid functioning, decreased testosterone levels, decreased physical performance (crappy workouts) and decreased cognitive functioning. Those are an awful lot of downsides to accompany some fast action weight loss. All of those “decreases” you see above mean that all of your non-essential functions are shut off. Your body is in survival mode, and all it wants is to make it through this famine alive.

Positive Energy Balance

I wish I could say that in contrast to negative energy balance positive energy balance is all sunshine and rainbows… but it’s really not. Positive energy balance means you’re taking in more energy than you’re using. There’s an energy surplus, and that comes with it’s own set of problems. Other than just an increase in weight, positive energy balance can cause an increase in plaques in your arteries, increased blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and an increase in risk for illness, particularly certain cancers. So, safe to say, a positive energy balance is no walk in the park.

Big Picture?

If you want to change your body, you want to change your energy balance, not just your weight. You have to do it in a smart and safe way to achieve the end result most of us are looking for.

Juice "Cleanses" will effect your weight... but usually not the way you're hoping. You'll end up losing a few pounds, mostly of muscle mass and water. Your metabolism will tank. All the while you're hangry, headache-y, and exasperated. 

But calories in and calories out doesn’t give you the whole story.

You see, all weight is not fat. Your body is made up of LOTS of different things that determine your weight. You’ve got:

  • Muscle tissue

  • Organs

  • Blood volume

  • Water (SO MUCH WATER)

  • Bones

  • Food making it's way through the digestive tract

  • A mind boggling number of bacteria in and on your body (yeah, think about that. A large part of “your” body weight isn’t even technically “you”.)

All of these things are NOT fat. But they do weigh something.

*Water has 0 calories, which means it has NO effect on energy balance. But it does weigh a lot and impact OUR weight a TON - no pun intended ;o) Because it has no calories, and therefore you don’t have to *actually* change your overall energy balance, hydration status is the quickest and easiest way to affect our weight. Want to lose 5 pounds super FAST? Get really dehydrated. You will look exactly the same and feel awful, but you’ll reach your goal weight on the scale.

Ok, PUH-LEASE don't go getting super dehydrated. 

There are BETTER WAYS! Make sure you tune in next week. I'm going to tell you EXACTLY how many calories you burn during that juice cleanse, EXACTLY how much weight you'd lose, and EXACTLY how much of that weight is fat. All the good info, coming full circle, just tune in next Tuesday! 

Join me for my FREE upcoming webinar on thursday october 26th at 7pm and learn 4 effective strategies you should master now to keep you healthy for the holidays. 

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About Ashley:

Ashley is a Pilates instructor and entrepreneur in NYC who specializes in biomechanics and exercise nutrition for women. She uses the science behind exercise physiology to empower her clients to lead healthy, happy lives. Her passion project is writing “The LEAN Life Newsletter” which goes out every Tuesday and focuses on Lifestyle, Exercise, Active recovery, and Nutrition and serves as the backbone for her L.E.A.N. Life online health and fitness programs. She aims to get this information into the hands of as many women as possible so they can feel stronger and more confident in their bodies. For more information head to or @AshleyBrownPilates on instagram, or click here to get on the L.E.A.N. Life List!