Can you lose weight by doing a smoothie cleanse?

Smoothie cleanses have become a popular way for people to try to lose weight quickly. The idea is to drink smoothies made from fruits, vegetables, and other natural ingredients for a set period of time, while eliminating other foods from your diet. But do smoothie cleanses actually help you lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way? Let’s take a closer look.

How do smoothie cleanses work?

There are many different smoothie cleanse programs available, but they typically follow a similar structure:

  • You drink smoothies made from fruits, vegetables, nut milks, seeds, nut butters, protein powders, and other natural ingredients.
  • You drink anywhere from 3-6 smoothies per day as meal replacements.
  • The smoothie cleanse lasts for 3-7 days.
  • You eliminate all other foods, drinks, and snacking during the cleanse period.

The goal is to give your digestive system a “break” while flooding it with natural nutrients from fruits and veggies. Removing all other foods forces your body to run on the nutrients from the smoothies alone.

Do you lose weight on a smoothie cleanse?

Most people do lose some weight while following a smoothie cleanse, for a few reasons:

  • Low calorie intake: Smoothies provide around 200-500 calories per serving. Drinking only smoothies means you’ll consume very few calories per day, usually around 1000-1500 calories. This extreme calorie deficit will lead to weight loss.
  • Low fiber: Fruits and vegetables have fiber, but blending them into smoothies reduces the fiber content. This can result in short-term weight loss since fiber helps you feel fuller.
  • Loss of water weight: When you stop eating solid foods, your glycogen stores (energy stored in water that binds to carbohydrates) deplete. This causes fast water weight loss.

However, most of the weight lost on a smoothie cleanse is likely to be water weight and lean muscle mass rather than fat. Extreme calorie restriction can cause the body to burn protein for fuel, breaking down muscle tissue. Losing actual fat requires a sustainable calorie deficit combined with exercise.

Pros of doing a smoothie cleanse

There are some potential benefits associated with doing a short-term smoothie cleanse:

  • Increased fruit/veggie intake: Blending produce into smoothies can help increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables.
  • Elimination of processed foods: Following a smoothie cleanse requires you to cut out processed junk foods, fast foods, sugary snacks, and other unhealthy items.
  • Reduced inflammation: The natural anti-inflammatory compounds in fruits, veggies, and leafy greens may help reduce inflammation in the body.
  • Boosted energy: Some people report feeling more energetic when following a low-calorie, all-produce smoothie cleanse.

Additionally, the initial quick weight loss you see on the scale can provide motivation to keep losing weight through sustainable diet and lifestyle changes.

Cons of doing a smoothie cleanse

However, there are also many potential downsides to doing a smoothie cleanse:

  • Extremely low calories: Consuming so few calories can slow your metabolism as your body enters “starvation” mode.
  • Loss of muscle mass: With inadequate protein and calories, your body breaks down lean muscle for fuel.
  • Nutrient deficiencies: Produce-only smoothies lack adequate fat, protein, iron, vitamin B12, and other nutrients.
  • Blood sugar spikes: The high glycemic loads in fruit-based smoothies can cause blood sugar spikes and crashes.
  • Cravings and overeating: You may overeat when the cleanse ends, quickly gaining back weight.
  • Lack of sustainability: Cleanses don’t teach healthy eating habits you can maintain long-term.

The initial drop on the scale also does not take into account the potential for gaining back weight quickly after the cleanse.

Health risks of smoothie cleanses

Here are some health risks associated with doing a smoothie cleanse:

  • Nutrient deficiencies – Going for long periods without adequate calories, protein, fiber or essential fats can lead to nutrient deficiencies and health issues.
  • Blood sugar spikes – The sugary fruits in smoothies cause rapid blood sugar spikes and crashes that can mimic the effects of diabetes.
  • Electrolyte imbalances – Not eating anything solid can disturb electrolyte levels in your body, leading to fatigue, headaches, and cramps.
  • Gallbladder problems – Rapid weight loss and lack of fiber can strain your gallbladder and potentially cause gallstones.
  • Metabolic slowdown – Severely restricting calories slows your metabolism, making it easier to regain weight later on.
  • Binge eating – Cleanses promote a “deprivation” mentality that often leads to overeating or binging when they end.

The safety of doing a smoothie cleanse also depends on your current state of health. Those with diabetes, pregnancy, eating disorders, gastrointestinal issues and other conditions may experience adverse effects.

Smoothie cleanse guidelines

If you do attempt a smoothie cleanse, keep these tips in mind to stay as healthy as possible:

  • Include protein like nut butters, protein powder or Greek yogurt
  • Add healthy fats from nuts, seeds or avocados
  • Watch your fruit intake due to the sugar content
  • Fill smoothies with leafy greens for nutrients
  • Only follow a cleanse for 3-5 days maximum
  • Avoid cleanses if you have underlying health issues
  • Don’t do cleanses too frequently, even if they are short

Following a smoothie cleanse longer than 5 days may require supervision by a doctor to monitor for health complications.

Smoothie cleanse recipes

Here are some healthy, balanced smoothie recipes you can include as part of a brief cleanse:

Green Detox Smoothie

  • 1 cup kale or spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup pineapple
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Berry Avocado Smoothie

  • 1 cup mixed berries
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2 handfuls spinach
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1 cup coconut water

Aim for a mix of fruits, veggies, proteins, healthy fats and fiber in your smoothies. You can also rotate different smoothie recipes to get a variety of nutrients.

Smoothie cleanse vs. juicing

Both smoothie cleanses and juice cleanses involve consuming fruit- and vegetable-based drinks for a set period while eliminating other foods. What’s the difference between smoothies and juices?

Smoothies Juices
Contain whole fruits and vegetables, just blended Contain extracted juices with pulp removed
Include fiber from produce Fiber is stripped out during juicing
Thick, smooth texture Thin, watery texture
Can be mixed with nuts, seeds, nut butters Do not contain fats or protein
Slower digestion Rapid absorption and blood sugar spike

For these reasons, smoothie cleanses are often considered safer and more nutritious than juice cleanses.

Should you do a smoothie cleanse?

So should you try out a smoothie cleanse diet? Here are some things to consider:

  • Smoothie cleanses can help increase fruit/veggie intake and reduce unhealthy foods in the short term.
  • However, they are extremely low in calories and nutrients to be safe or sustainable.
  • You will likely gain back any weight lost shortly after the cleanse ends.
  • Smoothie cleanses do not lead to lasting improved eating habits.

Overall, smoothie cleanses are not a healthy or advisable approach to weight loss. You would be better off focusing on implementing sustainable diet and lifestyle changes that lead to gradual, maintainable weight loss over time.

Healthy, sustainable weight loss tips

Here are some healthy tips for safe, sustainable weight loss and improved nutrition:

  • Aim for a modest calorie deficit of around 500 calories/day from your maintenance needs for 1-2 lbs per week weight loss.
  • Eat plenty of satiating proteins like lean meat, eggs, fish and plant-based proteins.
  • Fill up on fiber from vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
  • Include healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds and omega-3s.
  • Drink plenty of water and limit sugary drinks like juice.
  • Reduce processed foods, added sugar, refined grains and unhealthy fats.
  • Exercise regularly by doing both cardio and strength training.
  • Get enough sleep and manage stress levels.
  • Be consistent and patient with healthy eating and lifestyle changes.

By following these tips, you can lose weight sustainably without needing to resort to extreme cleanses or crash diets.


Smoothie cleanses may lead to quick but unsustainable short-term weight loss. However, they come with many health risks and side effects. You will likely regain any weight lost shortly after the cleanse.

Smoothie cleanses are not a magical weight loss solution. Focus instead on implementing gradual healthy eating and lifestyle changes you can follow for life. Be patient and consistent in creating a modest daily calorie deficit combined with increased physical activity.

This sustainable, balanced approach will help you lose fat while maintaining muscle mass and supporting lasting weight loss success.

Leave a Comment