We know the perception of the Esquire staff is steak-gobbling he-men, but if you look in our fridge, you will see bottles and growlers of low-calorie, vitamin-rich juice. It's true: Esquire cleanses. Openly.
LizzyJaysJuice founder Casey Sabol claims juicing's ease of digestion allows maximum vitamin intake because "the longer it takes to assimilate food you eat, the fewer nutrients your body absorbs," and there's a lot of talk about the importance of giving your digestive system a rest. But the real reason to consume half of your typical caloric intake in liquid vegetable form is to shrink your gut and give your body a respite from its usual bacchanal of caffeine, alcohol, and processed food. While I am not, in fact, a man, I lost 5 percent of my body weight in five days trying out five of the leading juice cleanses, and can recommend the process to men, with some reservations. Here was my experience:
BluePrint, $65 a day
Tone of Literature: Judgmental. Because I chose the "easiest" cleanse (a gluttonous 1070 calories), BluePrint correctly divined my inner monologue: "I know what whole foods are, and I've seen people buying them. I would too, but I'm too busy to be choosy - my vegetable intake comes in the form of: Ketchup - 'tomatoes' and French Fries - 'potatoes.'"
The Cleanse: "Renovation" is an organic six-juice-a-day program that includes two of the sweet and muddy Green Juice (kale, apple, romaine, celery, cucumber, spinach); the PAM (pineapple, apple, mint) and CAB (carrot, apple, beet), both treacly sweet; Spicy Lemonade, BluePrint's superior take on the Master Cleanse; and the merciful, milkshake-like Cashew Milk, which is the last juice of the day and gives me a whisper of satiety before bed. Fun fact: You are supposed to chew the juice to trick your body into thinking you're actually eating so it produces digestion-aiding saliva.
Mood: Horrible. Terrified that I'll go to bed hungry, I try to space out the juices in the first half of the day so that that I can drink more in the evening. Terrible idea. I get a thunderous headache that lasts from 4:30 to 10 p.m., when I finally pass out from pain.
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Juice Press, $60 a day
Tone of Literature: Dr. Bronner'sian. The bottle labels, whose diction and punctuation recall the starvation-stymied emails I've sent today or something a junkie might write on a Port Authority bathroom wall, include bromides like, "You don't have to eat dirt to feel close to the earth! Just drink our juice & eat our raw foods!"
The Cleanse: The organic six-juice cleanse makes BluePrint taste like candy. It consists of Complete Source (carrot, celery, parsley, and spinach); the optimistically named The Meal (spinach, carrot, cucumber, celery, apple, carrot, and spirulina); shockingly sweet and orange Sweet Potato Pie (carrot, sweet potato, apple); the (really, really) Spicy Citrus (grapefruit, orange, lemon, ginger, cayenne); actually delicious Tomato Gazpacho; and the very light Gravity (cucumber, celery, aloe, lemon, kale, and live cultures).
Mood: Upbeat. I wake up with my headache gone and go through the Juice Press cleanse with less skepticism than BluePrint, since I'm not drinking glorified apple juice all day. I also learn from my pacing mistakes, sipping each juice so that they last an hour and picking up the next twenty minutes later (though I'm not sure men would be able to keep themselves from chugging whenever they feel hungry). I can feel my blood sugar crashing between juices, reaching the nadir between Spicy Citrus and the euphoric mania of the Tomato Gazpacho, which I do in fact chug, ruining my sexist generalizations.
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LizzyJays, $70 a day, minimum three days
Tone of Literature: Upbeat. Instead of chiding me for my non-cleanse diet or encouraging me to let my saliva alkalize the juice, LizzyJays appeals to my vanity: "Everyone should age beautifully with glowing skin, a lean body, and calm inner balance."
The Cleanse: Another six-juice regimen. LizzyJays' cleanse was obviously inspired by predecessor BluePrint, and improves upon their Green Juice with Crisp Greens (kale, spinach, romaine, celery, cucumber, ginger, apple, pineapple), which I get two of. The Smooth Cashew also surpasses BluePrint's fairly chunky Cashew Milk. However, the two Veggie Mixes (kale, spinach, romaine, celery, beet, carrot, apple, pineapple, ginger) are sweet and earthy to the point of being hard to get down, and the Spicy Lemonade has a somewhat unpleasant smoky aftertaste, more like chipotle than the cayenne it purports to contain.
Mood: Fuzzy-headed. I try to walk down an up escalator. The lack of texture is making me irritable, especially when I realize I have to drink two beet juices. My boyfriend, wary of my starvation wrath, encourages me to have a bite of his pad thai, and I succumb, immediately overwhelmed by guilt and self-loathing. It was worth it.
Cooler Cleanse, $58 a day
Tone of Literature: Sensual. This cleanse apparently "ease[s] the digestive process by replacing regular meals with delicious, cold-pressed vegetable and fruit juices, raw coconut water elixirs and silky smooth nut milk blends."
The Cleanse: This is the tastiest of the five cleanses. The juices included are Sweet (kale, watermelon, apple, and lemon); Citrus (pineapple, orange, lime); Green (cucumber, celery, parsley, spinach, kale, pear, lemon, ginger); Spicy (lemon, lime, cayenne, agave); Veggie (carrot, apple, beet, lemon, spinach); and Hemp (hemp seeds, vanilla bean, dates). And, aside from the beet juice, which has done unspeakable things to my bowel movements, I would drink any of them recreationally.
Mood: Superior to people who need food to survive. I've gotten over the pad thai incident, and am back on track, feeling like I could pretty much do this forever, as long as my job and friends didn't mind my lack of cogency and my new habit of staring at people as they eat like a TSA agent trying to discern whether a flyer's breast implants are stuffed with heroin. That being said, I could go for something salty. Cheetos. Poutine. I lick the back of my hand and wonder if that's cheating.
iZO, $150 a day
Tone of Literature: Upfront. iZO warns that "at points you might feel sluggishness, mild headaches, patches of nausea, and a general lack of clarity," and kindly offers that if your body tells you, "'This is way too intense. STOP THE CLEANSE NOW!' then it's no problem to stop it now and pick up at a later date."
The Cleanse: iZO is not fking around. There are, in all, twenty-four organic juices, teas, liver cleanse pills, and laxatives (six of each) a day in the Signature Cleanse (by far the most expensive I tried), and unlike the for-sissies pineapple and apple juices of the other cleanses, these are straight murk. They look and taste like mid-summer pond water. However! The sheer quantity of juices and teas and pills ensures that I'm never without something to put in my mouth, and the lack of deliciousness convinces me the cleanse is truly beneficial, instead of a sugary cut-calorie placeholder for solids. The fact that I'm assuming that it must be healthy because it tastes bad probably says more about my juice-addled state of mind than the actual cleanse, but when founder Timothy Martin told me his cleanse would cleanse the other cleanses I had this week, it made a kind of calorically-deprived sense.
Mood: Cleansed. I think iZO tastes more horrible than it usually would because of all the sugar I've had this week, but I feel like I'm accomplishing something when I get it all down. This cleanse's saving grace might be its price, since as much as I don't see a man drinking this, I really don't see a man dropping $150 and not drinking this. But I decide to end this whole project early and have spaghetti and meatballs and beer for my first post-cleanse meal.
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Final verdict: The pleasure of chewing and crunching and drinking alcohol and choosing what you're going to consume is greater than the pleasure of protruding hipbones. That said, if you need to lose a few pounds quickly and have ever thought, Carrie Mathison's mood swings weren't that erratic when she went off her lithium, you could do worse than the Juice Press cleanse, which has an alternate menu with different flavors and slightly more calories. Just drink it slowly.MORE FROM ESQUIRE
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