There's a new juice cleanse at Penn sold by Kitchen Gia. Given all the hype about juice cleanses, I tried it out while I had 1) a severe cold, 2) tons of midterms and 3) emotional distress on numerous levels. The cleanse: 7 drinks per day at specified times. Keep reading for the ~juicy~ details. I listed every recipe for you to make at home, too!
I was sick when I started this cleanse. I was borderline dysfunctional and basically that gross person you don't want to sit next to in class. During the juice cleanse, I recovered at record speeds. It's not scientifically measurable, but usually when I get that sick, it takes me a week PLUS to recover. On this cleanse, I felt measurably better each day, almost normal after 4 days, and fully healthy after 5-6 days. Compared to my usual 8-9 days, that's up to a 45% speedier recovery!
I don't like sourcing my energy from blood sugar spikes. I reduced the higher-sugar fruit content in some of the juices (like this article recommends) to counter that. I certainly prefer finding sustained energy from a diet of lean protein and vegetables than a juice cleanse.
By the end of it, I was craving protein bars. I knocked out my habit/affinity for processed carbs during these 3 days, though. I think a 1 or 2-day juice cleanse would have been enough to reap the benefits without getting too extreme.
8:00AM – G.A.L.K. Shot
Ingredients: 1 ounce ginger, apple, lemon, kale
Calorie estimate: 60
Review: Sweeter than I expected! Gabby told me not to take it all in one shot, which was wise. The shot was not rough or overpowering and I really enjoyed the flavor.
I wasn’t feeling great on Day 2 due to cold medicine, and this ginger shot actually settled my stomach and improved my energy.
8:30AM – The Penn Purifier
Pitch*: "Beet juice increases blood flow and your body's ability to efficiently use more oxygen, leading to natural, sustained energy. Also helps reduce blood pressure and detoxify the liver, leading to increased burning of body fat."
Ingredients: 8 kale leaves, 1 beet, ¼ lemon, 1 apple, 2 celery stalks, 1/3 cucumber
Calorie estimate: 180
Review: Smooth and substantive, but a little too sweet for my taste preferences… The sweetness also makes it feel less healthy. When I finished it, I immediately started feeling more energetic.
On Day 2, I requested ½ an apple instead of a full one and that made a big difference. It was still a little sweet for me, but much better balanced.
10:30AM – Go Green
Pitch*: "Rich in vital vitamins and minerals, this nutrient dense drink will help your body perform and function at its peak. Benefits include reduced cholesterol, stronger bones, and cardiovascular health."
Ingredients: 10 kale leaves, 3 broccoli florets, ½ lime, 2 celery stalks, 2/3 cucumber, 1 apple
Calorie estimate: 190
Review: First sips are fairly smooth with a sweet aftertaste (from the apple, again.) Overall, it tasted healthy – not a treat, but something that was going to make me feel good in the long-run.
12:30PM – Sunny Day
Pitch*: "Rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, and antioxidants, this drink reduces cholesterol, boosts your immune system, and increases cardiovascular health."
Ingredients: 2 carrots, 1/8 pineapple, 1 lemon, 3 cantaloupe blocks, 2 oranges
Calorie estimate: 340
Review: If you like orange juice, you’ll love this. This juice is a burst of flavor and energy; it was exactly what I needed for a midday pick-me-up.
For Day 2 and 3, I had the pineapple taken out, which made it less sweet and more appealing for my preferences.
3:00PM – Watermelon Cucumber Limeade
Pitch*: "Watermelon is high in the amino acid citrulline, which has shown to interfere with the accumulation of fat in cells. This combination of antioxidants helps fight inflammation, maintain health, weight, and support digestive health."
Ingredients: 4 watermelon blocks, 1 lime, 1 cucumber, 5 mint leaves
Calorie estimate: 160-180
Review: This juice was super refreshing. It also smells amazing, because of the mint. I want to make it at home! By Day 3 of the cleanse, you'll savor eating the mint leaves, which is weird. I didn't expect to miss eating solid food so much...
6:30PM – Daily Detox
Pitch*: "Parsley lowers blood pressure and eliminates sodium from the diet, helping shed bloating water weight. Also helps purify the blood, improving cardiovascular health, aid digestion, and healthy kidneys."
Ingredients: 1 parsley bunch, 1 lemon, 2 celery stalks, 1 cucumber
Calorie estimate: 100
Review: The least tasty, yet healthiest feeling, juice of the cleanse. This one was harder to get down, but by this time of the day, you're hungry enough that you're motivated to power through. Drinking it felt like I was doing something good for myself.
30-60 Minutes Before Bed – Protein Boost
Pitch*: "The healthy fats and proteins in this drink will fill you up and help you fall into a deep, restorative sleep. It is during deep sleep that fat is burned, muscle is built, and your body heals."
Ingredients: Almond milk, pea protein, peanut powder, cacao, banana, coconut oil
Calorie estimate: 450-500
Review: Delicious and peanutty. Thick and satisfying after a day relatively low in protein and fat. This shake really hit the spot. It also sent me sailing to sleep.
Breakdown of Daily Experience
AM – The shot made me feel great but also stimulated my appetite. I’m starting to wonder if a liquid diet will make me feel full…
PM – Hungry! But the final drinks hit the spot. I don't miss solid food and drinking juice makes it so easy to take in a ton of vitamins.
AM – Woke up refreshed and looking forward to more juices today. No measurable differences in my body (obviously) but I feel good, light and energetic.
PM – Felt unwell in the afternoon (probably from my cold rather than anything I was consuming.) Felt better after I caffeinated. The benefit of pre-made juices? No time spent on dinner prep!
AM – My stomach is less bloated today after a few days sans solid food. Measurably less sick feeling at personal record speeds.
PM – These juices have been delicious but I still felt hungry! I started craving for protein bars. However, I've been rebounding from my cold at faster than ever, so it all feels worth it.
AM – Woke up and felt *significantly* less sick. I've been getting a little better each day. Was it the juice cleanse? I'll never know, but I have never recovered from being so terribly ill so quickly before. Eat (or drink!) your veggies, kids.
Overall, it was a positive experience. I experienced an improved mood and felt physically invigorated. I can't speak to many of the promised health benefits, but I certainly reaped the rewards pertaining to immune system boosts. If you're interested, make them at home, read up on the best brands, or check out the selection at Kitchen Gia!
*NOTE: I have listed the drinks' intended benefits as labeled. However, I do not endorse these statements, given my lack of qualifications in the nutrition and science-y spaces. If you would like to discuss or challenge these claims, please write to me! I'd love to talk to you.