Cleanses: A Beginners Guide

February 10, 2016
What you want to know if you are thinking about starting a cleanse.


“Oh, no thanks, I’m on a cleanse” I said as I passed on a slice or 4 of pizza and birthday cake the very first day of the first time in my life I would declare to be “on a cleanse”.  This was the summer of 2012, I had decided to pay for and commit to the Advocare 10 day cleanse.  At this point I had already lost a good deal of weight.  I was coming to the cleanse with the perspective that I was finally ready to “clean up” my diet.  I had already done a major overhaul, lessening the amount of food I was eating, doing away with the fast food as much as possible, avoiding my arch-nemesis coca-cola.

The product I purchased came with a schedule of supplements that included a fiber drink, herbal cleanse tablets, and probiotics.  These supplements are definitely major players in a cleanse, but the elimination of the trouble maker foods are really the core of being on a cleanse.  And who are these trouble makers? Well, let me tell you— they are the foods that I once held most dear.  You know, breads, refined sugar, cheese, milk, butter, pasta, rice, white potatoes, oils, condiments such as ketchup, mayo, salad dressings, candy.  Oh and of course, soda!!! 

So what does that leave to eat during the cleanse?  Lots of vegetables, fruit, and lean protein.  And tons of water!  Along with the Advocare Herbal Cleanse, I have also done the Arbonne Herbal Cleanse.  Same premises, different “proprietary blends” in their detox drinks/mixes— but it truly is the food and water that the whole cleanse is built on.  Each meal is supposed to consist of a lean protein, vegetables, and a complex carb.  

Lean Proteins

  • chicken breast
  • egg whites
  • lean ground beef
  • salmon
  • cod
  • tuna
  • whey protein 
  • greek yogurt (low fat or nonfat)

Complex Carbs

  • beans
  • lentils
  • oatmeal
  • quinoa
  • sweet potatoes
  • whole grains (wheat/rice etc.)


  • Asparagus 
  • Broccoli 
  • Brussels Sprouts 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Celery 
  • Cucumber 
  • Dark Leafy Greens (spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard, etc.) 
  • Eggplant 
  • Green Beans 
  • Onion 
  • Peppers 
  • Salad Greens (spring mix, romaine, etc.) 
  • Tomato
  • Zucchini/squash

Healthy fats, fruit, and some dairy may be included during your cleanse, but in moderation.  Certainly healthy fats should be added a little at each meal to help  you remain satiated longer.  Make sure you stick to the correct portion size and only have one portion or less per meal.  Fruit can be eaten as a snack or with one meal of the day, but it is a natural sugar and while you body processes it well, too much fruit can turn into a problem and keep you from the maximum results of the cleanse.  If you can avoid all dairy, that is for the best during a cleanse.  If you must have some, stick to the list below and make it once a day or maybe every other day.

Healthy Fats

  • Avocado
  • Natural Nut Butters
  • Olive Oil
  • Almonds
  • Egg Yolk


  • Apple 
  • Banana
  • Berries (strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.)
  • Cantaloupe
  • Citrus Fruits (orange, tangerine, grapefruit, etc.)
  • Grapes 
  • Kiwi
  • Mango 
  • Melon 
  • Pear
  • Pineapple 


  • Nonfat yogurt
  • Skim Milk
  • Cottage Cheese

If you are trying to live a healthy life and treat your body well, you will need to drink plenty of water.  This is especially true on a cleanse.  The theory is that they herbal cleanse tablets/drink are helping your body to release toxins and better absorb nutrients.  Once these toxins are released, help is needed from drinking good old H2O to speed the “flushing” along.  Basically, water moves everything along and it vital for all cellular functions of the body.  One suggestion for how much water you should drink per day is to take your body weight in pounds and multiply by 2/3 (67%) and your result will be the number of ounces you should drink for the day.  If you are adding physical activity to your day, you should add about 12 oz of water per 30 minutes of exercise.

 The goal of a cleanse is to essentially “reset” your digestive system and detox from dependency on refined sugar and processed/junk foods.  The possibility of losing weight is typically a major factor in one’s decision to embark on a cleanse.  Now, of the 5 times I’ve followed a cleanse plan since my first one back in 2012, I’ve had varying results. They usually depend on how closely I stick to the food guidelines of the cleanse.  I’ve lost anywhere from 5-10lbs on a 7 or 10 day cleanse, with a good portion of that loss being water weight for sure.  Letting go of the sodium and refined sugar releases water weight.  The first 2 days of committing to the cleanse I usually feel a tad cranky and somewhat of “withdrawal” feelings from not having any processed food at all.  By the 3rd day, I feel wonderful, and so it goes for the rest of the cleanse phase.  As the cleanse ends, I can honestly say I do not crave sugar and junk food, but usually there still exists some conditioned thoughts on my mind of “well you can have a treat now, you did so well for those 10 days!” or some such 

variant of that idea.  

Many types of cleanses besides what I have described exist.  There are juice cleanses (to be written about here in there future!), and of course more extreme cleanses (think Master Cleanse— Cayenne pepper anyone?!).  I’d love to hear comments about your experiences, thoughts, and opinions with “being on a cleanse”.

About chelseasfitlife@gmail.com:
I am a runner and fitness fanatic who is dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle 80% of the time. I live in Texas and divide my time between raising 3 children, teaching, and living a fit life.

  1. I’ve done a cleanse from Beyond Diet, it was 7 days of specific foods to eat and that’s it, no pills or anything. Just cleansing through foods and I felt great afterwards. Lost like 5 lbs during.

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