Summer Slim Down: We Put 4 Juice Cleanses to the Test

Updated 05/01/19
Byrdie Australia

As we move through December into summer proper (also known as "bikini season") it's natural to want to reassess our respective diets. Where hearty soups and hot chocolate reigned supreme only a few months ago, warm weather naturally inspires cravings for lighter fare. Still, it can be hard letting go of all that comfort food (hot chips still taste good cold y'all), which is where juice cleanses can help. While once pegged as the only way to give your digestive system a break (FYI, non-juice cleanses can do that too), we now know the benefits of juicing go beyond flooding your system with nutrients.

For many of us, a juice cleanse is less about cutting out junk, and more about carving out an opportunity to reset bad eating habits. Plus, there are notable skin and hair benefits that come along with juicing. (#Winning.)

In the interest of bringing you the very best juice cleanses in Sydney (which is where we're based), we trialled more than a few. Ahead you'll find our favourites, each chosen to fill a specific need. Whether you're a keen beginner or an old hand in want of a "green only" challenge, there's an option to suit. Consider this the ultimate guide to choosing the best juice cleanse for you.

Keep scrolling for our reviews.

The Beginner Cleanse

Cleanse trialled: Pressed Juices Balance Cleanse ($198 for 3 days).


Pre-cleanse thoughts:

I don’t have a terrible diet, but I’m partial to a glass of wine, the odd square (or 6) of chocolate, and the occasional pasta feast—aren't we all? Most foods don’t impact my mood or weight too much, but I was ready to give my body a break, and I wanted to feel refreshed. I was also keen to see how I'd feel after removing carbs, dairy, and sugar from my diet. I assumed a three dayer would be a walk in the park—especially as I don’t drink coffee. 

Day 1:

At 9 a.m. I had my first juice, a zingy strawberry and ginger "lemonade". Not long afterwards I felt light-headed and hungry so I moved onto juice two sooner than expected. (I could afford to—there are eight juices per day.) Juice two was more like a smoothie, a creamy coconut and avocado concoction that I wished would never end. I felt better the instant I took a mouthful, but shortly afterwards I was light-headed again. I also had a headache and was hungry—bad combo. Soon I started craving green tea.

(And I thought I wouldn't get caffeine pangs—rookie.) As I moved onto juice three, I again felt better whilst drinking it, then average afterwards. At this stage, a little before 11 a.m., I had been to the bathroom a fair few times! I was longing for the next juice to kill my headache, but as midday rolled around, I felt a little faint. Pressed Juices suggest eating a few almonds if needs be to tide yourself over, so I ate a small handful at my desk. By mid-afternoon, and the end of juice five, I had turned the corner and started to feel really good. I was productive and energetic for the rest of the day.

The best part was yet to come with the second to last drink, "Chocolate Almond Mylk", a healthy take on chocolate milk. Between that and "The Sour Cherry" (a sleep-inducing blend of cherry, nopal cactus and lavender) I felt satisfied before heading off to bed.

Day 2:

I had a great sleep, woke up easily and (surprisingly) wasn't hungry at all. By 10 a.m. I'd downed two juices and was feeling focused and energised. Before I knew it, it was 1 p.m. and I hadn't finished juice three yet. I didn't feel like I was as desperate for them as I had the previous day, which was great. As the afternoon rolled around, I started to feel tired and peckish, but overall I was calm and almost zen-like. It was the best I had felt in a long time. My concentration also increased immensely.

I didn’t work out intensely during the cleanse, but I did go on my usual walks and felt really motivated to do so.

Day 3:

Again, I bounced out of bed after another solid night of sleep. I felt like I needed a juice ASAP on this morning, but as soon as I drank it I felt good. Day three started to feel a little more like day one—by 10 a.m. I was vague, light-headed, and foggy. On the plus side, I was still feeling really light. (I also had the flattest stomach I'd had in a while...) Come lunchtime, I needed some food so I snacked on a cucumber as recommended by Pressed Juices. That brought me back to an energetic and focused state.


Post-cleanse thoughts:

Experiencing the cleanse made me realise how great I feel when I’m not putting carbs, dairy, and sugar into my body, and increasing my fruit and vegetable intake. I don’t think I have ever felt so clear-headed, energetic or focused, and the changes I saw made me reconsider my diet going forward. I’m not going to lie, the first bite of avocado toast the next day was the greatest thing I’ve ever tasted, but the cleanse—although tough at times—exceeded my expectations. I'd definitely do it again.

The Glow-Boosting Cleanse

Cleanse trialled: Cali Press Standard Juice Cleanse ($195 for 3 days).


Pre-cleanse thoughts:

I’m feeling a little apprehensive about going without food for three days. (Plus, beginning a cleanse on a Monday after a weekend away with the girls might not have been the best decision I’ve ever made...) The winter months (feat. lack of regular exercise and an overly indulgent diet) haven’t been kind on my body, and I am in need of a refresh and reset. I’m hoping the cleanse will prep me to start ticking off the health goals I have set myself for summer, and give my skin a boost. The cleanse I’ve chosen contains a daily menu of 5 x 500ml juices and 1 x 500ml smoothie to be drunk at specific times throughout the day.

Day 1:

I’m usually hungry when I wake up, and an average weekday breakfast for me is bircher with fruit and Greek yoghurt at 6.30 a.m., plus a coffee for the commute to work. Then I’ll have a ‘second breakfast’ around 10.30 a.m. of toast and Vegemite or peanut butter, plus a second coffee. I'm big into breakfast!

On day #1 of my cleanse I pick up the juice from my local Cali Press store—which just happens to be next door to my favourite coffee shop. (Cue caffeine cravings... Must. Be. Strong.) The first drink is a "Recovery Lemonade" made from filtered water, lemon, raw sugarcane, activated charcoal and bentonite clay. I have it at work at my desk at 8 a.m. (as suggested), and although the liquid looks confronting, it tastes delicious. By mid-morning I’d usually be two coffees and two breakfasts deep, so I’m pleased to see my second juice is actually a green smoothie (kale, spinach, cos, celery, cucumber, parsley, lemon, banana, super greens and coconut).

And it is so good. Mine got extra chilled in the fridge, so at first I needed a spoon to eat it. No bad thing! The banana and coconut bulked it up and made my breakfast cravings disappear for a while. By 11.30 a.m. I feel tired. The lack of coffee is taking its toll. It’s quite hard to concentrate for a while, so I leave my desk for a five-minute walk around the block, which does the trick.

Our office is chilly, so I grab myself a mug of tea to warm up. The cleanse comes with two different teas from Ovvio Organics. Pure-Ify is a mix of lemon myrtle, lynden flower, peppermint leaf, dandelion root and leaf and green rooibos. It tastes delish. My next juice, "Golden State" is a mix of orange, carrot, pineapple, green apple and lemon, and this one is like liquid gold! Just the flavour hit I needed as I’m flagging. I find that the juices make me feel good as I’m drinking them, which takes around 20 minutes, and I’m consciously drinking slowly to enjoy them.

It's 2.15 p.m. and time for another tea. This time it’s the Derma-Kleanz for my skin and bowel health. I’ve hit another little tired patch, and have a case of the nibbles. But I will not break. Come 5 p.m., my tummy is rumbling loudly! I would actually love to eat some food. I drink juice #5 ("The Cali"—a refreshing cucumber, kale, celery, cos, spinach, green apple, lemon and mint combo) on the ferry home. It’s all green juices for the rest of the day and I’m day dreaming about eating nuts. Something to crunch.

At 7.30 p.m., it's time for the last juice of the day. This one is called "The Popeye" and is a mix of kale, spinach, cos, celery, cucumber, parsley and lemon. Hoping it’ll help me strengthen my muscles like its namesake.  

Day 2:

No hunger pangs when I woke up today, which is a change for me. I weighed myself, and I’ve lost 1.5 kg over night! Apparently it’s just "water weight", but my jeans are noticeably loser, and after only one day, I’ll take that! It was a struggle to walk past the coffee shop and not stop by for a flat white—not sure I’ll ever lose that coffee craving. First juice of the day is same again—super tasty! And I’m looking forward to my mid-morning smoothie, but today I feel a bit sick immediately after I drink it.

Apparently nausea is to be expected, and I decide if this feeling continues, I might have to eat something. Maybe an apple and some almonds. But the nausea passes and I sail through the rest of day #2 on a bit of a high. I don’t even hit the 3 p.m. need for nibbles. Another early night and a super deep sleep (I’m finding that sleeping well, and for a full eight hours, is a major benefit of cleansing).

Day 3:

Feel like I’m really getting into the swing of things today. Zero hunger pangs when I wake, and I’ve dropped another 1.5 kg over night (bonus!), plus I’m feeling happy and refreshed from another good night’s sleep. I’ve noticed that my skin is looking clearer and more hydrated, and I can see a brightness in my eyes and a lack of dark shadows under my eyes. So far, so amazing. I’m interviewing a Hollywood star at lunchtime (no biggie!), and as she sits down to enjoy a cosmopolitan opposite me, I have to turn down an offer to join her.

I explain that I’m juice cleansing, and for the first time this week, I feel pretty bummed about it! I mean, how often do you get the chance to share a cosmo with your favourite TV star? Back in the office, I’m zipping through my work at speed, and actually have more time in the day—it’s amazing how much of life is spent buying food, cooking and eating—this juice cleanse has been so easy in that respect.

Post-cleanse thoughts:

I’d like to keep going for another few days. Cali Press does offer this option, so perhaps next time I’ll go all in and do a full working week. I feel like I’ve learnt to eat more intuitively. I know it’s fine to be hungry for a while rather than constantly snacking and nibbling between meals. I’m really pleased that this cleanse includes teas, as I’ve felt a little cold sometimes. I'll definitely be doing the cleanse every couple of months going forward.

The Not-Just-Juice Cleanse

Cleanse trialled: Prodjuice's The Summer Cleanse ($267 for 3 days, including bone broth).


Pre-cleanse thoughts:

Confession: I'm seriously crap at juice cleansing. I've attempted a few in my time, and while I love the idea of giving my body a break, ditching solid food for extended periods of time never works out well for me. Especially at work. (Do you want to hear about the time I burst into tears at my desk because I'd left my phone at home or the time I was so vacant I left a meeting with zero understanding of my own notes?) So when an email detailing Prodjuice's not-just-juice cleanse pinged into my Inbox, I was excited—could their seasonal program (with real chewable food!) be the answer to my detox prayers?


Day 1:

This isn’t my first time with Prodjuice, so I already know I am in for a day of food, glorious food. (Not just juice.) I start with the Black Shot which is a tonic made from activated charcoal, lemon, cayenne pepper and filtered water intended to encourage healthy digestion and support the liver. (Very relevant for party season.) You can mix it with water if you’re not a fan of lemon but I am so I throw it back neat. It tastes like spicy dressing and I’m into it. Next is… wait. Coconut and pineapple pudding?

That can’t be right. I pull out the jar and take the lid off. It looks like a fancy Instagrammable dessert and tastes a bit like a pina colada. I feel like I’m cheating but apparently it's high in protein. One thing I do know is it’s bloody delicious so I am more than happy to take Prodjuice’s word on it's cleanse-appropriateness. Next comes an alkalising green juice and matcha smoothie (featuring mint, banana, kale, spinach, celery and cucumber), and I'm not suffering one bit. After that I down another spicy tonic made from turmeric, ginger, lemon, black pepper and cayenne, and chase it with filtered water.

As I make my way through the day's worth of food I'm genuinely excited to taste every single thing. My energy levels are stable, I don't have a headache and my emotions are in check. Next, it's a Mexican black bean salad for dinner and cacao, orange and reishi almond milk for dessert. If anything, I had the most trouble getting through the almond milk, simply because I prefer savoury over sweet. Regardless, it was delicious, and rounded off what was a seriously satisfying day of healthy eating.

Day 2: 

I rarely eat chia pudding at all let alone for breakfast, so it was strange for me to wake up craving it. I chalked it down to the meal's obvious dessert-for-breakfast appeal, and happily embraced it. At one point a colleague spotted my bowl and asked: "Aren't you cleansing today?" I nodded and smiled. As the day went on I felt a little headache-y, which was likely due to my brain missing its usual morning caffeine. I filled up my water bottle and powered through, and forgot about all things espresso after a while.

The day was a bit chilly so I was extra glad I'd opted to include bone broth in my cleanse. After work I was home alone and bored. Conditions were ideal for a junk food binge... Instead of reaching for the tub of Messina lodged in my freezer door, I warmed up the broth and poured it into a mug to sip. Note to self: Remember this strategy next time sugar cravings strike.

Day 3:

By the third day, my new temporary diet felt like a routine I could actually stick to long-term. The meals themselves were simple enough to recreate at home, and had inspired me to whip up big batches of bean-based salads and chia puddings for easy office meals going forward. Considering I generally get sick of eating the same thing pretty fast, this was a good sign. My regular diet is fairly healthy, and I naturally eat low carb, so it was an interesting experiment to add in fruit and beans to my diet.

I certainly felt a difference in my energy levels, and also found that eating something a little sweet in the mornings made me less likely to think about junk food later. 

Post-cleanse thoughts:

I am a huge fan of Prodjuice's seasonal cleanses—they've made me realise that detoxing or supporting my body doesn't have to look like restricting myself from whole foods. I"ll definitely be taking the digestive shot with me, as it is something I really enjoyed. (And so easy to DIY.) I'd recommend this cleanse to anyone who doesn't feel like they get all the benefits from a juice-only program or can't attempt one for health reasons. (Plus, anyone who likes delicious food.)

The Advanced Cleanse

Cleanse trialled: Lucky You Green Cleanse ($225 for 3 days).


Pre-cleanse thoughts:

This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve done five juice cleanses prior to this one, so I'm feeling confident I can get through it without even noticing I’m only ingesting liquids and I've gone with the Green Cleanse. I’m not doing it to lose weight, more as a reminder that I don’t need to eat constantly to feel full, and to be more mindful of what I put in my mouth. I also need a refresher on how I feel when I am eating healthily, compared with my current pasta dinner, chocolate dessert routine. Five days prior to the cleanse I cut alcohol and try to eat as cleanly as possible.

I switch Italian takeaway for vegetable stir-frys, and eat nothing that comes in a packet. My snacks were plums, almonds, and homemade avocado smash (avocado > everything). A lot of people advise doing a mini detox before you cleanse to maximise the benefits so I felt like I was in the best position possible before embarking on three days of no food. Here’s how it went down.

Day 1: 

I woke up absolutely starving, so not the best start. I work out every day (nothing crazy—think: reformer or a Kayla Itsines workout), and wanted to keep up my usual routine, so I downed a glass of hot water with lemon and dragged myself off to Pilates. After a few minutes, I forgot about the rumbling in my stomach and made it to the end of the class with no problems. My reward was the first juice of the day, a green smoothie. I poured it into a bowl and ate it with a spoon to trick myself into thinking it was yoghurt.

I chewed my way through the whole bottle, and it took me about half an hour to finish. It was delicious—I could easily start my morning this way every day. I spent the rest of the day with a straw hanging out of my mouth because I hate drinking directly from a bottle. The straw also helps me "chew" the juice, which is what most cleansing experts recommend. I had a horrendous headache all day but I put it down to cutting out my usual morning coffee and sugary treats. I went home, drank my last juice for the day—a cashew nut mylk—and slumped on the couch.

I didn’t move until I went to bed at about 9 p.m.... the same time my fiance pulled out a packet of Arnott’s Biscuits... 

Day 2: 

Surprisingly, I didn’t wake up hungry, but I still had a headache so decided to skip the gym. I did my usual hot water with lemon, and alternated juice and water throughout the day. I was basically drinking constantly, and visiting the bathroom every 30 minutes or so. I definitely felt like my body was feeling lighter and fresher than usual by the end of the day. Now that I knew what I was in for with each juice, I was looking forward to drinking numbers three and four when I got home. After work I went for a light walk, then went out with friends to an event I’d committed to before I booked my cleanse.

I drank half my nut mylk beforehand, so I wouldn’t be tempted to attack the canapes, and so I had something to look forward to when I got home. I barely lasted the distance, and again fell into bed by 9 p.m.  

Day 3: 

Day three arrived and the headache was gone, but hunger pangs visited me throughout the day. It’s was a Friday, and everyone was splashing out on their indulgent office meal for the week—I spied hot chips, several burrito bowls, and even a sneaky beer. Seeing it all made my tummy rumble, so I caved. (Well, I ate five almonds...) I felt like I had earned it and didn't have the guilts at all. I start thinking I'm going to miss the juices tomorrow. Starting the day off with a green smoothie and coconut water-based green juice has made me feel good.

The beetroot-based "lunch" juice, two additional green juices and delicious nut mylk round out what's come to feel like a great day. Everything is so easy to drink and I have to stop myself from swigging them down in one go. 

Post-cleanse thoughts:

It’s been a week since my cleanse and I am more mindful about what I’m putting in my mouth. I’m not overeating and actually stopping when I’m full. There were times when I found the cleanse almost impossible, but I like a good challenge, and that’s what this was all about. It was only three days without solid food, and I honestly believe if you put your mind to it it’s 100% achievable. Next time I’m going to try and quit coffee a week before so I don’t have the constant dull headache.

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