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These days, cleanses come in a lot of forms — from liquid-only fasts to "clean" eating plans that cut out inflammatory foods like sugar, alcohol, and dairy. What ties them all together is that they're meant to remove impurities from your body and help you shed pounds. But before you break out that juicer (or order your wedding gown a size too small), know this: You may drop weight, but it's usually temporary. Instead, think of cleanses as a jump start to a healthier diet. "People often come off a cleanse appreciating the feeling and wanting to continue to eat healthier, and it can improve your energy, skin, and sleep," says New York City nutritionist Keri Glassman. "But I would be wary of anything that requires you to invest a lot of money or eat no solid food for a week."
We know you're curious, though. We were too. So BRIDES put six of them— from the less-intense solid-food variety to the seriously-don't-try-this-without-talking-to-your-doctor options— to the test.
$195 for three days; available at Blueprint.
"The first day, I felt very tired and was having fantasies about Buffalo wings! But I started to have more energy by day two," says one tester who ended the cleanse four pounds lighter, with glowing skin. "But three of those came back when I started eating salty foods again a few days later." One complaint: the high sugar content of many of the juices. The spicy lemonade has 29 grams!
Be Well Cleanse
For 14 days, you drink three vitamin shakes daily (made by adding water or nut milk to a provided powder) and take supplements. You also have lunch and dinner (sans dairy, gluten, sugar, or processed food) you cook yourself.
$229; available at bewellbydrfranklipman.com.
"The shakes take some getting used to— I gagged the first day— but I liked eating lots of real food. Never got hungry," says one tester who dropped five pounds and still kept up with her five-mile runs. "The cleanse really allows you to realign your thinking about what you eat," says another. "You realize you don't need cheese on your salad or sugar in your almond-milk latte."
For each day of the Bridal Kit cleanse, you get three organic juices, two raw vegan meals (think kale salad or a veggie wrap), one light snack (such as spicy lemon almonds), two teas, and supplements— all shipped to you, ready to go.
$150 for three days; available at Urban Remedy.
Our testers raved about the raw foods and found that the juice-and-meal combo kept them full. Says one BRIDES editor who tried this a few weeks before her own wedding and lost four pounds: "It helped me avoid stress eating or over-indulging because I knew exactly what I had to eat each day while I was running around. And, I have to say, I felt confident and beautiful at my wedding." Post-cleanse, she's better about drinking water and has shed her sugar cravings, she says. "I went to Paris for my honeymoon, and I had no desire to eat macarons!"
See More: Wedding Diet Recipes for Brides
On iZO's Hardcore Cleanse (a Gwyneth fave), you'll down13 teas and juices in unique flavors like fennel-lemon and cilantro-avocado each day for three to 14 days. (Our testers completed five days.)
$129 per day; available at iZO Cleanse.
"I wasn't hungry at all because I had so much to drink. I didn't come close to finishing the juices on any of the days," reports one tester who lost seven pounds. Says another: "I usually need coffee to start my day, but I had so much energy that I didn't need it, and I felt strong enough to do hot yoga."
Martha's Vineyard Diet Detox
For 21 days, you drink a fresh greens-based juice every two hours during the day and vegetable broth for "dinner." (Yep, no chewing the entire time.) The plan includes drink mix, protein powder, and supplements, but you use your own produce for recipes.
$199; Available at MV Diet Detox.
Our tester made it the full 21 days, "cheating" only a few times by eating an apple or a spoonful of salsa. Not so surprisingly, she dropped a whopping 15 and a half pounds. "I was nervous beforehand, but it was easy to follow once I got into a routine," she says. "I slept so much better and was no longer tired during the day. Plus, my skin is so clear and bright now, I've stopped wearing foundation!"
Six to 12 glasses a day of a homemade blend of lemon juice, water, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. The number of days is up to you; we did it for 10.
Varies since you buy your own supplies.
Our testers found it surprisingly doable. "I missed the tactile experience of eating food, but the lemonade was delicious. I didn't get tired of it," says one tester who lost 10 pounds. The downside: "I was spacey and low-energy at times, so this would not be something to do right before the wedding."
Number of testers: 11
Total pounds lost: 66
Total pounds regained: 39
Longest cleanse: 21 days
Hardest part: having a social life! "It was tough to avoid dinners out or say no to cocktails," — says one tester.
Before You Cleanse
1. Get cleared to do it.
Especially with some of the more extreme cleanses or if you have existing health issues, always get your doctor's OK before starting. Seriously. Do this.
2. Schedule it a few weeks to a few months prior to the wedding.
Whatever you do, steer clear of the final week. Not only will you be swimming in your dress if you drop too much weight at the last minute, but reintroducing alcohol or "regular" food after a period of careful eating can cause stomach issues at first, definitely not what you want on your big day.
3.Expect to be a bit of a bridezilla.
"Side effects could include lightheadedness, constipation, and irritability," says Glassman. In other words, maybe not the optimal time to go dress shopping with your mother-in-law.