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3-Day Cleansing Diet

author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
3-Day Cleansing Diet
A bowl of vegetable quinoa. Photo Credit: Alexandralaw1977/iStock/Getty Images

Cleansing diets promise a fresh start by helping you clean up your eating habits, remove toxins and consequently improving energy and health. Following a cleansing diet for three days offers enough time to help you feel some of the benefits, but is short enough so that adherence is manageable. Experts, like those at the Mayo Clinic, warn to avoid cleanses that promise fast weight loss and recommend extremes like fasting or extra supplementation. The more sensible three-day cleanse is one that emphasizes whole foods rich in nutrition and discourages consumption of potential inflammatory products.

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A three-day cleanse discourages the consumption of caffeine, alcohol, sugar (in all its forms), excess sodium and refined flour. Rather than follow a liquid-only diet, nutritionist Joy Bauer, author of Bauer, author of "Joy's Life Diet," encourages eating fibrous fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy and ample amounts of water.


Eliminating processed foods and caffeine helps to restore natural energy levels and helps, after a day or two, to discourage cravings. The extra fiber in a cleansing diet emphasizing vegetables and fruits helps to scrub your digestive system from the inside out, making supplements and laxatives unnecessary. If you were to follow a fast for three days, you would likely become irritable, fatigued, and you would feel deprived. Following a three-day cleanse that promotes healthy eating is more likely to stimulate a healthy eating routine and encourage future weight loss.

Types of Food

For breakfast, try a whole grain hot cereal. Oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa are encouraged because they provide minerals as well as additional fiber. Enjoy vegetables like artichokes, asparagus, spinach and kale at any meal, as they provide vitamins and trace minerals along with fiber and minimal calories. The pectin in apples and high antioxidant content of berries make these fruits most often recommended on a cleanse. For three days, you might forgo meat altogether or accent your meals with small servings of organic chicken breast or salmon. Small servings of nuts like almonds and walnuts provide heart-healthy unsaturated fats.


If you are unaccustomed to a high fiber intake, you may experience some digestive upset during your cleanse. Caffeine and sugar withdrawal may cause headaches. If you choose to follow an extreme three-day cleanse that does not allow whole foods, you will likely feel tired and weak. Exercise during a cleanse is a matter of personal preference--while following a whole foods cleansing diet for three days, you should have enough energy to perform moderate workouts.


Although cutting out high-calorie processed foods will probably slash your overall daily calorie intake, do not embark on a three-day cleanse with illusions of losing a lot of weight. Three days are not enough to lose significant fat. Choosing a liquid-only diet may cause you to shed some weight initially, but that weight will come back when you return to your regular diet. A cleanse that emphasizes healthy foods may help instill healthy eating habits, and help you make better choices going forward to support weight loss.

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