What is the Clean Program & Do Cleanses Work?

I first head about Dr. Alejandro Junger’s Clean program HERE on a Goop.com newsletter from Gwyneth Paltrow who interviewed Dr. Junger just after she completed her 3 weeks on the plan. It was interesting to me because she’s not overweight, and  she wasn’t wanting to starve herself, she just wanted to ditch some sluggishness and awaken her digestion which she did while also losing a few extra pounds she’d gained- an added bonus. She ate and nourished her body the whole time so she could continue to exercise and be an active mommy. Clean was allowing her system a much needed rest. Of course the byproduct of the cleanse is weight loss, but it isn’t its first priority, its first priority is better health. The kind of health that you can feel throughout your entire body, that radiates out of your pores in a way that’s visible to you and those around you. I was sold. I reached out to Clean*, got out my blender and went for it.

I have to say first that I didn’t believe in doing cleanses. I’d heard about the master cleanse and other fasts and my impression was that this just something people did to lose weight quickly, which is why my friends gave me the hardest time when I announced to them that I’d be doing Clean’s program so I could review it here for you. My admittedly slight frame wasn’t exactly what would come to mind when you’d think about who should be dong a cleanse, and I didn’t want to lose weight, but I’m always interested in better health. After all, why are we buying expensive creams and getting all dolled up if we’re just filling our bodies with junk and making ourselves sick?

How Clean Came to be and How it Works

Clean was born because of Dr. Junger’s own health decline after medical school. He eventually found a two week juice fast that quickly restored his health and shaved off 15 pounds and about 10 years according to friends.  He was determined to combine the juice-only results with science-proven supplements and nutrition to help with detoxification so our bodies can release the junk we store up that leads to all kinds of illnesses. He found that when our organs become overwhelmed they can’t detoxify which causes inflammation, malfunction, and the collapse of our systems. When our bodies are focused on digestion, they aren’t detoxifying. Giving that constant digestion a break allows for the body to heal itself naturally, repair damage, and restore functionality. A huge benefit unique to the program are its nutrients specifically designed to promote gut repair which is where 80% of our immune tissues live, a starting point for many illnesses.

What to Expect on a Clean Cleanse

Just the term ‘cleanse’ sounds so elitist and unappealing, but the people at Clean are some of the nicest and approachable around. They believe so strongly in helping people achieve better health that they make themselves available throughout your entire journey should you need them for anything. They also have a huge online community forum where you can share recipes, read journal entries and watch videos from other people doing Clean.

I have to admit that I was really nervous that first morning of the program. I’d never been on a diet of any kind, so putting rules around my eating was really scary. I took the supplements that accompany the cleanse, 4 of the 5 you take 3 times daily when you eat: Clear 1, a digestive support, Clear 2, herbs that support your immune system and help with the detoxification, Ease for enzyme-based digestion support, Balance to regulate your blood sugar, and Encourage, a super probiotic to calm irritable bowels and bring your intestinal flora back in balance. I made a yummy smoothie using a scoop of Nourish, a rice protein and vitamin packed meal replacement formula with Move, a fiber blend, along with some frozen blueberries, almond butter, and almond milk (there are a ton of variations in making the smoothies, that’s just what I did.) I traded off using the vanilla and chocolate flavored Nourish (which were both surprisingly tasty) since you’re having a smoothie every morning and night, I liked having that flavor variety.

Lunch is when you eat. You make food excluding the few things on their Elimination Diet, a guide to help you choose the least allergy and mucus producing foods. This guide alone led me down a path to figure out what foods weren’t working for me.  I made batches of soups ahead of time that I enjoyed for several days with salads. I also did a lot of brown rice or quinoa with steamed veggies. I’m a vegetarian, so this was pretty close to a typical lunch and I felt comfortable eating a complete yet light meal. I felt great after and could return to work clear headed and ready to go. Preparation is key, so plan out your meals ahead of time so they can be made quickly.

After the first few days, you develop a pattern and it gets easier. I’m the type of person who needs to chew to feel full so even though the smoothie filled me up, my mind wanted something more. This eventually faded away even though I did snack a few times in between meals (totally allowed) on fruit or nuts for a little nibble. I also loved the lightness from having a liquid dinner. I didn’t feel like a blob at night just waiting for the time to pass so I could go to bed. I realized that I may have been eating too lightly in the afternoon which caused me to eat more at night and feel heavy, another habit I’ve since changed.

Jenny, a Clean Wellness Counselor was to relax, listen to my body, and be patient with myself. Why did it take a stranger to give me permission to nap once in a while, something I’m pretty stubborn about doing because it feels like such a waste of precious, productive time..?

What I learned from Clean

For me, the program ended up being a big learning experience. When I finished, I was inspired to continue better health and to listen to what my body is telling me, especially when it’s begging me to slow down.  I also found out a whole new community of people like Dhrumil and Philip over at WeLikeItRaw.com, a site that inspires me daily with the guys’ passion for life and care for others. These two have a fun and unique approach to health and living, and they’re such great friends that Philip made Dhru this touching video as a birthday gift which included all of his friends giving their sweet birthday wishes (note to self, do that for someone!). I was beginning to understand that being patient and kind to your body and yourself as Jenny had encouraged, can trickle into an awakening to how I viewed others and approached life. I know it sounds a little out there, but I felt a shift, a re-focus and not just with food but with where I wanted to put my energy in life. Things just seemed a lot clearer all of a sudden.

So if you’re wondering what can happen in just a few weeks when you do the Clean Program, I guess the answer is… anything. Will you lose weight? Yes. Will you feel better? Probably. Will you be able to see an improvement in your skin? Definitely. But, will you get more out of the time beyond just shedding inches and drinking smoothies? I really hope so. I know I did

* Full disclosure: I sent Clean an email after reading about it asking if I could review the line so they mailed a kit for me to try free of charge. I didn’t promise a positive review or anything at all actually, I simply told them I wanted to review a cleanse for my readers who have been asking about the benefits of cleansing for the skin.


  1. Recently Goop.com had more information about Clean so I ordered the system. Their customer service is excellent and I am very excited to shed the pounds I gained during the holidays.

  2. I just ordered it because of your thoughts. I'm really nervous but hopeful that I can get healthy and lose this baby weight I never lost.

  3. Shannon McGinley says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey, Carissa! What a thoughtful and clear description of the Clean program. I think learning to listen more to your body is one of the greatest benefits people receive from the program – so happy to see you touch on that. And I love your site!


  4. Hello Carissa:

    Thankyou for such a thorough and thoughtful explanation of the Clean program. I too have had a positive experience with Clean – Having worked in healthcare for many years, I appreciate Dr. Junger's work and the passion and dedication of the Clean Team.

    By the way – I am really enjoying and learning from Hooked on Beauty!!


  5. Just the other day I was thinking about doing the master cleanse so I bought the pepper, syrup, and water for it. I'm not reconsidering. This seems like a healthier option. Is the weight loss as good?

  6. Wonderful explanation and thoughts surrounding your Clean experience Carissa!

    It was our absolute pleasure to support you and to witness your journey. . . keep in touch and definitely update us on your post cleanse adventures!

    x Jenny

  7. I've cleansed using Clean twice a year for a few years now and I love it. Their online community is so supportive.

  8. This is a new take on cleanses from what I've read in the past. I hear good things about Clean, Demi Moore was doing it this summer and I was thinking about it too.

  9. Wow! So great to hear about your awesome experience with Clean. Learning to listen to your body (or allowing yourself to listen to your body) can be tough. It's really something to be compassionate and patient with yourself. Keep up the great work. :)

  10. This was such a great post! It was very in depth.

    I just discovered hooked on beauty through the rest of the clean team and it is right up my alley. I definitely love all the tips and advice especially b/c I'm definitely a bit of a makeup-beauty lover! Thank you for all of this great information.

  11. Hi Carissa,

    A total pleasure to have been part of your Clean experience. I really appreciate everything you are up to!

    Here's to your health!

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