To Juice, or Not to Juice?

Chatting with founders, plus our take on a popular juice cleanse

A collection of the juices included in the "absolute beginner" level of BluePrintCleanse.

With the arrival of bikini season, it’s no surprise that many are turning to juice cleanses to help transform their less-than-stellar physiques into veritable eye candy. If you are open to drinking your meals for a few days — and willing to shell out a considerable amount of cash — a juice cleanse may be just the thing for you.

After watching my co-worker enthusiastically power through a cleanse in April, I agreed to do one with her in May. Why would I want to drink my meals for three days? Several reasons: To re-evaluate what, when, and why I eat; to kill my sweet tooth; and to — hopefully — lose a few pounds.

So we did it. "It" meaning one introduction day of three 16-ounce juices plus a snack, dinner, and dessert — all vegan — followed by three days of six juices each. Check out my Cooler Cleanse Food Diary to see my take on the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Beach body dreams aside, cleanse advocates champion the controversial practice for its alleged toxin-eliminating abilities and energizing properties. They suggest that cleanses allow the body to detoxify while still getting essential nutrients. But doctors and nutritionists tend to argue that the body cleanses itself and that juicing is not necessary for optimal health.

The Daily Meal connected with the founders of two popular New York City-based operations to see what inspired the creation of their programs and how they benefit the body.