Every January, my husband David and I commit to a detox loosely based on Dr. Alejandro Junger's Clean Program, eliminating caffeine, alcohol, sugar, dairy, grains, and processed foods. Starting this routine is always a little intimidating at first, but knowing that feel-good results like better sleep, more energy, improved digestion, and less brain fog are ahead is super motivating.
After a challenging year worldwide, we never felt more in need of a reset mentally and physically. This time though, I wanted to explore easier ready-to-eat options, especially to limit cooking time while juggling work and virtual school for our three kids at home.
Luckily, I was familiar with three plant-based meal plans to try that all incorporated similar principles from our original dietary guidelines: Sakara Level II: Detox, Urban Remedy's Metta-Morphosis, and the ProLon diet. With the 5-day delivery kits all scheduled, I felt empowered to stick with a clean diet even during off days, reaching a 21 total-day cleanse. Read on to hear my full journey and overall thoughts!
After trying one of Sakara's Signature plant-based programs back in the fall, I felt confident to take it up a notch with the detox version of the fresh meal delivery plan and began on January 25th. Sakara's mantra revolves around viewing food as medicine to reset the body and form healthier habits, and this program incorporates doctor-recommended dietary concepts like ketosis and intermittent fasting.
The Routine: Along with the pre-made meals delivered in two shipments, you receive a pack of supplements, a dry brush, peppermint digestive teas, mineral-packed Beauty Drops, and chlorophyll-based Detox Drops. A twice-daily dry brushing ritual allows the body to detoxify, too, while internal healing is happening with food. I felt very hydrated on a typical day because adding the Beauty or Detox drops to my glasses upped my water intake and frankly made it more enjoyable. I ate whole-food breakfasts like the Cinnamon Chia Parfait and lunches like the Rainbow Kitchari, savored the probiotic coconut kefir drink as a snack, and had a medicinal broth dinner, plus tea and regimented supplements after meals. The exception to this is day four—an all-liquid juice/soup day, and day five, where there's a full dinner instead of broth. Throughout the program, dairy, gluten, sugar, grains, nuts, soy, pesticides, chemicals, toxins, alcohol, caffeine, and nightshades are eliminated.
My Experience: Day two on this plan was tough because I started to feel the side effects of no coffee and had a horrible headache. No caffeine has been a constant cleansing struggle for me, so if anyone has a remedy, please let me know! By day four, this subsided—I felt more energized, less bloated, and my skin had a noticeable glow. The breakfast options were more decadent than I'm used to as I'm a smoothie girl, but the lunches were perfectly portioned. My absolute favorite was the Zucchini + Jimaca Noodles w/ Superfood Falafels that came with a delicious pesto sauce—if I could've eaten that more times, I would! It was a little challenging just to have broth for dinner but the Sakara plan allows supplementing with fresh veggies if needed. In the beginning, I added steamed broccoli to the broth for a crunch but by the end, I was fully adjusted and pleased with the results. Plus, I had leftover drops to enjoy the rest of the month.
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Once Sakara was completed, I eased into my next five-day program the following Saturday. Urban Remedy offers many plant-based meal options, but ultimately I selected the Metta-Morphosis plan for a total mind, body, and spirit overhaul. I absolutely love this company's healthy snacks, so I was excited to try new recipes in a regimented format. Their products are delivered in two shipments and are all organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, and non-GMO.
The Routine: Because this program is a total mind and body reset, it's recommended to do a guided meditation and light movement throughout the day. Each morning starts with alkalizing warm water with lemon, a low-glycemic green juice, and a Detox Tincture to pour in. Next up (mid-morning) is another green beverage with a De-Stress Tincture, and then lunch is always a veggie-packed meal like the Winter Salad made with protein-rich quinoa. As a snack, you have a Turmeric Relieve Shot to reduce inflammation and an afternoon herbal tea. Dinner is a hearty grain bowl with a superfood-blended nut milk as a nightcap.
My Experience: I really loved the tinctures, juices, and salads would want to continue having those even when not on a cleanse. Standouts were the yummy Vegan Caesar salads and the filling Macro bowls with colorful beets, pumpkin seeds, and kale. Since it's winter on the east coast, though, I would have loved some warm seasonal soups sprinkled in. The nut milk, while delicious, was a little too sweet for me as I'm sensitive to any sugar (even natural) too close to bedtime. This program had informative daily emails with inspiring videos, yoga classes, and a Facebook support group led by founder Neka Pasquale, which made me feel part of a community. Results-wise, I felt balanced, and my complexion continued to improve. If you're looking for a less restrictive plan, this program is a very do-able option no matter your lifestyle.
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3. ProLon Diet
After seeing Gwyneth Paltrow's impressive results from completing this five-day program on Netflix's The Goop Lab, I was inspired to try ProLon—because who doesn't trust GP?! The kit is science-backed and based on research by longevity expert Valter Longo, PhD, so all the essential macro and micronutrients needed in a day are included.
The Routine: I felt a little nervous starting this plan, because it mimics the effects of a fast on the body and seemed most challenging. Surprisingly, the first day was a breeze! Each daily pack included a mix of plant-based soups, supplements, crackers, olives, herbal teas, and tasty nut-based bars. The second and third days have fewer calories, but whenever I felt hunger pangs, I drank more of the "L-Drink." This is a berry or orange energy tincture that you blend with water based on your body weight, and it gave me a much-needed boost.
My Experience: I'm grateful to close out my journey with a more intensive program like ProLon. You feel like a badass after completing it, and overall, it was manageable since I was able to ease into it over the last few weeks. The soups were very flavorful and I loved the minestrone and tomato blends most. The satisfying fast bars—especially the evening choco crisp—felt like such a treat after a long day, and I purchased more to continue eating them after the cleanse had ended. ProLon's precise daily quantities are a convenient timesaver, and for me, the results from this program were the most drastic. By the end, I felt less bloated, was sleeping soundly, had reduced cravings, and felt much more productive. Take their advice, though, and don't exercise heavily during this plan! I did a cardio class on day two and felt compromised and exhausted because of it. There's a lot of variables to consider before starting a program like ProLon, and while it's not something I'll be able to commit to always, I'd repeat any of these incredible detox plans next time.
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