We've read enough about juice cleanses recently to know that they're a divisive topic of discussion among nutritionists, personal trainers and wellness experts.
And yet, the global health trend continues to soar. Formerly the domain of trendy up-market juice bars, bottled greens are now readily available at your local supermarket. In the United States, where the liquid food craze first peaked several years ago, cold-pressed juices are now being sold at coffee chains such as Starbucks and Pret A Manger - for around $10 a pop.
When juice cleanses hit the market in 2009, according to Racked, celebrities such as Blake Lively, Beyonce and Jennifer Aniston began spruiking different versions. But there were also plenty of A-listers who refused to jump on board.
"Telling people you're on a juice cleanse is a perfect way to make sure everyone is visualising you having diarrhoea," Nicole Richie once tweeted.
"On day 1 of my juice cleanse and it's going great ... and by that I mean I am starving and want to punch anyone eating within 10 feet of me," Lauren Conrad wrote.
Over the years, the juicing trend has been praised by enthusiasts as a quick and efficient low-calorie blast of nutrients, but also denounced as a potentially dangerous and unsustainable way to shed kilos in record time.
So, how does drinking your meals for consecutive days affect your health and is it really worth paying upwards of $10 a bottle for pulverised produce?
I decided to get the skinny on juicing, by attempting a five-day detox myself.
But before I launch into just how gruelling that working week was, slurping my supper when surrounded by the all the tasty temptations that New York City has to offer, here's what the experts tell us.
Leading nutritionist Susie Burrell says, compared with some of the toxic weight loss programs out there, "there is nothing technically wrong with a juice detox". She adds: "If followed for a short (3-5 days) period, you will drop a couple of kilos and feel lighter and more energised as a result."
However, the biggest issue nutritionally is that fruit juice in particular is packed full of sugar. "As such, drinking large volumes of fruit based juice plays havoc with both glucose and insulin levels long term," Burrell tells news.com.au.
"While this may not be such an issue for a 6ft tall, ex-athlete who needs to lose 30-40kg, for the 60-80kg sedentary female, consuming such large volumes of sugar for extended periods of time is not such a good idea."
Burrell explains a major concern with complete juice detox programs is that they are inadequate in essential nutrients, including protein, to be followed for long periods of time.
Personal trainer and co-founder of The Collective Elite (The CE) Dwayne Anthony says he is "firmly against" juice cleanses and never recommends them to his predominantly female clientele.
"Firstly, we need to get to the bottom of why people think they need to do a juice cleanse in the first place," he tells news.com.au. "Your liver and kidneys are already working hard 24/7 to detoxify your body from the toxins you're exposed to. There really is no need to add an external source to further the natural detoxification process," Anthony explains.
"Secondly, when on a juice cleanse you'll be consuming a very concentrated amount of calories usually containing high amounts of sugar with each juice.
"For example, a glass of orange juice may contain four oranges; I couldn't imagine many people sitting down to eat four oranges in one go ... Additionally, all the fibre is removed from the juice. This is a problem because fibre helps regulate your blood sugar."
For Anthony, with 10 years' experience as a trainer under his belt, the biggest issue with juice cleanses is "how extreme it is".
"From my experience people typically choose to do a juice cleanse or detox as a kickstart to a healthy lifestyle change. Their belief that to be healthy they have to make a drastic change is the big problem," he says. "I call this the 'diet-style mindset' which is the product of a broken health and fitness industry, which I think has been caused by extreme celebrity diets, quick-fix programs and health and fitness magazine cover headlines for years now."
So, to juice or not to juice? With all signs pointing to the possible side effects and after-cleanse slump as far outweighing the potential short-term health benefits, I was sceptical.
Here's how the longest five days of my life played out.
(Most cleanses allow you six juices a day. I was instructed to consume one juice every two hours and to make sure I finished each and every bottle, no matter what. Absolutely no solids and the only thing you're allowed to consume other than your juice is good old H20 and herbal tea - with zero caffeine!)
I started off so sprightly, even went to the gym. This, in hindsight, was an error. Two juices in at 10am and I was ravenous. So I had my third juice and as much water as my bladder could handle before it was time for the fourth juice.
The juices actually taste fine, as long as they are nice and chilled. Some are harder to swallow than others - one word, broccoli.
I noticed that I was colder sitting at my desk than usual, freezing almost. I made a mental note to rug up the next day and put myself to bed super early that night. The sooner this week was over, the better.
Woke up with a pretty sizeable headache this morning, figured it was most likely the lack of coffee (I'm usually a two-a-day girl), sucked it up and got on with my second caffeine-free day in I don't know how long.
It was slightly difficult to concentrate feeling cold all the time, the chilled juices had caused my body temperature to drop, but the herbal tea was a lifesaver.
The other challenge was trying to keep it on the lowdown from colleagues. The last thing I wanted was for it to become office goss that I was 'doing a cleanse'. I just wanted to get it done, as quickly and quietly as possible, with limited fuss. Talking about it, and being able to smell everyone else's croissants, bagels, coffee, bacon and egg rolls wafting around the office just made me sulk. Get out of my face with your buttery raisin toast.
Today was absolutely the hardest of all five days (like Hump Day isn't horrendous enough without throwing an all-liquid, no caffeine diet into the mix).
It didn't help that I had a work function on that evening, with the most delicious-looking canapés I've ever seen floating around the room. Or perhaps delirium had set in and they were just your run-of the-mill canapés. But to me, they all looked like heaven on a plate.
I lasted about 20 minutes and then smoke bombed out the back door, home to my fridge
full of cold pressed treats.
I'm pretty sure I dreamt about muffins that night.
By day four, I was fairly over it. Mostly because I was bored, and I was missing my one true love in life - coffee.
But I could see the home stretch and was definitely feeling more awake than usual, my mind was clearer, as the team at Agavi Juice told me it would be. My tummy was also feeling fabulous, flatter than it has been since I landed in the Big Apple, that's for sure.
Things almost came crashing down in the most disastrous way that evening when my boyfriend arrived home with some takeaway Thai food tucked boldly under his arm. Cruel, so cruel.
This morning I was fist-pumping the air as I strode into work. I could do it, I had nearly done it! I just needed to survive the challenge of my favourite Friday night ritual - cracking a bottle of red and hooking into a cheese plate of epic proportions with my girlfriends. I turned my phone off, watched some beautiful Jon Hamm in Mad Men while sipping my very last juice and quietly congratulating myself on being the Queen of Discipline.
On the morning of day six, I was finally able to eat solids again. Hellooo, flat white and poached eggs with avocado on toast.
I attempted a short run that morning but didn't last very long. There's a reason they tell you to limit your exercise, it's too much with no food in your belly. The gym would have to wait.
Physically, my skin was looking fresher and I felt lighter. My eyes had cleared up as well. I didn't get on the scales though, because this was never about losing weight, it was about feeling good again and giving my body a bit of a break from everything that I'd been putting in it over summer in America. Farewell, Frosé season. It's been real.
Did I enjoy it? No, not really. Would I do it again? Not anytime soon, that's for sure. But was it rewarding? Absolutely, and although five days is so tough (experts don't recommend anyone do longer than that), briefly eliminating foods many of us tend to consume daily - dairy, wheat, gluten, meat, coffee, alcohol - was pretty refreshing. And afterwards, I slept like a baby.