I just wanted to take some time out to address the concept of quick fix detox diets vs. using foods, herbs, fiber (psyllium husk) and natural things, like apple cider vinegar, to help the body detox. Let me say from the start that I’m not anti-detox. I do juice fasts and smoothie fasts to detox. I believe that there are some great healthy plans put out here by people like Dr. Oz on his show. There has been a lot of attention recently on extreme detox plans like the Lemonade Diet/Master Cleanse. Celebrities, such as Beyonce and Gwyneth Paltrow, have discussed being on extreme detox diets and both have talked about the issues that they had post detox.
“As soon as it was over, I gained the weight back – I ate everything when it was over… the second I looked at a donut, it came back! I gained back all the weight, even the weight I didn’t want to come back!” – Beyonce
In the weight loss world, there is one concept that will never die: Quick Weight Loss. Everyone wants to lose weight quickly. The industry knows this. Diet websites and diet book authors know this. So, they are happy to give us pills and plans that promise overnight results. We have all heard the claims…
- Tons of weight loss in just 7 days.
- Just take these pills and eat whatever you want.
- The weight will just melt off in 2 weeks.
Detox plans have now become part of that mix of quick weight loss promises. Can you lose weight with a detox plan? Sure, but you have to understand that they are not meant to be weight loss plans. They are meant to cleanse toxins from your body and give your system a chance to rest and not deal with all the chemicals, dyes, etc. in our food. You can’t just follow an extreme detox plan, end it, go back to eating what you ate to gain the weight and expect the pounds you lost not to come running back…possibly bringing new friendly pounds along. You have to be willing to embrace a healthy lifestyle afterward. These plans can be a gateway but they are not the destination.
Also, you want to chose a detox plan that will not harm your body and is not too extreme. Not all of these plans are sound in terms of their promises or science. Extreme detoxing and fasting could bring you health issues and most are not advised if you have issues with blood sugar (diabetes especially), blood pressure, your heart, are pregnant or nursing or have any serious health concerns. Speaking with your doctor is a good idea so that you know what you are getting into.
What is a Detox Diet?
A detox diet is a diet plan that promises to rid your body of toxins and clean your body overall and or a specific organ. The premise is that you can get rid of toxins and built up waste from processed foods, household chemicals, environmental elements, etc. Along with the toxins, these plans say that your body will be able to better metabolize fats and will release excess fat along with the toxins. Most detox plans that are used as diets and really just fasts where you drink a liquid concoction and/or take pills. Food is very limited and some involve enemas, colon cleaning powders, diet teas or laxatives.
Issues with Detox Diets
- When doing a detox, much of the weight loss experienced is from muscle loss and fluids, rather than fat.
- Fasting for long periods of time without nutrients and vitamins can decrease your metabolism thus leaving you prone to rapid weight gain when your diet goes back to normal, especially if you are not exercising. This is why juice fasts, smoothie fasts, the Daniel fast and eating just fresh fruits and veggies is a better way to “fast” and detox.
- Many times people are advised to take herbs, pills or laxatives without being advised of the long term affects or potential allergic reactions. For example: The epson salt that is taken as a drink on some of these cleanses is not something you should drink for 10 or more days as I’ve seen attested to online. That is not advised per the directions on the label. Long term laxative use can be very dangerous and you risk dehydration, mineral loss, etc.
- Taking in too few calories over a long period of time can cause muscle loss and cause the body to slow the metabolism to conserve energy. The body understands feast and famine and will respond. It doesn’t know that we are trying to lose weight.
- Most people gain the weight right back within days or weeks of stopping the cleansing plan
- Most detox plans are recommended for 3-7 days at the max, but people will do them for 10-30 days.
- Extreme detox diets are not recommended by most doctors or nutritionists. If you were to do one of them, please consult with your doctor first about the risks.
- The body can cleanse itself. Your kidneys, liver and colon don’t need extreme measures to do the work of cleansing your body. However, they do appreciate you eating a clean diet, drinking lots of water and not overloading them with fatty food, processed food, chemicals, sugars, etc. Fatty liver syndrome is on the rise. Liver problems used to be connected to drinking and now they are becoming more tied to poor diet.
- Most of the extreme plans I’ve seen do not have a post-detox healthy eating plan that would help people transition to a healthier lifestyle after doing the cleanse.
If you want to detox, look for plans that are 3-10 days long that involve ingesting fresh fruits, fresh veggies, natural fiber, water and herbal tea. You can eat food and still get detoxing results. Some other detoxing ideas:
- Eliminate coffee and soda.
- Stop smoking.
- Eliminate white sugar, white flour, refined carbs and saturated fats from your diet.
- Seek out household cleansers and personal products that are made naturally or with less chemicals.
- Get your stress under control – Stress creates hormones that slow down detoxing enzymes in your liver.
- Do some research online about supplements and herbs that you are considering taking.
- Drink only water and tea (no sweeteners).
- Get some exercise outdoors and breathe in the fresh air.
- Consider and do some research on juice fasting.
- Consider replacing one or two meals with a green smoothie or a bowl of fresh veggies.
- Try going vegan or vegetarian for a week or two.
Detoxing your body is a great thing to do and there are a lot of healthy ways to do it. I suggest that you take a look at a number of plans and find what works for you. Don’t just focus on losing weight from detoxing, focus on how you can help you body to be as healthy as possible.