The Truth About Detox Diets & Cleanses

Whether you want a 3-day, 7-day, 21-day, 24-day cleanse, there’s a cleanse for just about any time frame you wish. Detoxes and cleanses are short-term and typically involve either some type of herbal remedy or concoction/juice (if you’ve ever heard of the Master Cleanse using lemon cayenne & maple syrup), or supplements that claim to “rid your body of harmful toxins”. These diets usually involve a minimal amount of eating (primarily focusing on liquids) and promise quick weight loss results. People often do a cleanse or detox as a way to feel a sense of control over their currently sporadic eating habits or “start fresh”...

But did you know the body naturally detoxifies itself daily?? The liver and kidneys process toxins and continuously eliminate them through perspiration and waste. The colon’s natural microorganisms detoxify food wastes. In truth, our bodies do not need any extra cleansing!! Colon-cleansing products may actually weaken the immune system by killing off good bacteria that fight off invading germs in your gut.

And of course weight loss will occur when you are severely restricting yourself from eating an adequate amount of calories and nutrients! Contrary to the belief that it is toxins and fat leaving your body, it is nearly all water. The weight loss during a cleanse stems from fluid loss and potentially muscle loss depending on the duration (i.e. the longer the cleanse, the worse for your body). Weight regain is rapid after ending a cleanse, and fasting for too long can significantly slow down your metabolic rate making it even more difficult to keep the weight off. You won't be seeing long-term results from these short-term diets.

The words “detox” and “cleanse” sound like healthy terms. However, both are counterproductive to your overall health. There is no scientific evidence to back up the claims detox and cleanses make.  Instead, these crash diets are a quick, unhealthy way to shed pounds that will quickly be regained post-cleanse.


So what are some of the possible side effects from cleansing?

Increased cravings, rebound overeating, low blood sugar, fatigue, physical weakness, dizziness, muscle loss, dehydration, nausea, and lowered metabolic rate.


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Often times I hear people say “juice cleanses make me feel great, so refreshed and energized”. You don’t need overpriced supplements and bottled juices to feel this way! Homemade smoothies blended with whole fruits and vegetables are much better for you than bottled juices anyway! You will feel even more refreshed and energized by cutting out processed junk from your diet, eating real whole foods, and exercising.


So how can you improve the detoxifying process your body does naturally? Here are the steps to take (no starvation or $100 supplements required):

1.     Quit Smoking

2.     Cut back on Alcohol 

3.     Cut back on Soda

4.     Cut back on Processed Foods (prepackaged foods loaded with sugar & white flour, fast food, etc.)

5.     Drink plenty of water (at least 64 oz./day)

6.     Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and protein (meet with a registered dietitian to help create a personalized meal plan fit for you!) 

7.     Exercise!! Find some type of physical activity that you find enjoyment in and can get you to break a good sweat.

8.     If a weight loss diet sounds too good to be true, (i.e. drop 10 lbs in 10 days!) it definitely is. Don’t fall for gimmicks, and don’t waste your money on questionable products that aren’t backed by any scientific research. Think twice before buying nutritional supplements from someone who is not a registered dietitian. If you are hesitant about a product, always consult a registered dietitian before use. 


photo credit: gwyneth paltrow's - for just $425, you can purchase these pills sold by a celebrity with no education or background in nutrition whatsoever!