Fad Diets – Detoxes & Cleanses

What it is:

  • The most common detox or cleanse is when a person only drinks a particular mixture of liquids and maybe some spices are added. An example is the lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper cleanse but there are other concoctions. 
  • Other people call a diet of only natural, whole foods a detox or cleanse. I am not referring to this type of diet.

Why people do it:

  • Detoxes and cleanses promise quick weight loss.
  • People believe we must detox in order to rid ourselves of toxins.

Pros:

  • It may inspire you to eat better because you will start to feel better after a day without fried or highly processed foods. 
  • Fasting for a few days may lower blood sugar, improve insulin function, and reduce blood pressure but these results last a few weeks at most.

Cons:

  • This diet only leads to water weight loss. Depending on how long people do this, they’ll lose water weight and then start losing lean tissue mass where muscle breaks down which is only increasing your fat to lean muscle ratio. You will gain the weight back post-cleanse.
  • You may be creating toxins when you go on these detoxes for a very long time. When you’re not eating and you’re taking in very few calories, you start to break down muscle mass, which creates nitrogen compounds that your body has to excrete. After a period of time of not taking in enough calories, the body will make ketones, which are acidic substitutes for fuel that have to be flushed out and neutralized so they don’t potentially cause loss of minerals like calcium from the bones. In reality the cleansing may actually create toxins that the body then has to rid.
  • Initially, when you drastically cut back on calorie intake your body will continue to burn them at the same rate making you feel weak.
  • If you cleanse for too many days you will change the physiology of your body to crave food more which could lead to binging and storing fat more easily. You may lose weight fast initially but once you start to eat again your body will think that it must store anything you eat in case you go through another “famine” period again. 
  • Without the carbs, fat, and protein your body needs to make the neurotransmitters that keep you even-keeled, anticipate some irritability and mood swings.
  • Fruit-heavy fluids can pack a ton of sorbitol, a type of sugar alcohol that pulls water into your intestine, causing a laxative effect, dehydrating you, and giving you diarrhea.

Reality:

  • We have a natural detox system in our body that works very well when treated well. The liver flushes out waste every day, our lungs breathe out pollutants, our kidneys filter out toxins, and our digestive system lets things pass through that we don’t need.

Research:

  • There is no evidence that those detox diets do any kind of detoxification in the body

Bottom Line:

  • Detoxing or cleansing is not a sustainable weight loss technique. You do not need to do anything to help your body rid itself of toxins. The body is essentially a self-cleaning machine.
  • Eating a healthy and nutritious diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables allows your body to function at its best and it is able to “detox” on its own. 

References:

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