You’ve probably heard about several popular detox diets that promise to remove toxins from your body and improve your overall health. You may even be considering a detox diet or cleanse to help you lose weight or jump-start new habits. But do detox diets actually promote weight loss?
The short answer is that yes, you will likely lose weight on a cleanse because you will be significantly reducing your calorie intake. However, detox diets aren’t sustainable for the long term, and many people rapidly gain back any weight they’ve lost on their cleanse once they return to their normal diet.
What Is a Detox or Cleanse for Weight Loss?
The terms detox and cleanse are often used interchangeably. The idea behind cleanses and weight loss is to flush toxins and pollutants out of your body by placing extreme restrictions on your food intake for several days or weeks. Many detoxes involve a period of fasting followed by a period of consuming only fruit juice.
While many people swear by the rejuvenating and weight loss effects of detoxes, proponents of these diets rarely explain what toxins are being targeted or how they are being removed. There has been very little scientific research into the effectiveness of detox diets for promoting weight loss or removing toxins.
Are Detoxes Healthy?
While you may enjoy the immediate gratification of fast weight loss on a cleanse or detox diet, the potential downsides may negate this benefit:
- Lack of essential nutrients—While on a detox diet, you are likely to get an insufficient amount of essential nutrients including fat, and protein. These deficiencies can cause you to feel sluggish, experience food cravings, and make it difficult to build and maintain muscle mass, among other things.
- Intestinal distress—Detox diets can be tough on your gastrointestinal tract. A significant increase in fiber-rich fruit juices can lead to gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
- Limitations on exercise—Exercise should be paired with a healthy diet to promote weight loss, but when you’re doing a detox cleanse, you may not be able to safely exercise without experiencing dizziness and fatigue.
- Building unhealthy habits—While this certainly won’t be true of everyone who goes on a detox diet, some people with addictive tendencies may experience a “high” from this kind of restrictive eating and get locked into a cycle of crash diets.
- The rapid return of water weight—Water is stored in your muscles with glycogen. When you go on a cleanse, your body taps into your glycogen stores, which causes you to lose water weight. The problem with this fast weight loss is that you’ll likely gain the water weight back once you return to your normal diet.
Your Body Performs Its Own Detox
For those wondering if body detoxes are safe, there are some potential safety concerns surrounding detox diets, but for most people, a short-term cleanse won’t have negative long-term health effects. However, there’s no compelling reason to embark on a detox diet since our bodies are already designed to cleanse themselves.
When placed in a balanced, healthy environment, our bodies do a great job of detoxing. The liver, kidneys, lungs, skin, and lymphatic system all break down harmful chemicals through sweat, urine, and bowel movements. Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly can help keep these systems functioning optimally so that you don’t have to worry about harmful chemicals building up in your body.
Healthy Weight Loss Alternatives to Cleanses and Detoxes
Rather than trying a fad cleanse for a few days, focus on building healthy eating habits that you can sustain over your lifetime. Limit your intake of refined sugars and processed foods, and make sure your diet includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and high-quality proteins.
If you need help building a healthy nutrition plan that you can stick to, contact Diet Doc to learn more about our medically-supervised weight loss programs. Our nutritionists and medical weight loss doctors can help you build a comprehensive weight loss plan and provide motivational counseling to help keep you on track.