Fat Loss Nutrition

Deciding to Detox: Should You Follow the Cleansing Trend?

Deciding to Detox: Should You Follow the Cleansing Trend?

Ask any doctor and they’ll tell you: you can’t actually “cleanse” or “detox” your body. Cleansing and detoxing have to be left to the organs designed for those purposes, like your liver and kidneys. Nothing that you consume can remove so-called “toxins” from your body the way many “detox” drinks claim to.

So why are cleanses and detoxes still so popular? Most people seem to love the idea of “purifying” their bodies… especially when this goal can apparently be achieved with a simple drink or series of juices.

We’ll take a look at some of the most popular detox and cleansing regimens, and see what’s real, what’s nonsense, and what’s just plain unhealthy.

The Lemonade Detox Diet“/ “The Master Cleanse

This one has been around for a long time, and its popularity has ebbed and flowed several times. For about a week–or however long you choose–you consume nothing but water flavored with lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. That’s right: no food at all, just a specially mixed lemonade drink.

The Good: This “detox diet” will certainly result in weight loss. You’re likely to consume no more than 650 calories per day, less than half of what most adults need to maintain their current weight (but this is also a negative, as 650 calories is really low!). You’ll probably look and feel significantly lighter by the time you’re finished with the lemonade detox diet. You’ll also be well hydrated, since you’ll probably guzzle water and lemonade almost constantly.

The Bad: Well… you’re only getting 650 calories per day, and none of them are from solid food. You can probably imagine how hungry you’d be only a few hours into this “detox”! But feeling like you’re starving is nothing compared to the risks involved in dropping this many calories from your diet. Research has shown that extreme diets like this one might actually slow your body’s metabolic rate: when your body feels that it’s starving, it slows everything down to conserve energy and fuel. You might find it more difficult to lose weight after doing a detox like the lemonade diet.

Juice Cleanses

Urban Remedy is certainly not the only source for juice cleanses, although they are one of the best-known! You’ll find juice cleanses available from local shops and other options that can be delivered right to your door. Juice cleanses are very trendy right now, and not only with people who want to lose weight. They’re often touted as detoxes for the whole body, and often appear on blogs focusing on yoga, barre, and other popular workouts.

The Good: Many juice cleanses, especially the more expensive ones, include lots of fruits and vegetables–a wider variety than most of us normally consume. It can’t hurt to add more healthy produce to your diet! And like the lemonade diet, juice cleanses certainly keep you hydrated, many cleanses recommending that you drink 8 glasses of water per day. Most juice cleanses restrict your calories much less than the lemonade diet, while still reducing them enough to drop some weight.

The Bad: Even though some juice cleanses include nut milks and seeds in their juices, most juice cleanses are relatively low in protein. This results in even more hunger than you might expect from an all-liquid diet, and may encourage your body to burn muscle tissue instead of the fat that you’d probably like to target! Long-term, a low-protein all-liquid diet can result in health problems. And finally, these cleanses are expensive. A basic three-day juice cleanse from one of the most popular providers costs almost $225! And that’s before delivery.

Flat Tummy Tea

This tea is marketing at “babes” who want flatter bellies, but are generally already healthy and not overweight. It’s supposed to give you “that Flat Tummy feeling:” presumably meaning no bloat. It also claims to “detoxify your body.” The tea is all natural and doesn’t involve swearing off food or going on a crazy diet. You drink an “AM” tea with breakfast, and a “PM” tea before bed. That seems to be it!

The Good: Because this “cleanse” doesn’t involve dropping tons of calories, you’re likely to feel better while doing it than either of the other cleanses we’ve mentioned. The website encourages cleansers to exercise, consume more fiber, eat smaller portions, and limit stress, all of which are healthy practices and probably contribute to less bloating and digestive issues.

The Bad: Like we said before, nothing can “detoxify” your body, so that claim doesn’t really stick. Most of the ingredients in this tea are mild laxatives and diuretics… which means that you might see weight dropping off on the scale, but it’s not necessarily fat! It could easily be waste and water alone. These effects might also cause dehydration if you don’t keep up with your water intake. In short, women who see positive progress while using this tea are likely seeing results from decreasing their portions and working out, not simply from drinking their tea.

Raw Food Diets

There are lots of different specific plans for raw food diets, detoxes, and cleanses. Some of them recommend a “detox period” of a week or two, while others recommend a total lifestyle change, switching to raw foods only forever. Most of these diets are also vegan, since there are few animal products that can be consumed without cooking or processing. These diets aren’t just about weight loss, either: many of them claim to reverse and/or prevent diseases like cancer. There are some really big claims associated with raw food diets!

The Good: Like juice cleanses, raw food cleanses will probably get more fruits and vegetables into your diet than usual, which is certainly good for your health. Technically a raw food diet is more limited than a regular diet, but this can actually force you to explore new food items instead of sticking to your comfort zone. It’s unlikely that eating raw-only for a few days will harm you, and it will probably cause you to lose some weight.

The Bad: However, going raw permanently can pose some issues for your health. Most of the beliefs raw food promoters hold are false, such as that cooking destroys the nutrients in food, or that raw foods are “cleansing.” Long-term, you may struggle to get the nutrients that your body needs from a raw diet, especially vitamins like B6 and B12, and omega-3 fatty acids, which you usually get from cooked foods and animal products. Humans are simply not designed to survive on a raw vegan diet!

Let’s Wrap It Up

These four detoxes and cleanses are just a small sample of the options you’ll see with a quick Google search. There are hundreds of supposed “detox” diets and drinks out there… and none of them are backed up by science and medicine as far as their claims about purification and cleansing. If you’re looking for a magic bullet that will make the weight melt away and the “toxins” disappear, you’re fresh out of luck.

But if you’re looking for a worthwhile drink that helps support weight loss, look no farther than IdealBoost. This convenient powdered drink mix shakes up in a water bottle in seconds, and makes your water taste amazing while adding only 5 calories to your daily diet. Even better, IdealBoost contains caffeine and green tea extract to lift your energy and your spirits mid-morning or mid-afternoon. And it includes a hunger-blocker to make water the best weapon in your weight loss arsenal! It won’t “detox” your body, but it will give you energy, keep you hydrated, and help you stay on the path towards better health and weight loss.

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Katharine Stevenson

Katharine Stevenson

Writer and expert


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