The world we live in isn't exactly good for us. Just walking outside in the sunlight too long can cause skin cancer. There are toxins in the foods we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe.
There's no reason to panic about all the harmful substances in our world. Our bodies are pretty darn good at eliminating toxins from the body.
One great example of natural detoxification is breathing. Yes, your lungs are detoxing your body by expelling carbon dioxide, the gas we produce when we break down food and drink for energy.
Wouldn't it be great to speed up this process? The cleanse diet or detox diet claims to do this while helping you lose weight. Keep reading to find out why their claims aren't true.
What Are the Claims About Cleanse Diets?
True detoxification is the cleansing of the blood. Your body does this naturally in several parts of your body. Your liver is the biggest actor in the process. It takes the main load when it comes to metabolites.
This means your liver eliminates or metabolizes fats, medical chemicals, alcohol, and other things from your bloodstream. This is how alcoholics destroy their liver.
The logic of a cleanse diet goes like this: If I stop putting most anything in my body and only put water or juice into my body, my liver will get rid of *all* toxins and bad fats in my body.
Cleanse diet defenders apply this claim to every part of the body that eliminates toxins. What are the purported benefits of detox?
- Rests the organs
- Stimulates the liver to "drive toxins from the body
- Promotes the elimination of toxins through the liver, intestines, kidneys, and skin
- Improves blood circulation
- Refuels the body with healthy nutrients
- Eliminates bad fats
Detox diets claim to do these incredible things through several methods. Juice fasting is one of the more popular forms of detox diets. Fasting or just restricting your diet to a particular food group is also popular.
Some sell colon cleanses that "clean out" your colon with enemas, laxatives, or colon hydrotherapy (you really don't want to know…). Often these diets are a combination package of some sort. Take a vitamin, juice every day, and avoid certain foods.
Sometimes these diets are marketed as weight loss programs. Some go as far as to claim disease correction.
The good news is that there is a tectonic shift in the entire dieting industry away from "dieting" in general, with a new focus on "wellness" instead. That's why Weight Watchers changed their name and image to "WW," and why wellness apps based on behavioral modification like Noom are all the rage with Millennials.
Anyway, let's get back to why you should think twice before trying to lose weight with a cleanse.
What Actually Happens to Your Body on a Cleanse Diet?
While yes, it's good to lessen the number of toxins in your system (your liver can only regenerate so fast from alcohol intoxication), eliminating all foods except juice or tea won't do much to the toxins already in your system. In fact, too much cleanse dieting could be harmful to your system.
You store water in your muscles. Glycogen helps it stay there and also provides energy to your muscles and organs. When you quit eating entirely, your body uses up the glycogen and your muscles become dehydrated.
You lose weight when you become dehydrated. So, yes, you do lose weight when you do a detox or cleanse. You'll quickly gain that weight back when you start eating again.
Water weight loss is not the same as fat weight loss!
When You Lose Nutrients, You Become Weaker
Your body also uses up good fats, expels fiber, and uses up all your nutrients. If you do go on a juice cleanse, avoid exercise. You will quickly become fatigued and unable to function in life due to lack of calories and nutrients.
The longer you fast, the more your body begins to go into starvation mode. Instead of eliminating fat, it begins to break down muscle. You're weakening your body when you fast for too long or lose weight too fast.
Cleanse Diets: You Lose Fiber
By not eating the actual fruit and just drinking its juice, you lose out on all that fiber. Your gut relies on fiber to keep your bowels healthy and to keep waste moving through.
By going on a cleanse, you're doubling the impact on your gut. Not only will a lack of fiber slow things down, but the dehydration from a lack of glycogen will eventually cause constipation. Fast for long enough and your gut might shut down entirely (you'd have to do this for quite a while for that to happen).
So, a cleanse doesn't actually remove toxins from your blood and actually hampers your body's natural response to them!
Cleanse Diet Alternative?
Getting your health on track and losing fat off your body is a great goal. While a juice cleanse may not help you get there, other methods exist that don't harm your body.
The thing is, something you only do for seven days isn't going to permanently change your health or your habits. Seeing your weight drop significantly does feel good and you're more likely to continue on a healthy diet if you see results within the first thirty days.
Legitimate and successful diet programs are less about quick fixes and more about long-term change. These tend to be "food resets" rather than complete food elimination programs.
Healthy weight loss is about limiting calories in, increasing calories out, and maintaining healthy eating habits throughout. A cleanse won't get you there.
Instead of buying into cleanse hype for weight loss, try a proven weight loss program. Do a full reboot of your diet.
If It Sounds Too Good To Be True...
Most of the time, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This is particularly true in the dieting world.
Even the most effective dieting plans require a lifestyle change. They just make those changes easier than if you attempted them on your own.
Choose a diet plan and consider the big picture. You'll want to incorporate diet with exercise and possibly a few other lifestyle changes.