Is A Detox Diet Safe? Should I lose weight and detox too?
They are all over the internet right now. Detox yourself in 9 days, 30 days or even less. But is a detox a good idea or not? What happens when you undertake one of these plans?
These eating plans are designed to help rid your body of excess toxins. Sold on the idea that you can get a quick fix for the years and years of living your life the way you wanted to. The assumption being that you can right the wrongs of many years in a few days but starving yourself.
Hundreds of different detox diets exist and the foods allowed and banned on each one can vary widely. Some are extreme recommending little more than water for days but generally fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, herbal teas are allowed. Wheat, dairy, meat, fish, eggs, caffeine, alcohol, salt, sugar and processed foods are generally banned or severely restricted.
Detox drinks may also be part of the process and in fact often the process consists of a pack with all that you need in it, making it seem even more attractive.
Do detox diets actually work?
Detox diets can help to eliminate junk food from your diet and encourage some good habits such as eating more fruit and vegetables; drinking more water and cutting down on too much salt, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods. They may also encourage you to think about what you’re eating and can be quite motivating as you take charge of your health.
However...there is almost no evidence to suggest that our bodies actually need help to get rid of waste products as our liver, lungs, kidneys and skin are completely capable of working together to excrete waste and many of these diets are not without their downfalls..
Eating very small amounts of food or cutting out food groups altogether can seriously hinder your ability to take in all the health enhancing, immune boosting nutrients you need. Many detox diets advocate cutting out all foods containing dairy and wheat.
Eliminating dairy foods such as cheese, milk and yogurts from the diet can make it very difficult to consume enough calcium, a mineral that is essential not just for efficient fat burning plus numerous other metabolic functions but also to prevent osteoporosis (brittle bone disease) occurring in later life - a disease that already causes fractures and weak bones in half of all women over 50 years of age.
Eliminating wheat from the diet means that foods such as bread, cereals and pasta that are rich in essential vitamins, minerals and fibre can be wiped out in one fell swoop. Bread
can be a good source of calcium in the diet so cutting this out as well as eliminating dairy foods adds another blow to your calcium intake. B vitamins that help to control hormones and make hair shiny and eyes bright (one of the very things you’re trying to gain from detoxing) plummet, not to mention intakes of folic acid and iron (the nutrient most women are likely to be deficient in) resulting in tiredness, lethargy and anaemia.
Watch out for that sinking feeling....
Very low calorie detox diets or those that recommend cutting out or dramatically cutting back on carbohydrates can leave you feeling tired, drained and low in energy. This in turn can make it very difficult to exercise or maintain any level of regular physical activity. Without carbohydrates, blood sugars fall causing some people to experience nausea, irritability and headaches as well as strong cravings, often for fatty, sugary foods.
Would you like to have an upset stomach, diarrhoea or a headache?
Large intakes of fluids, sudden changes in eating habits and use of laxatives (often recommended on detox diets) can all cause severe diarrhoea which in turn can lead to dehydration and electrolyte loss, again resulting in headaches and sometimes nausea. Conversely, constipation may occur if excess fibre is eaten without also increasing fluid intake. Often you can see the very same people who are using and trying to get you to use a detox diet posting their progress on social networks like facebook and twitter and talking all about the side effects and how they are worth it for the end result
Welcome to your temporary weight loss
The news that may seem the worst to you is that what happens will not last. That weight you lost whilst you starved your body will be back soon and in fact you may put more on to compensate as your body didn’t know what was going on and went into a mode to protect you.
Detox diet weight loss is usually temporary and is largely the result of a loss of lean muscle tissue and water. Very little of the weight that is lost, leads to a reduction in body fat. This is because severe calorie restriction (anything less than approximately 1200 calories a day) sends the body into starvation mode which automatically enhances our ability to store fat and hinders our ability to burn it. Of course you will lose weight when you starve yourself. It’s just that you will be getting it all back once you return to normal.
What about eating disorders and yo-yo dieting?
Strict detox plans can encourage an unhealthy relationship with your food, yo-yo dieting and even a potential eating disorder. Why do people take detoxes? It is often the belief that they are a quick fix solution to long term over-eating and drinking and under-exercising. If your house was falling down would you want a quick fix or a solution that meant your house didn’t end up crumbling brick by brick until it fell to the ground in a heap?
If you want to live a more healthy lifestyle and get fitter whilst losing weight there is no substitute for doing it slowly and safely. Your body can adapt and then the weight loss you experience will last for you and not be some temporary fix that actually makes you feel it was pointless. If you eat well and exercise then you can have the body and life that you really want.
If you would like to read more about my weight loss programme which is all about no more diets then just click on the link to find out more..