When trying to get healthy, the word detox has a certain allure to it. It conjures up images of eating clean for a period of time and the fat melting off of your body after the said period. But the question becomes do the weight loss results match the image that you’ve painted in your mind? Well I’m here to answer that today. This is the first in a two-part series on detox diets to answer:
- What they are
- Why they’re popular
- When they’re a good idea
- Why they aren’t always effective, and
- What you can do with this information
My history with detox diets is very short. In fact, I don’t know if you could call it a diet as much as a cleanse. I’ve detoxed twice and it was part of a yoga workshop that was run by my amazing yoga teacher in college and it involved eating only fruit for three days. I could eat as much as I wanted as far as it was fruit.
The goal of my detox was more mental clarity and not weight loss, but the benefits touted by a lot of detox diets today include both of these things and clear skin among many other benefits.
Coming from that limited experience and my nutrition knowledge, I’ll start with the short answer to whether you can lose weight on a detox diet. The answer – it depends.
If you’re after a few kilos falling off and coming right back on, then sure it’ll help you lose weight. But if you’re after the “see ya wouldn’t want to be ya” type of long-term weight loss that most of us are after, then the answer is a resounding NO. Before I get into why you might not find your long term weight loss success with a detox, let’s start with what they are and go from there.
What are Detox Diets?
Detox diets (also called cleanses) are diets that claim to help your body clear out toxins. They’re usually very restrictive and focus on eating a lot of one type of food. Examples include juice cleanses, fruit and vegetable only fasts, or even the famed master cleanse (maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice).
Why are Detox Diets So Popular?
Detox diets are popular because they take a lot of the guesswork out of eating. Healthy eating can be hard when you don’t know exactly what should go in a healthy diet, and detox diets fill this void by giving you very clear instructions on what to eat.
Another reason why these diets are so popular is that they come with a promise of results, and they deliver. The fact that you’re eating much lower than the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) (link) of an adult woman will result in weight loss. Unfortunately, since you go back to old habits after the detox is over, these results don’t usually last that long.
When are they a Good Idea?
There are three instances when I consider detoxes to be a good idea:
When Recommended by Your Healthcare Provider
I am yet to meet a doctor who thinks that your body’s natural detoxification system isn’t up to doing it’s job, but I’m yet to meet every doctor in the world yet. The reason why it’s a good idea in this instance is because you’ll be doing it under the watchful eye of someone who recommends it/is on board with your choice, who knows your health history, and who knows the benefits that you both are expecting to get.
When It’s from a Reputable Source
A detox that’s being run by a Registered Dietitian is more likely to respect things like your body’s metabolism and making sure the food recommendations are in line with good nutrition practices. An RD is qualified and empowered by law in most countries to provide prescriptive care using food. These people have not only been educated in nutrition, but they’ve also practiced in hospitals to get their credential, so they have some experience with using food as medicine.
When You’re Realistic about the Results You’ll Get
If your goal for the detox is just to give you an excuse to rid your kitchen of all the unhealthy foods you’ve been eating and you have no intention of restocking them, then you’re good. But if you go into a detox expecting to lose weight and do it for good, then you might find yourself disappointed when the weight you lose comes back. It’s not inevitable, and I provide actions to take to avoid regaining the weight, but it’s very likely.
Over to You
If you’re thinking of doing a detox diet, I want you to act today by asking yourself the following questions:
- Are you expecting a magic pill or do you understand that this will be a jump start that’ll require continued effort?
- If you’re looking for a jumpstart, what reputable resources will you find to help you do it right?
Talk to your doctor and check out those links to talk to a dietitian about a detox.
If you’re still on the fence about detoxes, then tune back in next time when I talk about why you might be onto something and what you can choose to do next. See you soon…
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Charlieaja