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Drop the Weight with EJ: Do Detox Diets Really Help You Lose Weight? (Part II)

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Last time, I shared some information with on why detox diets are so popular and when they might be a good idea. If you wondering what my position on detoxes, I DON’T think they’re a good idea especially when you’re trying to lose weight and keep it off.

If you’ve already done a detox without success, you might be wondering why you still haven’t dropped the weight long term, and that’s what I’m here to answer today.

So why aren’t detox diets effective?

There are four reasons why I think detoxes are NOT a good idea if you’re looking for effective weight loss and I’ve broken them down below.

You Can’t Unlearn Bad Habits in a Day (or Ten)
It doesn’t take 3 days or 4 weeks to gain the amount of weight that you’re trying to lose. It takes months or even years and the habits that got you to the state where you want to lose that weight can’t be unlearned in the space of 3 days or 4 weeks.

Long-term weight loss takes time because it requires a combination of introspection to identify the habits that got you where you are in the first place with actual action to lose the bad habits for good. It also involves adding in healthier habits that’ll help you keep off all the weight you lose. And this process can’t be achieved in a short space of time.

The allure of the detox diets is that it gives you a jumpstart in the sense that you do start to lose weight quickly, but what happens after that? What do you do when you’ve had the last drop of juice on the juice detox? Do you go back to eating in your old ways or is there a plan for how to eat healthy to sustain the results and carry on to even better results in the future?

This brings me to my next point.

You Don’t Learn How to Eat for Long Term Sustainable Weight Loss
Lasting healthy eating habits take time to learn. You have to learn to discern the difference between healthy vs unhealthy foods like whole grains vs refined grains or what portion sizes are best to initiate and maintain fat loss. Detox diets can take up so much mental space trying to survive the period that it’ll be a miracle if you can take time out during that period to learn how to eat healthy after the detox is over.

In my case, I wasn’t detoxing for weight loss, but I was almost useless in my daily life. It got bad enough that my boss at the time actually noticed that my mood was not its usual cheery self and offered me a peppermint to stabilize my blood sugar. Now imagine trying to learn how to put together a healthy plate in the middle of that mental haze.

Yes, if it’s a good one, the detox will come with instructions on what to eat during the period. And if it’s a high quality program, it’ll come with instructions on how to transition back to normal life. But I find that even the transitions can be a bit too restrictive and they don’t help you understand how your non-negotiable foods can fit into the picture to help you keep your weight loss momentum going without feeling deprived.

There’s Not Much Room for Exercise
Losing weight and keeping it off can be achieved with diet alone, but combining diet with exercise usually results in more lasting results. In my experience and from my research, the food you’ll eat on a detox diet barely gives you the energy to function and it probably doesn’t allow for enough energy to engage in any physical activity outside of your daily life.

Lasting weight loss is about habit and any program that doesn’t give you a balanced approach to losing weight using two of the three cornerstone habits – diet and exercise, where healthy behaviors/habits are the third – is doing you a disservice.

The Weight You Lose Might Come Right Back On…
Most detox diets usually result in a lot of weight lost in a short amount of time. But the problem with losing weight this way is that majority of it is water weight and the rest of it is in an unacceptable ratio of muscle and fat.

Your body thrives when you have a reasonable amount of lean muscle, but muscle needs to be maintained. You can’t just build muscle, dust your hands off, and call it a job finished. You have to continue to work out to maintain that muscle.

The reason this is the case is that your body is built to be efficient, and muscle is more metabolically active – it burns 3X more calories than fat. Since your evolutionary imperative is to survive and reproduce, your body will show a preference to holding on to fat when it senses that you’re not eating enough. And since you probably won’t be eating a balanced diet that has enough calories during a detox, you’re going to lose more muscle than fat.

So while you might be lighter when you’re done, you’ve cost yourself one of your allies in the fat loss battle i.e. muscle. Also if you don’t resume a strength regimen afterwards to build muscle, you’re likely to regain fat if you do regain the weight.

Now, it’s not all doom and gloom with detox diets if you insist on going on one. If you insist, you might be one who can:

  • Focus your time on the detox identifying bad eating habits that you need to get rid of
  • Teach yourself how to eat healthier when you get off the detox diet period so that you continue with your progress
  • Incorporate a moderate intensity exercise program and increase the intensity once the detox is over
  • Continue exercising and eating healthy on a consistent basis so that the jump start you got from the detox doesn’t go to waste.
  • If you can resolve to do these as part of your plan, then you have a higher chance of lasting weight loss success.

But if you just want to follow the diet and not worry about what comes after, then you’ll want to reconsider your expectations.

Over to you. What can you do with this tnformation?

If you’ve been considering going on a detox, it’s time to take a hard look at your expectations. Read through the article and ask yourself:

  1. Can you resolve to identify your bad eating habits while on the detox so that you can continue to work to break them afterwards?
  2. Can you resolve to eat learn how to eat healthier so that you get lasting results?
  3. Can you resolve to do some light to moderate exercise during the detox and increase the exercise intensity afterwards?
  4. Can you resolve to continue eating healthy and exercising afterwards?
  5. If your answers to these questions are yes, then have fun. But if you answered no to any of them then you’ll want to tune in in two weeks when I help you map out your own sustainable weight loss plan.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime |  Charlieaja

EJ (Ejiro) is a writer/engineer/mom. She writes about healthy living to help busy professional women lose weight, keep it off—and actually feel amazing.She created a Registered Trademarked System (VAFs®) for healthy eating for weight loss and wrote the book Weight Loss for High Achievers to help busy women lose weight and let go of the idea that the only way to succeed is to diet for the rest of their lives.With EJ's methods, dieting isn't required and neither is spending hours in the gym for meager results.P.S. If you want to get the goal-crushing motivation to reach your weight loss goal, then you'll want to get the first chapter of EJ's book for FREE. Click here to get it now.

2 Comments

  1. Ladybird

    October 28, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    good article!!!! I live a sedentary lifestyle. while I’m not fat, I’m not slim either..so anyway. early this year I wanted to have a slim body for the summer so according to what everyone else was doing … I tried juicing detox with vegetables and fruits( without consuming any solid meals..felt it would be quicker n effective to lose weight ) … after 3 days I felt like a crack addict craving for sugar or any junk food in sight..felt ill n it was an extremely horrible feeling ..not even worth it …so I gave up………unfortunately exercise isnt something i love so..will just watch my calorie intake

  2. KellyWorth

    October 29, 2015 at 12:32 am

    For me detox diets worked well to an extent, when it comes to diets I honestly believe people overthink what needs to be done. Regardless, It is great they plan on becoming healthier either by diet or exercise. I decided to try selfstability.com/paleo-grubs/ and cant say anything bad about it. Like always nothing works unless you do!

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