Here's a blog post I previously wrote in response to a client inquiry. If you've ever been curious about detox and cleanses, take a read :)
Recently I had a client submit the following question about detox and cleansing diets:
"So, my one question is...do they really work? I've heard good and bad things. If so, do you recommend any type or brand? Thanks again!"
I thought this would be a good topic to post as others may be wondering the very same thing.
Before I was a Certified Personal Trainer I tried a detox and cleansing diet because it was popular at the time and many people were talking about it. I only lasted a few days into the diet each time and stopped due to a few reasons:
I enjoy eating!
My body can’t handle the lack of fuel as it’s used to being fed often.
The lack of fuel leaves me with very little energy for fitness and strength training, which is very important to me.
Based upon this personal experience, and from what I know through other experts, detox and cleansing diets are not a great idea, especially if you are strength training or in a fitness program. Why?
Our bodies get energy from the food we eat (healthy carbs, protein, fats, etc.). Using a detox and cleansing diet doesn’t provide the body with much to draw fuel from for exercise and daily activities. The body starts breaking down muscle for fuel and that's not what we want while trying to get in shape and becoming healthy and fit. The body needs muscle, and the more muscle we have, the more calories we burn throughout the day.
Going long periods of time without proper nutrition and hydration (fasting) leads the body to hold onto fat as it doesn't know when it's going to be fed next. This is why it's important to eat small meals/snacks throughout the day. When the body holds onto fat, it causes an increase in body fat percentage. Not what we want!
Even though the numbers (pounds) on the scale decrease during a detox and cleansing diet, it’s due to a loss of water and muscle mass versus fat mass. For most people, the desire to use a detox and cleansing diet is to rid the body of “toxins” and to lose weight, specifically fat, but the opposite actually happens. With very little fuel for the body, lean muscle mass decreases and body fat increases. This leads the scale to show a decrease in weight, which is actually misleading.
Weight lost during a detox and cleansing diet is usually regained quickly because previous nutrition habits go back into place.
My personal friend and author of The Female Body Breakthrough, Rachel Cosgrove, says:
"One of the fit female credos from my best selling book, The Female Body Breakthrough is - Fuel Your Body To Be Fabulous! Doing a fast does not follow this credo. The problem with a fast is that it has to end and because you have been so extreme for however long the fast lasted usually you will end up having a hard time easing off of the fast and back to a normal balanced healthy diet. Physiologically you'll start to crave. I have found that clients do much better if we "detox" them from junk food, sugar and some of the foods that most cleanses or detoxes eliminate but continue to fuel their bodies with the healthy food to be fabulous!"
With all this in mind, I don’t recommend a detox or cleansing diet unless a doctor recommends it for medical purposes...or until the day one emerges that allows healthy food consumption and still rid the body of toxins. Instead, the following nutrition tips will help you head down the path of proper nutrition and healthy change!
First food consumption should be within 15 minutes of waking up everyday.
Eat every 2 to 4 hours to maintain ideal metabolism levels. Ideally 5 to 6 small meals a day (i.e. 3 meals plus 2 to 3 snacks/day).
Drink lots of water. My personal friend and Registered Dietician, Jamie Leff, recommends the following formula for daily water consumption. “Take your body weight and divide in half…that's how many ounces of water you should drink a day on top of what you drink while you exercise.”
Replace your glycogen levels within 10 to 15 minutes after exercise. This is the best way for muscles to repair the micro tears within themselves caused by exercise.
Now it’s time to “Live Feeling Fitnessly-Fulfilled!”
Heather Binns, CPT
Rachel Cosgrove: Co-Owner of Results Fitness and author of The Female Body Breakthrough; www.rachelcosgrove.com
Jamie Leff: Registered Dietician; www.JamieLeffNutrition.com
Another Article About Detox and Cleansing Diets:
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER): Do Detox Diets Offer Any Health Benefits?