Trendy detox diets are meant to help your body rid itself of harmful substances. Your metabolism is your calorie-burning system. While certain diets may affect your body's metabolic rate, you cannot "detox" your metabolism; however, low-calorie detox diets may slow it down. If you're considering a detox diet to jump-start your weight loss or give your metabolism a boost, talk to your doctor or dietitian to help you design a plan that meets your goals and needs.
Detox Diet Basics
Most detox diets limit your intake to a type of beverage, such as a sweet and spicy concoction, herbal tea or fresh fruit and vegetable juice. A water fast, also used as a detox diet, is a diet in which you limit your intake to a drink of your choice for a set period of time, usually ranging from three days to several weeks. The thought is that these diets give your digestive system a rest, allowing for a turnover of cells to produce a stronger, healthier system.
While this theory may sound sensible, no evidence supports it, according to a 2008 article published in Today's Dietitian. Additionally, your body naturally excretes toxic substances on a daily basis through your urine, stool and sweat no matter what you eat.
About Your Metabolism
Food and beverages provide your body with energy units called calories.The term "metabolism" refers to the system that utilizes those calories, including the calories needed to run basic body functions such as breathing and maintaining muscle mass; those needed for digestion; and those burned for activities such as making your morning coffee or your 30-minute run on the treadmill. The number of calories your body is able to burn every day depends on your gender, body size, the amount of muscle you have, your daily activities and your genetics. While your body burns 10 calories for every 100 calories consumed, what you eat or drink doesn't have a significant effect on your metabolism.
Detox Diet and Metabolism
Although it's possible to consume enough calories on a juice detox fast, most detox diets are very low in calories. When you limit your calorie intake to extremes -- fewer than 1,200 calories a day for women or 1,800 calories a day for men -- your body burns muscle for fuel. Loss of muscle, which accounts for a large portion of your metabolic rate, means a decrease in metabolism. In essence, a detox diet may actually slow down your metabolism.
A Healthy Detox Diet
If you want to improve your health and your body's ability to rid itself of toxic substances, you need to eat foods that keep your whole body healthy and in good working order, especially those systems that get rid of those toxins. These include not only your digestive system, but also your liver and kidneys. A diet that limits intake of sugar and unhealthy fats, such as saturated fat and trans fat, and increases your consumption of nutrient-rich foods high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, is recommended.
How to Improve Your Metabolism
If you're worried that your metabolism is slow, speed it up with more activity and muscle. A total of 30 or more minutes a day of aerobic exercise is a good way to burn extra calories, especially if you're trying to lose weight. More activity during your day also helps burn more calories, such as taking the stairs, fitting in walk breaks or parking far from entrances. And, because it burns more calories than fat, adding muscle workouts with regular strength-training exercises, such as lifting weights or yoga, twice a week, also gives your metabolism a boost better than any detox diet.