Detox diets claim to improve your immune system, increase your energy level and help you lose weight. Unfortunately, the most popular detox weight-loss plans, such as the Master Cleanse, the 21-Day Cleanse, the Fat Flush and juice fasts go against scientific research and may have dangerous side effects. A healthy diet plan helps you make gradual changes that support your body’s natural detoxification processes.
Any extreme diet that forces you to limit your calories to fewer than 1,200 or to eliminate full food groups can cause a rapid loss of lean muscle and water weight, according to Rania Batayneh, owner of Essential Nutrition for You in San Francisco. This kind of diet may yield a rapid weight loss, but you typically regain all the weight, plus some, because your metabolism has slowed, and you haven't developed new lifestyle habits.
Detox Diet Dangers
Detox weight-loss plans that require major dietary changes over the course of three days to four weeks can have side effects ranging from nausea to starvation. Dr. David Caruso, a family practitioner at Elk Regional Medical Center in St. Marys, Pennsylvania, says the side effects he has seen include fatigue, vomiting, headaches, malnutrition, dehydration, seizures and coma. While most people do not stay on these extreme diets long enough to have serious side effects, those with eating disorders can run the risk of serious consequences, he says.
Need For Detox Diets
Research has failed to prove or disprove the effectiveness of detox diets. Dr. Caruso says that organs such as the lungs, kidneys and liver have filtration-like systems that remove most dangerous toxins. You secrete the toxins when you exhale, perspire, urinate or have a bowel movement. Batayneh suggests that the best way to detoxify and lose weight involves getting a proper balance of nutrients, limiting calories -- especially those that offer little or no nutrients -- and increasing activity.
Healthy Detox Weight-Loss Plan
Avoid punishing your body with dangerous and extreme detoxification methods that may slow your metabolism, decrease your energy and deplete any nutrient stores you have. Use a detox weight-loss plan that focuses on a balanced diet containing lean protein, healthy carbohydrates and good fats, while limiting your calories. Lean proteins include skinless poultry, fish, legumes, nuts and seeds. Complex carbs such as fresh vegetables, fruit and whole grains are healthy carbs. Sources of good fats include nuts, seeds, olive oil, corn oil, canola oil and avocados. Batayneh emphasizes that you should start incorporating foods that you know are good for you and you enjoy eating. This allows you to make permanent changes to your eating habits, lose weight and keep your detox systems working properly. Start small by analyzing your dietary habits and making changes that you can sustain.
- Rania Batayneh, MPH; Essential Nutrition For You; San Francisco, California
- Dr. David Caruso; Elk Regional Health Center; St. Marys, Pennsylvania