An olive oil cleanse may help you lose weight quickly because it will not provide you with the daily required calories and nutrients. While many proponents proclaim the benefits of an olive oil and lemon juice cleanse, there are few conclusive studies that support the practice as beneficial.
Olive Oil and Lemon Cleanse
According to the Mayo Clinic, an olive oil cleanse is an alternative medicine therapy used to rid the body of gallstones and detoxify the liver. While there is no standard recipe for an olive oil and lemon juice cleanse, most practitioners only consume 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil with a fruit juice, like lemon juice, for two or three days.
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According to the USDA, a tablespoon of olive oil offers 120 calories and 14 grams, or 21 percent of the daily value, of fat. A cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice has just 53.7 calories, 0.85 grams of protein, 0.59 grams of fat and 16.8 grams of carbohydrates.
Consuming a tablespoon or two of olive oil mixed in with 2 cups of lemon juice three times a day may offer approximately 1,042 calories. Still, this is lower than even the recommended intake for individuals leading a sedentary lifestyle. In addition, this diet is very low in nutrients, which may leave you feeling weak and dizzy.
While a lemon juice and olive oil cleanse may help you lose weight quickly, once you stop the cleanse, the weight loss will not likely be long-lasting . And according to a December 2018 review published in the journal Nutrients, cleanses like the olive oil cleanse result not just in loss of fat but also a loss in muscle tissue due to an insufficient caloric intake.
Losing body muscle results in fatigue, neuromuscular function and may even affect an individual's psychological state. This is why the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that reducing the number of calories consumed on a daily basis, while increasing physical activity, is the recommended way to lose weight safely and effectively.
During the olive oil cleanse, most people do not eat anything else, which is not recommended, as it will deprive the body of essential nutrients and decrease the body's metabolism. For adults, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends getting 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day, for women, and 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day, for men — the lower values represent a sedentary lifestyle, and the higher ones represent an active lifestyle.
Read more: How to Do the Cleansing Diet for One Week
Reducing calories while still consuming a diet rich in macronutrients, minerals and vitamins will ensure that the body functions normally. The official recommendation, to steadily lose 1 pound per week, is achieved by reducing your daily caloric intake by 500 to 750 calories. For women, this means following a 1,200 to 1,500 calorie diet, while for men, a 1,500 to 1,800 calorie diet, each day, is suitable for weight loss.
Olive Oil Cleanse Risks
While the claims about cleanses like the olive oil and lemon juice cleanse include weight loss, reduced blood pressure and better insulin levels, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) explains that there are very few high-quality studies supporting them. Studies that do often lack peer review and usually include only a few participants.
The researchers of a December 2015, review published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics concluded that there was no significant scientific research to support the claims that certain "detox" diets, like the olive oil cleanse, purport. For healthy individuals, a detox diet isn't necessary, as the liver already functions as the body's major detoxifying organ.
It's important to consult your doctor before starting any detox or olive oil and lemon juice cleanse. While there may be benefits of drinking olive oil for the skin, and weight loss benefits, the Mayo Clinic explains that cleanses should not be considered a long-term solution.
Consuming olive oil and lemon juice without any other food is not recommended. The NCCIH states that sticking to a liquid cleanse for several days can lead to an electrolyte imbalance, which could sometimes be fatal. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, electrolyte imbalances can affect the body's pH levels and muscle contraction, and may lead to buildup of toxins in cells throughout the body.
- Mayo Clinic: "What Is a Gallbladder Cleanse? Is It an Effective Way to Flush Out Gallstones?"
- World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pharmacology and Therapeutics: “Antioxidants in Liver Health"
- USDA FoodData Central: “Olive Oil"
- USDA FoodData Central: “Lemon Juice, raw”
- Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020”
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "'Detoxes' and 'Cleanses': What You Need To Know"
- Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics: "Detox Diets for Toxin Elimination and Weight Management: A Critical Review of the Evidence”
- Mayo Clinic: “Do Detox Diets Offer Any Health Benefits?"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Fluid and Electrolyte Balance"
- Nutrients: "Body Composition Changes in Weight Loss: Strategies and Supplementation for Maintaining Lean Body Mass, a Brief Review"
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.