The human body is an amazingly efficient machine, but it doesn't take much to throw it out of balance. Much of modern life involves exposure to toxins, whether from processed foods, air pollution, or increasing numbers of chemicals in everything from medication to cosmetics.
If these poisons accumulate in your body, your health will likely suffer in a variety of ways, including by making it harder for your body to maintain a healthy weight. Companies market detox diets as the solution to this problem, claiming they'll make it easier to shed the pounds, but can they?
What are Detox Diets?
The theory is that while your body can cope with natural levels of poisons, the sheer amount involved in modern lifestyles is overwhelming, and they begin to build up in your liver, kidneys, and other organs. A detox diet helps to flush these toxins away, giving your body a fresh start.
As far as weight loss goes, the idea is that a healthier body can process fats, exercise, and have systems that function, all more efficiently.
What Detox Diets Involve
There are many variations on detox diets, but they're all based on a similar set of ideas.
- Eating a drastically reduced range of food, with lots of raw vegetables, but often limited to a few specified types.
- Using food replacements such as smoothies or proprietary drinks.
- Otherwise, drinking only water.
- Taking special supplements that are said to speed up the detox process.
- Undergoing fasting, either for days at a time or set periods each day.
- Some plans involve taking laxatives.
- Occasionally, more extreme measures such as colon cleansing and enemas are recommended.
Does Detox Work for Weight Loss?
There's no doubt that going on a detox diet can help you drop a few pounds. The problem is, the dieter must do so while enduring what amounts to a starvation diet. You may burn some fat to compensate for the loss of incoming calories, but much of the weight loss will be through water and muscle tissue as your body goes into panic famine mode, protecting its fat reserves to see it through an unknown future.
Worse, the lack of energy-giving food will leave you listless and fatigued, often with headaches and nausea, and your metabolic rate will drop as your body tries to deal with the food shortage.
Once your detox period is over, this subdued metabolism will make it more difficult to burn the calories you consume. If you return to your previous eating habits, you'll almost certainly regain all the weight you lost - and more.
As if this wasn't enough, there's no proof that detox diets actively flush toxins from your system. Your body continually does this naturally (unless you have a disorder that requires medical attention) and no extra supplements are needed.
Most experts agree that all detoxing does is put extra stress on your system, while encouraging unsustainable weight loss of the wrong kind. What's more, it can be dangerous for people with diabetes, kidney problems, and several other underlying health issues.
Healthy Detox and Weight Loss
However, trying to reduce body toxins through a healthier diet is an excellent aim. Switching to a diet including fewer processed foods, less fat, and more fresh ingredients will stop the onslaught of toxins so that your body can deal with them as nature intended. And it's also the real route to long-lasting, effective weight loss.