Lose weight, gain energy and flush toxins out of your body in just a few days. Sounds good, right? Cleanse diets, or detoxes, claim to provide all these benefits and more. And after several weeks of eating holiday treats, a New Year cleanse may seem like just the remedy you need to feel good.
But before you jump on the latest detox bandwagon, you should learn the facts about how these diets work and if they're effective over the long term.
Previously referred to as a detox diet, a cleanse diet purportedly helps reset your body by clearing your intestines and colon of trapped waste and toxins. Most cleanse diets consist largely of liquid calories. Any additional food is primarily made up of fruits and vegetables. Whether you’re doing the lemonade diet, a juice cleanse or the cabbage soup diet, all fad diets use the same method to help you lose weight: severe calorie cutting or fasting.
While you might think that a cleanse diet can help jumpstart a healthier lifestyle, there is no evidence that cleanse diets provide any sort of benefit. In fact, during the cleanse you're likely to feel tired, moody and achy.
Fasting, or strict calorie restriction, may help you shed a couple of pounds by flushing excess fluids and waste from your system. But once you start eating normally again, you're likely to overeat and gain more weight. Also, being on an extremely low-calorie diet sends your body into starvation mode – where your metabolism slows and stores fat for later use. That’s another reason why you're likely to gain weight after you return to your regular eating habits.
Any increased energy or mental clarity you experience is probably the result of removing processed foods, and excess sugars and fats from your diet – a move that definitely improves your overall health and should be a part of a long-term lifestyle change.
Implementing healthier habits is the most effective way to lose weight and have more energy. But what about all those toxins that are building up? Doing a cleanse diet or fasting isn't necessary for good health. Your body has its own self-cleaning system that is incredibly effective at removing toxins.
You have three internal organs that were made to remove toxins from your body: the liver, kidneys and colon. Your kidneys and liver filter your blood and sort out the waste and toxins to be disposed of through urine and feces.
The colon, or large intestine, removes water and nutrients from food during the digestive process. Good bacteria line its walls. They help process nutrients and maintain an environment that protects against intestinal infection as waste moves through and passes out of the body.
Instead of searching for a short cut to achieve lasting health, focus on making lifestyle changes that have proven benefits, such as:
These seven tips for cleaning up your diet can help you, too. For a personalized, healthy eating plan, you can meet one-on-one with our dietitians in nutritional counseling. They can provide practical tips for meal planning, grocery shopping, dining out and more, so you can start implementing healthy habits and feeling lighter and leaner for the long run.