Detox Dieting

What is it? Does it work?

Detox Dieting - What is it? Does it work?
There are 100’s of “detox diets” available these days—some made popular by celebrities who have used them to drop weight quickly. The reality is that if you eat fewer calories and exercise more, you will in fact lose weight. A “detox diet” isn’t necessary for weight loss.

Besides weight loss, detox diets are often used when one is not feeling good emotionally or physically due to following a poor diet and not regularly exercising. A simple diet clean up is the first step to cleansing your system and feeling better long-term. This includes removing foods that maybe causing allergic responses or are full of sugar and processed ingredients and adding foods that are energizing and full of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Despite the lack of scientific research that support “detox diets,” they can provide some benefit. Read on to find out.

What is a detox diet?
Detoxing is based on the concept that your body needs help getting rid of unwanted toxins that have built up in the body from contaminants in the food you eat and from the environment in which you live. It is thought that by riding the body of these toxins, the liver and kidneys will function more optimally and the metabolism will run more efficiently, which will increase energy, and bolster weight loss.

How do you perform a detox?
There are 100’s of different variations on the detox diet. For example, there is the sugar detox, lemonade diet, raw food diet, Master Cleanse and juice fast. Typically, these diets cut out certain foods for a specified length of time. Generally, detox diets do not allow you to eat anything that is processed and/or contains sugar, salt, caffeine or alcohol. Some diets may cut out meat, gluten and dairy as well. The majority of your food during a detox should come from fresh fruits and vegetables. Detox diets can last between five days and two-weeks and will require you to drink at least 3 liters of water per day.

Can you use supplements on a detox diet?
Yes. Many detox diets recommend that you use supplements during the process such as antioxidant vitamins A, C and E. Other herbal ingredients are also often recommended like milk thistle to help cleanse the liver as well as dandelion and uva ursi to increase water loss. Fibers such as psyllium husk are also often utilized to help clean out the intestinal system.

Do detox diets work?
Detox diets can cause weight loss, because many of them are lower in calories. Just like other diets, when you reduce calories, you lose weight. In terms of detoxification, there is no scientific basis that indicates detox diets are needed to “cleanse” the body. The body is designed to remove toxins on its own, from the enzymes in cells to organs like the skin, the lungs, the intestines, the colon, liver and kidneys, the body processes and eliminates toxins that are created internally from diet or from toxic substances that surround us. That said, consistently eating a quality diet that is low in sugar, high in fiber, does not contain processed foods and is full of fruits and vegetables will certainly allow your body to function more optimally.

What are the benefits of detox diets?
Although you may not need to use a detox diet, the one great benefit is that it does require you to take a good look at your own diet and lifestyle. Detox diets can help you to improve your eating habits by becoming more aware of your food selections and the benefits of making changes like consuming more natural whole foods, eliminating processed foods, sugar and salt.

What are the problems with detox diets?
The scientific evidence for detox diets is lacking. Most detox diets are not based on solid science and are not sustainable for long periods of time. Detox diets are unlikely to be harmful for healthy adults, but these should be used only occasionally as a break from your diet or as a way to re-evaluate your current eating plan.

What are the takeaways from detox diets?
Detox diets can be used in moderation to help you to improve your current eating regime. But, if you are following a healthy fit lifestyle, you are probably already using many of the principles of detox dieting. A few quick ways you can improve your diet based on detox diets are to eat clean, whole foods closest to their natural source, drink more water, drink less caffeinated beverages, eat more servings of green vegetables such as leafy dark greens that are high in antioxidants, eliminate processed foods, reduce your sugar intake and eat more fiber!

How to do your own detox?
If you are interested in trying your own detox diet, for two-weeks, focus on drinking plenty at least 3 liters of water daily, eat plenty of whole fruits, fibrous vegetables, root vegetables and lean proteins. A few of the top natural detoxifying foods you should include are green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit, watercress, broccoli sprouts, cabbage, kale, spinach and psylium husks. Determine your calorie intake based on your current needs.

Lauren Jacobsen

Lauren is the creator of Sexy, Strong and Fit Online Coaching Services specializing in transforming women to fitness model condition. Lauren has over 15 years of experience as a trainer, supplement consultant and nutrition expert. She is also the TV show host of "Body Fuel," a competitive athlete and regular contributor to various fitness publications.

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