This time of year, the words detox and cleanse seem to pop up everywhere. They can have many different meanings depending on who is using them. In general, a detox or cleanse is a diet that limits you to eating or drinking only certain foods or supplements, often in the form of a drink or juice, for a certain period of time. Many detox/cleanse diets claim to purify your body by removing toxins and waste that have accumulated over time or to increase your energy and boost your metabolism to promote weight loss. With these promises, it’s not surprising that many people turn to this kind of approach, but the question is, do these diets actually work? Let’s take a closer look at some of the claims.
Eliminating Toxins: Our bodies are designed to effectively eliminate the daily toxins we produce as well as toxic compounds we may be exposed to in our environment. The liver breaks down toxins so they can be excreted by the kidneys. Research using specific foods in clinical practice to aid in detoxification is ongoing. Cruciferous vegetables have been shown to help stimulate this process, however most detox/cleanse diets do not have research to support them.
Increase Your Energy Levels: Many people following detox/cleanse diets will feel an improvement in their energy levels. This is most likely related to the fact that they have eliminated refined carbohydrates and processed foods from their diet. It may also just be the placebo effect- people believe they are doing something good for their bodies and convince themselves that they do feel better.
Boost Your Metabolism to Promote Weight Loss: Many detox/cleanse diets, if not all, severely restrict overall calories. It is also common for them to eliminate complete food groups which makes them pretty unbalanced. One popular plan recommends drinking nothing but water, cayenne pepper, maple syrup and lemon juice which is deficient in most of the vitamins and minerals needed for overall health. With these kinds of restrictions in place people may lose a few pounds, but when you cut calories too drastically you lose muscle mass, your metabolism slows down and when you start eating normally again you’re more likely to gain weight.
Since detox/cleanse diets may not be the best way to go, what can you do?
Real change means developing new habits you can maintain for life. Instead of trying a detox/cleanse, focus on giving your body the right amount of healthy, nutritious fuel it needs. It may take longer to achieve your weight loss goals, but you will have the skills needed to maintain that weight loss! My recommendation is focusing on a whole foods, plant-based diet. Aim for a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans and seeds. Read more about my food philosophy here.
Smoothies are an easy way to get in a few servings of fruit/vegetables. I’ve shared my love for green smoothie bowls before. Still can’t get over that green color? Why not try hiding the spinach with some berries in this berry banana smoothie bowl?
- ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 cup frozen berries
- ½ banana
- chia seeds
- sliced banana
- Combine yogurt, spinach, berries and banana in blender and blend until smooth. Pour into bowl and top with desired toppings.
*If this combination is too thick for your blender, add a small amount of coconut water or milk to help thin it out.