Juicing, Detoxing, Cleansing… All of these are good for you right? Wrong!

I have lost count of how many people I’ve met who are “doing a detox to get all the toxins out of their system” or “cleansing to kick start January weight loss.” The good news is that it’s great to see people trying to focus on their health and well-being. The bad news is that they’re actually doing themselves more damage than they think.

What is a Detox?

The idea of a detox, for the purposes of this post, is to clean out the digestive system by sticking to a strict diet. That diet may involve only drinking fruit and/or vegetable juices, herbal teas, and water.

Let’s take a look at what really happens when you detox…

You lose weight… and then you put it back on plus more

Yes, you will see a reduction in your weight, sometimes a dramatic reduction within the first few days, but here’s the problem, that weight loss is not fat loss. By cutting your calories drastically, increasing your fluid intake and almost eliminating protein from your diet, you will definitely lose water weight and some muscle mass too. Not great, because once you “go back to normal,” your ability to burn calories is reduced (muscle mass burns more calories than fat). On a chemical level, when you “crash diet,” your body responds by producing different amounts of hormones called Leptin and Ghrelin. These are the two hormones that tell you when you’re full, and when you’re hungry again. While it might be possible to ignore your hunger for a few days during your detox, you won’t have the same control over your perceived hunger when you go back to eating “normally” again. That would be why there’s a before and after of crash-diet weight loss, but there’s an after-after too, when the weight is back on, along with a few extra pounds too.

You make up for eating badly over Christmas… which reinforces guilt about food

Food is essential. End of story. There is a difference between being able to safely control your nutrition in order to achieve a goal, and being completely unable to control your behaviour around food over a longer period of time. If you are regularly falling into a cycle of punishing yourself for eating something you think you shouldn’t have eaten, and then “eating badly” again, then guess what? You are exhibiting classic signs of an eating disorder. Yup… Click here for help and support if you have concerns about your relationship with food.

You get rid of harmful toxins… the same way you normally do

Yes your body is cleansing itself of those harmful toxins, but guess what? It always has been. Your liver and kidneys are there for that exact purpose, that’s what they do. No amount of juice-cleansing is going to improve your liver’s ability to work. What would help instead, though, is to quit putting so much unnecessary pressure on your organs by eating lots of over-processed food. Make sure your diet is based on real food, have a treat here and there, and you’ll be helping to keep your entire body, and mind, in perfect working order.

You get more sleep… because you don’t have enough energy to stay awake

Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is what tells you how many calories you burn each day, just by functioning normally. We are constantly burning calories, even while we’re sleeping. This means that you need to take in that exact number of calories per day, just to survive and maintain your body exactly how it is right now. If you want to lose weight, you can either reduce your calorie intake, or increase your calorie burning (by moving more!), but you still need to eat enough to maintain your essential body functions, like breathing, your heart rate, and, well, surviving… If your calorie intake is way too low, you’ll be struggling to stay awake through the day.

So… What should you do instead?

Nutrition is simple, eat real food and eat the right amount. What complicates things is choice, emotions, desires, and willpower. Your food plan should keep you feeling full, happy, and rewarded – you should never feel deprived. If you need some help with your nutrition, get in touch for a free consultation, just send me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

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