Five Reasons Why Detox Diets Are Terrible For Weight Loss

5 Reasons You Need to Detox and 5 Ways to Detox, Lose Weight & Feel Great

Five Reasons Why Detox Diets Are Terrible For Weight Loss

Most of us equate a detox with deprivation—or worse. We think hunger, weird food, kale juice and colonics. We might feel better at the end, but is it really worth the pain and suffering? The thing is, you don’t have to suffer.

There’s another kind of detox that’s all about fabulous, delicious food. It’s a new kind of detox that’s a giant jumpstart for your health and a reboot for your metabolism. It’s fun, easy to do and a direct route to feeling fabulous.

It’s what I do with my patients, and you can do it in just 10 days.

Over the last 20 years, I’ve taken care of tens of thousands of patients who suffered from the harmful effects of the wrong foods: industrial, factory-made science projects, boatloads of sugar and flour—152 pounds of sugar and 146 pounds of flour per person per year, to be exact! It’s done more than make them struggle with weight and yo-yo diets. It’s completely derailed their health. Worse, they blame themselves for not being able to succeed at controlling their eating habits or cravings.

Millions of us, over half the population, suffer from FLC Syndrome. That’s when you Feel Crap. Sometimes it’s annoying little symptoms such as achy joints or muscles, brain fog, fatigue, headaches, allergies or gas, or more serious problems such as autoimmune diseases, migraines, asthma, acne, irritable bowel, reflux, arthritis or worse.

When I use the word “detox” I mean a scientifically designed medical detox from sugar, and all things that turn to sugar. The fun part is that it’s done simply by taking out the bad stuff and putting in the good stuff…lots of good stuff. Maybe I should call it The Feel Good with Good Stuff plan!

5 Reasons You Need to Detox

1. You have FLC Syndrome: Feel Crap.

You wake up feeling less than vital, vibrant, alive, joyful and full of energy. Even if you are thin but have symptoms of being toxic fatigue, brain fog, achiness, digestive issues, allergies, headaches—really any symptoms at all—the detox can help heal you quickly.

Most of us don’t connect what we’re eating to how we feel. In the 10-day “feel good with good stuff” plan—the program in my new book, The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet—you will learn how you have put up with needless suffering.

Feeling good is only a few days away.

2. You can’t lose weight and keep it off (you want to fit into your jeans).

The scientific establishment has convinced us that losing weight is just a matter of calories in/calories out, that it’s about energy balance, about eating less and exercising more. How’s that working out for you? Probably not so well! Problem is, the scientific establishment is different from the established science.

The science says sugar and flour calories are WAY different. First, they trigger addiction and overeating. Second, they spike insulin and inflammation, which makes you store belly fat and blocks your ability to feel full. The verdict is in: Sugar calories are worse than whole food calories.

Sugar spikes insulin and triggers inflammation, a double whammy guaranteed to mess up any attempt at long-term weight loss.

3. You can’t control your sugar and carb cravings (you may be suffering from food addiction).

The fact is that sugar and flour are biologically addictive. The science behind it is clear and conclusive. Yet we blame the fat person for being a lazy glutton, which leads to shame and guilt. I am here to tell you it’s not your fault. Your biology has been hijacked by the food industry.

They have done a hostile takeover of your taste buds, brain chemistry, hormones and metabolism.

More than 300 food industry insiders spilled the beans to Michael Moss in his book, Salt, Sugar and Fat, explaining they hire “craving experts” to create the “bliss point” of junk food to create “heavy users” and increase their “stomach share.” Sugar is the new nicotine.

In fact, sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine. If you are trying to use willpower to lose weight you will fail. You have to use science to unhook yourself from the addictive power of sugar, flour and hyper-processed, hyper-palatable food- substances (or “non-food junk” as my friend Dr. Aviva Romm calls it).

4. You never have detoxed.

Most of us have never in our life taken 10 days to put nothing in our bodies but delicious, whole clean food. Just 10 days. Even if you think you are healthy and feel good, you may not realize that your normal state is not your optimal state. Think of it as a tune-up, a super-quick, super-easy way to supercharge your health.

5. You need a STAYCATION.

All of us stray from living in a way that supports our health: too little sleep, too little exercise, too much bad food, too much stress, not enough time for ourselves. The best way to reset your life is a 10-day detox. Simple, delicious foods.

No toxins or drugs, by which I mean sugar, flour, processed foods, caffeine or alcohol. Self-nurturing practices: deep breathing, sleeping 7-8 hours a night, a little exercise, self-love.

All this works to get your body and mind back to their original factory settings—and quickly!

5 Ways to Detox, Lose Weight & Feel Great

So now that you know why you need a detox, how do you do it without pain and suffering? How do you take a shortcut to feeling great? Here’s a little secret that the diet and food industry, the medical establishment and Big Pharma don’t want you to know: Most of us are only a few days away from health and happiness. Even if you have a really bad case of FLC Syndrome or even a chronic disease, food is the most powerful medicine on the planet to fix it.

1. Be a turkey (a cold one) and take a drug holiday.

There is no way to handle a true physiological addiction except to stop it completely. Addicts can’t have just one line of cocaine or just one drink. Go cold turkey. But you won’t have to white-knuckle it because if you follow “5 Ways to Detox” you will automatically reset your body’s neurotransmitters and hormones.

Stop all forms of sugar, all flour products and all artificial sweeteners. They all cause increased cravings and slow metabolism, and lead to fat storage. This especially includes liquid sugar calories—a latte can have more sugar than a can of soda—that makes you eat more all day and drive storage of belly fat.

Also get rid of anything with trans or hydrogenated fats and MSG (watch for hidden names). Ideally, for 10 days you avoid any foods that come in a box, package or can or have a label, and stick to real, whole, fresh food. And the best way to really detox is to give up all grains for 10 days. Give up all drugs, too.

Caffeine and alcohol are the two biggest after sugar.

2. Power up the day with protein.

Protein, protein, protein at every meal, especially breakfast, is the key to balancing blood sugar and insulin and cutting cravings. Start the day with whole farm eggs or a protein shake. I recommend my Whole Food Protein Shake. Use nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, chicken or grass-fed meat for protein at every meal. A serving size is 4-6 ounces or the size of your palm.

3. Eat unlimited carbs (the right ones).

Yes, that’s right. Unlimited carbs. Did you know that vegetables are carbs? And you get to eat as much as you want. Unlimited refills! There is one catch.

I only mean the non-starchy veggies such as greens, the broccoli family (including cauliflower, kale and collards), asparagus, green beans, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, tomatoes, fennel, eggplant, artichokes, peppers, etc.

What’s out are potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash and beets—just for 10 days. Also skip grains and beans for 10 days. It supercharges the results so you lose weight and feel great.

4. Fight sugar with fat.

Fat is not a four-letter word. Fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does. Fat makes you full, balances your blood sugar and is necessary for fueling your cells. Along with protein, have good fats at every meal and snack including nuts and seeds, which also contain protein, extra virgin olive oil, coconut butter, avocados and omega-3 fats from fish.

5. Use friend power, not willpower.

Extraordinary new research shows that obesity is contagious. You are more ly to be overweight if your friends are overweight than if your parents or siblings are overweight. But health is contagious too.

In a large social experiment I did with my friend Rick Warren at Saddleback Church we got 15,000 people to lose 250,000 pounds in a year by doing the program together. They met in small groups, helped, loved and supported each other. And those who did it together lost twice as much weight and got twice as healthy.

I call it the Love Diet! Every “body” needs a “buddy.” Find a friend or form a small group and do the detox together.

All of these ideas and more—plus a goof-proof, step-by-step plan of how to make them work for you—are in my new book. If you’re inspired to detox, end your food addiction and your sugar and carb cravings, and renew and reboot your health, check out my #1 bestselling book The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet!. Plus get these great bonus gifts right away to jumpstart your program:

  • In the Kitchen with Dr. Mark Hyman – in this 3-part online video series, Dr. Hyman teaches you how to cook amazingly delicious healing foods quickly.
  • The Missing Ingredient Report – Why we get stuck and how we can sustain our weight loss goals
  • Dieting 101Guide – Dr. Hyman reviews the top 10 weight loss programs to share what works and what doesn’t and WHY?


Detox Diets: Do They Work? Are They Healthy?

Five Reasons Why Detox Diets Are Terrible For Weight Loss

They're popular, but they aren't proven to do what they say they'll do: flush toxins your system. In fact, they may be risky and even backfire.

Still thinking about it? You should know this first.

That depends on the particular detox diet you're following. There are many of them. Some involve fasting, or just drinking liquids. Others allow some foods, fruits and vegetables. They typically are short diets — they're not a way of eating you can stick with in the long run.

You'll be hungry and may feel weak. Whether or not a detox diet is safe depends on the plan and how long you stay on it.

Most people don’t feel good on low-calorie, nutrient-poor diets. Potential side effects include low energy, low blood sugar, muscle aches, fatigue, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, and nausea.

If the idea of detoxing appeals, you might try “clean” eating that focuses on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein — basically, whole foods without a lot of processing. That's good for you and more ly to give you results that last, especially if you make exercise a habit.

Limitations: You're going to go without a lot of the foods you usually eat. Detox diets are typically very rigid and involve eating the same few things over and over.

Cooking and shopping: Depends on the detox plan you're following. Because there's not a lot you're allowed to eat, you won't have a long shopping list and prep work should be minimal.

Packaged foods or meals: Some detox plans recommend herbs, pills, powders, enemas, and other forms of colon cleansing. Methods vary and often include products that are only available from the author’s web site.

In-person meetings? No.

Exercise : Not required, and you may not have the energy for it, because you're not getting that many calories.

Costs: Besides your grocery shopping, a detox diet may also call for some supplements and other products, which vary in cost.

Support: None, except for resources you may find online.

Does It Work?

If your goal is weight loss, a detox diet might help you drop a few pounds, but you’ll ly just gain it back. In the end, you haven’t accomplished anything, and it’s certainly not a healthy approach.

If your goal is to detox your system, don’t waste your time or money. Your body is an expert at getting rid of toxins no matter what you eat.

Toxins don’t build up in your liver, kidneys, or any other part of your body, and you’re not going to get rid of them with the latest detox wonder.

Especially avoid diets that promise to detox your liver with supplements or “cleanse” whatever the diet determines needs washing out.

The only type of detox diet that is worthwhile is one that limits processed, high-fat, and sugary foods, and replaces them with more whole foods  fruits and vegetables. That clean-eating approach is your best bet to getting your body in tip-top shape.

Is It Good for Certain Conditions?

Not only are detox diets not good for people with certain medical conditions, they could be harmful. There is no research showing they improve blood pressure or cholesterol or have a positive effect on the heart. For people with diabetes, they may be quite dangerous. Any diet that severely restricts what you eat could lead to dangerously low blood sugar if you take medicine for diabetes.

The exception would be a detox diet that just focuses on clean eating. This approach could be great for anyone living with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even heart disease. 

The Final Word

We’ve heard a great deal about detox diets in recent years. But it’s all hype with no health benefits. There are many ways to get your body clean and healthy. This isn’t one of them.


Frank Sacks, MD, professor of cardiovascular disease prevention, Harvard School of Public Health.

Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, spokeswoman, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; author, Doctor’s Detox Diet.

Connie Diekman, MEd, RD, nutrition director, Washington University, St. Louis; author, The Everything Mediterranean Diet Book; past president, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.


5 Reasons Why Detox Diets Are A Waste of Time

Five Reasons Why Detox Diets Are Terrible For Weight Loss

Detox diets are nothing new to the health world. You've probably heard Dr. Oz swear by hundreds of them as “miracle” cleansers. Detox diets promise to help people shed weight quickly by cutting out certain groups of food completely. Therefore, the bad toxins are eliminated from the body. 

Even I was enticed to try a detox diet to be healthier. I went on a 10-day sugar detox, and it turned out disastrous on day two when I realized literally EVERYTHING HAS SUGAR IN IT. After that, I thought about how ridiculous detox diets are. Why should anyone give up a food group completely when they could simply be more conscious of what they are eating?

Here are five reasons why I believe detox diets are a waste of time.

1. They are hard to maintain

It's difficult to stick to a certain diet in today's busy world.

When you come home from work exhausted, do you feel exerting more energy to prepare all your ingredients for a healthy meal? Not to mention that you'll be limited to the same foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if you are on a restrictive detox. It's hard to stay completely loyal to a diet without cheating at least once.

2. Most do not work

A popular detox method is juice cleansing, which is an all-liquid diet. Juicing may give your body a few of the nutrients it needs to function, but eating isn't really involved in the process.

Being deprived of physical food takes a toll on emotions. This can cause people to overeat when the detox is done simply because they missed the action of chewing and eating.

Detox diets typically don't work in the long run, which brings me to my next point.

3. Results are only temporary

You survived a few days on your detox… now what? You lost five pounds, but the next battle is learning how to keep that weight off.

It seems the only way to stay at a certain weight is to continue the detox for the rest of your life. After a detox, your body will want to go back its normally scheduled eating program.

When this happens, it is ly that you will gain the weight back. Results are temporary unless people change their eating habits for the future.

4. They can be bad for your health

Detoxes and other diets can make you think that you need to take drastic measures to be fit. However, that is not the case. Your body needs food to function.

It's okay to eat fat, carbs, and other “bad” foods in moderation. Having a box of Juicy Juice or whatever your detox tells you to have is not healthy.

Some people take detox diets to the extreme, which can really destroy the body. 

5. They are expensive

Eating healthy every single second of every single day is very pricey. If you are buying fresh produce and juicing materials, those items cost a lot of money at the grocery store. Especially if you are looking for organic and high-quality ingredients. You can certainly eat healthy all the time, but it will most ly cost you.

I'm not saying all detoxes are terrible, but I do think the best way to be healthy is to eat smart and exercise. As always, consult your doctor first if you do want to detox, and if you decide against it, go ahead and treat yourself to a donut because at least you thought about being healthy, right?


Whats the Deal with Detox Diets

Five Reasons Why Detox Diets Are Terrible For Weight Loss


It seems everyone is talking about “detox” or considering a “cleanse.” Detox diets often are misunderstood — especially since your body already comes equipped with a detoxification system. Understanding how detox works may help clear up some confusion.

How the Body Naturally Detoxifies

Detoxification is a process that the body performs around the clock utilizing important nutrients from the diet. It's the process that transforms toxins so they can be removed from the body.

They fall into two main categories: toxins that are made in the body during regular metabolism, and those that come from outside the body and are introduced by eating, drinking, breathing or are absorbed through the skin.

Toxins that are produced in the body include lactic acid, urea and waste products from microbes in the gut. External toxins may include pesticides, mercury in seafood, lead from car exhaust and air pollution, chemicals in tobacco products and drugs or alcohol.

Detoxification also us the process by which medications are metabolized and removed from the body. Because toxins are potentially dangerous to human health, they need to be transformed and excreted through urine, feces, respiration or sweat.

Each person's ability to detoxify varies and is influenced by environment, diet, lifestyle, health status and genetic factors, suggesting some people may require more detoxification support than others.

But if the amount of toxins to which a person is exposed exceeds his or her body's ability to excrete them, the toxins may be stored in fat cells, soft tissue and bone, negatively affecting health. This is the rationale behind the use of practices that support the body's own detoxification capabilities, but more research is needed.

Most detoxification programs recommend removing highly processed foods and foods to which some people are sensitive, such as dairy, gluten, eggs, peanuts and red meat.

They also recommend eating mostly organically grown vegetables, fruit, whole non-glutenous grains, nuts, seeds and lean protein. Other programs recommend fasting, a potentially risky practice for some people, which may actually suppress detoxification pathways in the body.

This is why many health practitioners advise against this practice.
Many noncredentialed people claim to be experts in detoxification; however, there is a lack of research at this time to support its use.

Plus, detoxification programs can vary widely and may pose a risk for some people (such as people with health problems, those with eating disorders, those who take multiple medications, and pregnant or breast-feeding women).

8 Ways to Support Your Body's Natural Detox

Detoxification support doesn't need to consist of a rigorous plan; doing some or all of the following can support your body's natural detoxification:

  • Stay hydrated with clean water.
  • Eat five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
  • Consume dietary fiber each day from vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and whole grains to help maintain bowel regularity.
  • Include cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli and Brussels sprouts, berries, artichokes, garlic, onions, leeks and green tea. These support detoxification pathways.
  • Consume adequate amounts of lean protein, which is critical to maintaining optimum levels of glutathione, the body's master detoxification enzyme.
  • Consider taking a multivitamin/multimineral to fill any gaps in a healthy diet, since certain vitamins and minerals enable the body's detoxification processes to function.

Eat naturally fermented foods such as kefir, yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut — or take a high-quality probiotic — to help promote a healthy gut.

If you have questions about your eating style and its role in supporting the body’s detoxification, check in with a registered dietitian nutritionist trained in integrative and functional nutrition. RDNs can provide sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs.


Five Reasons Why Detox Diets Are Terrible For Weight Loss

Five Reasons Why Detox Diets Are Terrible For Weight Loss

We all know the feeling: waking up the morning after the night before.

Or the morning after the weekend before! Perhaps you drank too much, ate too much or had a little more of something that disagrees with you than you should have.

For many people, it’s at this moment – or when they face the mirror, or get on the bathroom scale, or struggle to buckle their belt – that they start thinking about a diet.

Most people want quick results: you feel bad now and want to feel better asap. But while quick-fix diets – whether they’re called a “detox”, a “cleanse”, a “metabolic reset” or any other attention-grabbing name – promise instant results, they never work for long. Even worse, they’ll make you fatter and unhappier in the long run.

How do I lose – or gain – weight?

Before we get to why quick-fix diets are so dangerous it’s important to understand how we gain and lose weight. In theory, weight loss is simple. Essentially, it’s the Energy Balance Equation, which says that to lose weight you must consume less energy – ie fewer calories from food – than you burn.

We expend energy through simply being alive (our bodies burn calories at rest to keep us alive, at what’s known as the basal metabolic rate or BMR), and also through everyday activities, exercise and excretion.

Over time if we eat fewer calories than we burn, we lose weight; if we eat more calories than we burn, we gain weight. This concept is important because it’s how all diets work.

It doesn’t matter if you’re only eating “superfoods”, having one meal a day or ten, or eating while standing on your head (don’t do that) – you’ll lose weight only if you consume less energy than you expend.

But that doesn’t mean all diets are equally effective in helping you lose weight, or improving your health and happiness! Read on to discover why “detox diets” not only don’t work, but are actually bad for both your body and your brain.

1. You mess up your fluid balance

Many quick-fix or fad diets “work” at first because when you start restricting your food intake or cut out certain nutrients to reduce your daily calorie consumption, you will lose weight. But the problem is that it’s not fat that you’ve lost – it’s water. And that’s the last thing you want to happen.

This is one reason detox diets are so incredibly dangerous. They can negatively affect your body’s fluid and salt (better known as electrolyte) balance, which means you can lose a lot of water and salts very quickly. Disrupting fluid and electrolyte balance will result in dehydration, which will make you look, feel and perform far worse than normal.

Take things too far and these dangers become much more serious because your body depends on fluid and electrolyte balance for maintaining the rhythm of your heart, as well as many other important functions.

So if you’re ever tempted to try one of those so-called “detox diets”, remember that you might see a lower number on the bathroom scale after a few days but what you’ve lost is not that body fat you really want to shift – rather it’s something your body needs to hold on to. Losing that water weight is ly to make you feel tired, dehydrated and miserable – and that’s about as far from living a healthier and happier life as you can be.

2. You starve your body of nutrients

Almost all quick-fix diets are severely restricting your daily calorie intake by cutting out specific types of foods or eliminating food groups entirely.

This means that these diets are not providing some, or even many, of the essential nutrients your body needs to function at its best – whether that’s fats, protein or vitamins and minerals. So they will dramatically affect how “healthy” you look and feel.

You may suffer physical signs, such as dry, pale or dull skin, aching joints and muscles, feelings of lethargy and weakness, or trouble falling and staying asleep, as well as a wide range of mental symptoms, not limited to constant hunger, low energy and fatigue, bad moods, and dire levels of focus, motivation and concentration.

There’s a good chance that all you will think about is food and your next meal, not to mention that pit-of-your-stomach disappointment about what that next meal is going to be!

This will make you feel absolutely awful in the short term and cause you to question whether all these negative side effects are worth it. (They’re not.) But it has an even more serious impact on your long-term health, fitness and general well-being.

3. Your metabolism slows down

Your body’s job, evolutionarily speaking, is to stop you starving to death – a very real risk for all humans until relatively recently. So your body pays very close attention to how much you’re eating.

When you suddenly start eating less, your body makes adjustments to prevent starvation.

Your metabolism slows down to conserve energy; your digestive tract moves food through more slowly to extract as much energy and as many nutrients as possible (which can cause digestive issues, such as bloating or constipation); your repair and recovery processes slow down so you don’t heal as fast; and there’s a reduced production of important hormones, including the primary sex hormones testosterone, oestrogen and progesterone.

But it’s the slowing of the metabolism that causes the biggest problem.

When your metabolism slows, your body decides you need even less energy to survive, which means you must further reduce your calorie intake from food to get into that calorie deficit to lose weight! This creates a cycle in which, over time, your body requires fewer and fewer calories to function, making it harder to lose weight even when you’re eating far less than before. This is really bad for your weight loss ambition.

4. Your appetite roars back

Have you ever wondered what makes you feel hungry? Or full?

Appetite is controlled by a series of feedback loops in the digestive system and the brain. There are also sensors in our fat cells that tell our brain how full our fat stores are.

If there’s a lack of food being consumed, these feedback loops and sensors compensate by making you really hungry. The “if you’re standing between me and the fridge I can’t be held responsible for my actions” kind of hungry.

No matter how strong your willpower and motivation, your brain’s “don’t starve” system is always stronger.

Eventually you quit the diet (because it’s unsustainable and you’re miserable) and resume eating normally. But you now need fewer calories than before because of your slower metabolism, so you gain back the weight you lost and more, because your brain is sending all the excess energy to fill up your fat stores in an effort to make sure you don’t “starve” again.

You’ll think about food more often – and hence eat more too. This is a major reason so many people end up yo-yo dieting and gain body fat rather than losing it.

5. You get stuck in a vicious cycle

There are many physiological problems caused by quick-fix diets, but one of the biggest is the damaging habits that they cause people to adopt. Here are some of the worst habits that are forged by quick-fix diets.

  • You learn to either be “on” a diet or “off” it – there is nothing in between
  • You only ever experience a very short period of weight loss “success”, if any
  • You experience long periods of “failure”, and feelings of guilt or frustration that add to your unhappiness
  • You start to develop a damaging relationship with food and think obsessively about eating
  • You forget how to trust your body to know how it’s really feeling, and don’t trust yourself to make smart food choices
  • You end up in one of two equally bad scenarios: either living a life adhering to a very strict set of eating rules, or suffering from a complete loss of control over your diet and your life

For a sustainable and enjoyable approach to food, visit, where you can download your free recipe guide and find out more about The SHIFT56 System book.

This is an extract from The SHIFT56 System, a new book that provides your complete eight-week guide to living a leaner, healthier and happier life. Get your copy from Amazon today.


Are Detox Diets Safe?

Five Reasons Why Detox Diets Are Terrible For Weight Loss

The name sounds reassuring — everyone knows that anything toxic is bad for you. Plus, these diets encourage you to eat natural foods and involve lots of water and veggies — all stuff you know is good for you. You hear about celebrities going on detox diets, and people who go into drug or alcohol rehabs are said to be detoxing. So shouldn't a detox diet be a good bet?

Not really. many other fad diets, detox diets can have harmful side effects, especially for teens.

A toxin is a chemical or poison that is known to have harmful effects on the body. Toxins can come from food or water, from chemicals used to grow or prepare food, and even from the air that we breathe. Our bodies process those toxins through organs the liver and kidneys and eliminate them in the form of sweat, urine, and feces.

Although detox diet theories have not been proven scientifically, the people who support them believe that toxins don't always leave our bodies properly during the elimination of waste. Instead, they think toxins hang around in our digestive, lymph, and gastrointestinal systems as well as in our skin and hair causing problems tiredness, headaches, and nausea.

The basic idea behind detox diets is to temporarily give up certain kinds of foods that are thought to contain toxins. The idea is to purify and purge the body of all the “bad” stuff. But the truth is, the human body is designed to purify itself.

Detox diets vary. Most involve some version of a fast: that is, giving up food for a couple of days and then gradually reintroducing certain foods into the diet.

Many of these diets also encourage people to have colonic irrigation or enemas to “clean out” the colon. (An enema flushes out the rectum and colon using water.

) Others recommend that you take special teas or supplements to help the “purification” process.

There are lots of claims about what a detox diet can do, from preventing and curing disease to giving people more energy or focus. Of course, eating a diet lower in fat and added sugars and higher in fiber can help many people feel healthier.

But people who support detox diets claim that this is because of the elimination of toxins.

There's no scientific proof that these diets help rid the body of toxins faster or that the elimination of toxins will make you a healthier, more energetic person.

What Should You Watch Out For?

Detox diets are supposedly to help “clean out the system” but many people think they will lose weight if they try these diets. Here's the truth:

  • Detox diets are not recommended for teens. Normal teenagers need lots of nutritional goodies — enough calories and protein to support rapid growth and development. So diets that involve fasting and severe restriction of food are not a good idea. Some sports and physical activities require ample food, and fasting does not provide enough fuel to support them. For these reasons, detox diets can be especially risky for teenagers.
  • Detox diets aren't for people with health conditions. They're not recommended for people with diabetes, heart disease, or other chronic medical conditions. Detox diets should be avoided if you are pregnant or have an eating disorder.
  • Detox diets can be addicting. That's because there's a certain feeling that comes from going without food or from having an enema — for some, it's almost the high other people get from nicotine or alcohol. This can become a dangerous addiction that leads to health problems, including serious eating disorders, heart problems, and even death.
  • Detox supplements can have side effects. Many of the supplements used during detox diets are actually laxatives, which are designed to make people go to the bathroom more often, and that can get messy. Laxative supplements are never a good idea because they can cause dehydration, mineral imbalances, and problems with the digestive system.
  • Detox diets don't help people lose fat. People who fast for several days may drop pounds, but most of it will be water and some of it may be muscle. Most people regain the weight they lost soon after completing the program.
  • Detox diets are for short-term purposes only. In addition to causing other health problems, fasting for long periods can slow down a person's metabolism, making it harder to keep the weight off or to lose weight later.

Eat Right and Your Body Does the Rest

Of course, it's a great idea to eat lots of fruits and veggies, get lots of fiber, and drink water. But you also need to make sure you're getting all of the nutrients you need from other foods, including protein (from sources such as lean meats, fish, eggs, and beans) and calcium (from foods low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt).

The human body is designed to purify itself. You can help by eating a variety of healthy foods. If you have questions about detox diets or are concerned about your weight, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD

Date reviewed: September 2015


5 Reasons You Should Never Go on a Juice Cleanse or Detox Diet

Five Reasons Why Detox Diets Are Terrible For Weight Loss

knape/getty images

Thinking about trying a juice cleanse or radical detox to kick off 2016? We don't blame you: The allure of these diets is strong.

Of course you the idea of chimney-sweeping your insides, clearing out all the crap you put in there between Halloween and New Year's. But as attractive as the idea of detoxing is—it's also not smart. Or healthy.

Or supported by literally any science. (Here are 7 of the biggest clean-eating trends we predict for 2016.)

While it's true that drastically reducing your food intake as part of cleanse can have a couple short-term benefits, lowering blood pressure, there are far more reasons not to undertake intense detox diets. Here are the five most compelling.

1. You won't lose weight long-term.
Sure, radical cleanses result in quick weight loss—but the slim down won't last. “Anyone can follow a restrictive diet or cleanse for a certain period of time.

Unfortunately, data shows us that, when the diet ends, most people gain back everything they lose plus more,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, owner of Nutrition Starring You, LLC. Save your body the roller coaster ride.

2. You'll feel sh*t.
Lost of detox plans—juice cleanses especially—seriously scale back your intake of fat and protein. That's a problem, since those are the two nutrients your body uses to make neurotransmitters, which keep your mood stable. Plus, drastically reducing the number of calories you eat will sap your energy.

MORE: Want to Finally Lose Weight? Stop Doing This.

3. You'll lose muscle.
Another drawback of limiting protein: You'll lose muscle mass (on a weeklong cleanse, it can be as much as 1 pound of muscle mass per day!). “Then, when the weight comes back, it will most ly be gained as fat,” says Harris-Pincus. (Try one of these filling weight loss smoothies instead.)

4. You're not actually detoxing yourself.
Detox diets talk a big game, saying they'll eliminate all manner of toxins from your body. But the truth is that your body doesn't really need assistance in that department. “Our bodies were designed to detox themselves,” says Harris-Pincus.

“Our liver and kidneys already do a great job of removing waste and toxins from our bodies.” How can you actually help your body run optimally? Just eat healthfully, Harris-Pincus says: Add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and lean proteins and limit added sugars and highly processed foods.

5. You'll spend a lot of money for nothing.
Your average 3-day juice cleanse costs around $200. Two. Hundred. Dollars. For three days of “food.” Just think about how many grocery carts' worth of actual sustenance you can get for that amount of money. Don't start 2016 by getting swindled.