Are you looking for a quick-fix and easy way to lose weight and improve your health? Then you’ve probably looked into detox diets. We’re here to shed some light on what detox diets promise, and why you shouldn’t always believe the hype.
While detox diets aren’t a new thing, they do seem to be experiencing a surge in popularity. It’s probably no surprise, not when the benefits they offer often feel beyond the reach of many. They promise rapid weight loss and an answer to the many problems people face, including allergies, arthritis, chronic fatigue and poor digestion.
All this, they say, can be achieved by following a series of (often strict) rules that generally involve limiting or removing certain foods from a diet. These are then replaced by juices, smoothies or nutritionally-enhanced water or tea. Why? Because for with detox diets, the reason someone is overweight, feel sluggish or finds themselves bloated, is not their diet but the toxins in their body.
Detox diets claim toxins stop the body digesting food properly and, by removing them, people will lose weight and be transformed. The reality, however, is the quick fixes these diets offer don’t work. And, they aren’t needed. With a well-balanced diet and the right nutrition, the body naturally eliminates toxins by itself. This is without you needing to drink nothing but juice for weeks on end.
Characteristics of a Detox Diet
With so many celebrities and influencers extolling the benefits of one diet or another, it’s sometimes hard to know what a detox diet is. As a rule of thumb, however, detox diets:
- Promise ‘easy’ changes thanks to a specific ingredient or product without having to make any other lifestyle changes.
- Promise rapid weight loss of 2lbs or more a week without exercise.
- Recommend people avoid or severely limit certain food groups.
- Set strict rules for what people can or can’t eat or how they prepare their food.
Detox diets also often tell people they are overweight, or not feeling great, because of a food allergy or intolerance. In reality, however, only 10% of the population of the UK has a food allergy.
Does Detoxing Work?
While it’s easy to see the appeal of detox diets, there is no medical evidence for their working. Why, then, do people continue to jump from diet to diet looking for a quick-fix or miracle ‘cure’? The answer is simple – in the short-term, many people of a detox diet do see significant weight loss.
Much of this loss, however, is water weight or lean body mass. Both of these are easy to put back on. When this happens, people feel deflated and defeated, stop following the diet and return to their old eating habits. As a result, according to organisations such as the British Association of UK Dieticians, detox diets (which they call fad diets), often lead to weight gain long-term.
As well as long-term weight gain, there are other downsides to detox diets. According to the NHS, for example, detox diets can make people ill because they limit food choices and/or calories. This leads to a nutritional imbalance because the body is missing out on vital vitamins and minerals. Similarly, diets that have high levels of protein or fat can raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease.
The Alternative to Detox Diets
In a nutshell, the alternative to a detox diet is eating well and exercising regularly. This way, your body will detox, or get rid of toxins, naturally. We understand, however, that this isn’t always easy, especially given how busy our lives often are. At the same time, it doesn’t need to be hard as long as people follow our five simple rules for good health and nutrition:
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, aiming for between 6 and 8 glasses.
- Avoid processed foods and eat lots of fruit and vegetables, which are a great natural source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Don’t stick to the same fruit and vegetables each day, mix things up and go for lots of colour on the plate.
- Add fibre to a diet through legumes, nuts and seeds. Choose whole-grain foods wherever possible, which helps with digestion.
- Eat probiotic foods to support a healthy gut and promote good bacteria. Other fermented foods also work well, including Kefir, Kombucha and Sauerkraut.
- Take supplements to ensure the body is getting the vitamins and minerals it needs. Key amongst these because they support the natural detoxification of the body are B vitamins, magnesium and amino acids.
Finally, remember, everything in moderation. Some studies, for example, show red wine can be good for the heart, while coffee and tea both contain compounds that can help boost energy. None of these, however, will do the body good if they aren’t consumed wisely.