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So I am writing this only because I've had an influx of questions around detox/cleanses, which makes sense given summer is right around the corner.  I did not write this to shit on these methods; if it works for you, more power to you.  In fact, I know people that have had great success using cleanses. 

Personally, I am not a fan of these diets but also understand that my nutritional philosophies are not the only ways to get results. 

I don't like detoxes/cleanses because they are 1) extreme 2) short term thinking in nature and 3) based on unsubstantiated scientific principles.  Sounds like my thought process during college.  Here are the details.

But won't I lose weight on a detox? (Extreme)
The short answer is yes, you will lose weight.  To lose weight you must be in a calorie deficit, ie. take in less calories than your body needs to burn for energy.  A cleanse is just disguised as a calorie deficit, albeit an EXTREME calorie deficit.  From the research I did, most detoxes have people consuming anywhere from 500-1,000 calories/day.  That is ridiculous!  

We have something called a basal metabolic rate (BMR) which in a nutshell is the amount of calories our body needs to carry out its everyday processes at rest (think pumping blood throughout the body).  To figure out your BMR, take bodyweight and multiply it by 8 or 9.  For example, I am 190 pounds so my BMR is roughly 1,700 calories.  A cleanse would have me eating significantly less calories than my body needs to FUNCTION PROPERLY.  Just think about that.  This is potentially dangerous and there's just no way you won't feel the effects of your body fighting back if this goes on for more than a few days.  I wouldn't be surprised if someone has dizzy spells and cognitive impairment as a result.  Having a foggy mind is not a good thing if you have something like say, a job.  So, the moral of the story is don't eat below your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) for an extended period of time.  

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But it's only for X days, how bad can it be? (Short term thinking)
And then what?  This would be the equivalent of a CEO taking over a struggling company but having no plan on increasing sales and reducing expenses.  "Sorry guys, I'm just here for the big paycheck."  Fat loss needs to be looked at in the long term.  OK, so you lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks.  Super, I truly am happy for you.  But what's the game plan for the next several years to ensure you don't gain that weight back?  I've seen it too many times- someone loses 20 pounds from an extreme, short duration diet and gains all the weight back, and then some.  What's the point of losing the weight in the first place?

Short term thinking at its finest.  We are too good for this.  It amazes me how well thought out other areas of our lives are but we don't do the same for something as important as our health.

A good question to ask- can I see myself doing this in five years?  If the answer is no, it's probably not going to work.

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But don't I need to cleanse my body from toxins? (Unsubstantiated scientific principles)
Sure.  Toxins are not good for the body and should be eliminated.  Guess what?  You have a built in detox system, mainly your liver and digestive tract, that eliminate these toxins everyday!  Do you really think toxins and junk food residue (as one detox website so eloquently put it) have been hanging out in your body all your life waiting for a juice diet to come along and save it?  If we truly were flush with toxins and poisonous chemicals, we'd all be bed ridden or dead.  Not to get all Bill Nye the Science Guy on you, but here's a quick overview of the phenomenal job our body does to "cleanse" each and every day.  Our liver either burns off hazardous toxins on site or turns them into waste that can be sent out out by doing #1 or #2.  Our digestive tract contains hydrochloric acid (HCL).  Do you know what HCL does to you if you come in contact with it?  It is highly dangerous and can burn the skin on contact.  Yes, we have that in our stomach specifically to break down food during digestion and to eliminate any harmful pathogens contained in the food we just consumed.

We need to give our bodies more credit, they are incredibly powerful machines.

So, doing a detox for it's "cleansing powers" is the equivalent of doing 1,000 biceps curls in a workout because "it will get you jacked bro!"  Complete bro science with no scientific backing.  

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So what do I do?
We don't need extreme calorie deficits to lose weight and we certainly don't need to give up the foods we love to eat.  A more moderate deficit of 500 calorie/day will result in fat loss of roughly 1 pound/week, a safe and normal rate of fat loss.  To figure out how many calories are right for you, first find your maintenance level (the amount of calories where you will neither lose or gain weight).  To do, this multiply bodyweight by 13.  From there, simply take that number and subtract 500 calories from it.  That is your daily calorie target to put yourself in a healthy calorie deficit.  This is just a rough estimate to get started on so track your weight week to week and make adjustments.  For example, if you find that your weight isn't changing after a few weeks then drop calories by 100-200 as your actual maintenance level is probably lower than the estimate.  As far as food choice goes, knock yourself out eating what you want to get to your calorie goal.  Think of it as a calorie "budget" that you have to spend each day.  Life is too short to not eat the food you love.

The last thing I'll leave you with is a simple statement to keep in mind when evaluating diet plans to follow- the more extreme the methods, the more extreme the rebound.

 


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04/06/2017 2:43am

Your post is informative and convincing, but I would research more about this. I have always considered that cleansing is a good way to lose weight and to get rid toxins in the body, but after reading your post it made me think twice. There are many reviews regarding cleansing and so far I have not encountered a bad one they did end up loosing weight, but I think it is only for a short period of time. When it comes to staying fit exercising and the right diet is the solution since the blade requires a certain number of calorie intakes per day. This post of yours is a good way to inform health conscious people about cleansing and to those who want to try it.

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Oh yeah to Cleanse or not to cleanse due! Well, somehow I wanted to agree and yet disagree on certain points. Nevertheless, it's also a matter of doing it properly and in balance diet as well. Health is wealth and if cleansing would give such spice and advantages then why not? It could work both ways actually. Let us just bear in mind that in everything we do and whatever we want to engage too for staying fit, healthy and fabulous, we must have to enjoy it, have fun and keep safe as always too!

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