Struggling with skin problems, aches and pains, or digestive issues? Feeling tired or drowsy?
Can’t seem to lose weight? Well then, it’s time for a full body detox!
Honestly, it seems like every day a new detox or cleanse claims to remove toxins from your body to help protect you from disease and increase energy levels.
I’d be willing to bet that if you scrolled through your Instagram feed right now you’d find more than a handful of models claiming some supplement got them their flat stomach, glowing skin, and made them feel like the healthiest person in the world.
I call bull sh*t.
Sure, there are some supplements, like whey protein and BCAAs that can speed up muscle recovery and make healthy eating convenient and enjoyable…
But detoxes, cleanses, teatoxes, water pills, and laxatives are not those supplements.
When it comes to detoxes and cleanses, most involve some level of fasting and all liquid nutrition for about a 7 to 10 day period.
Probably the most well known cleanse, The Master Cleanse, is a 10-day program that involves drinking a flavorful combination of… maple syrup/lemon juice/water/cayenne pepper lemonade throughout the day and taking daily laxatives.
Sounds like fun, I know!
When people buy into the idea of detoxes and teatoxes, they’re usually trying to keep their unhealthy lifestyle while looking for a magic fix.
Here’s what people try to do…
They try to eat like crap… skip exercise… miss out on sleep… and then take a bunch of pills designed to cure all of their problems.
Well sister, that ain’t gonna happen.
Sadly there is no solid scientific data backing the common claim that cleanses can “flush out toxins from our body.”
In fact, when writing this post, in a last ditch attempt to find any clinical studies, I googled “Scientific data to support cleanse detoxes” and some of the top hits included phrases like, Detox Scam and Detox Delusion.
And I thought this was really interesting coming from a medical background.
In the setting of real medicine, detoxification is a serious medical procedure. I got some exposure to this first hand, when I was rotating as an ICU pharmacist. We’d have patients come in unconscious or incoherent that had potentially ingested life-threatening amounts of drugs, alcohols, or poisons.
But in the case of detox cleanses… no ones been able to clearly identify the actual “toxin” that’s supposedly causing harm.
That’s why they use the term toxin in the first place because it sounds scary and just believable enough to be true.
Take for example this detox claim pulled directly from an actual website:
“Through cleansing and detoxification, you enable your body to better process this toxic load. Reducing the toxic load in your body decreases the risk of developing chronic health problems, improves overall health and immune response, and can increase energy levels.”
It’s pretty vague language if you ask me. They mention toxins and their removal, but that’s about it.
On the other hand… our bodies organs, specially the skin, gut, kidneys and liver are quite good at eliminating harmful substances.
Of course, detox advocates took advantage of this scientific fact and started claiming that the liver and kidney needed to be cleaned out periodically, the same way you’d rinse a sponge.
But in reality, the kidney and liver don’t work this way.
If toxins were accumulating in our liver and kidneys for the past 20-40 years, then we’d probably already be dead by now and wouldn’t have to talk about these silly topics.
When it comes to our body’s natural ability to eliminate waste, I am of the mindset of don’t fix what’s not broken!
The body is really good at what it does, and it doesn’t need some juice or tea to make it better.
But here’s what doesn’t always make sense…
If the science tells us that these cleanses are essentially useless, why do we hear so many people talking about how a detox made them feel sooooo much better.
Honestly, the real reason is probably just a change in diet.
Cleanses force you to eliminate all processed foods, added sugar, sodas, and even alcohol… well I’m pretty sure that anyone who cuts all that garbage from their diet is going to feel better.
And when it comes to weight loss, you’ll probably lose some pounds… at first.
Don’t get overly excited though because you’ll have once again lost water weight, which will come back as you as you start eating.
Detoxes and cleanses have been proven time and time again to be useless, especially for long-term weight loss and health.
Save your money.
On the same note, both diuretics and laxatives are a bad idea for creating sustainable results.
A diuretic, which is a scientific term for a water pill, decreases the amount of water in your system, thereby decreasing your weight.
The problem is that when you start messing with water balance, you can also create electrolyte imbalances that put you at risk for some unwanted side effects, including things like heart attack.
Laxatives are even more risky and I’d never want you to consider taking them for weight loss.
The only thing laxatives do is cause your bowels to empty out all of their contents, which means the only reason you may “lose weight” is because again you’re decreasing overall water weight.
A common myth with laxatives is that by taking these products you can absorb less calories, but this is actually not true because your body absorbs all of the calories in your food before the laxative has an effect.
When it comes to weight loss, these products might move the scale at first… but when it comes to fat loss that actually matters, they are total duds!
So let’s look at this again from a 1000 foot view.
If you’re eating a healthy diet packed with fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, then your body has absolutely no use for any radical detoxification measures for improved health.
And if your diet is poor, pounding juice for a week or drinking some tea isn’t going to do you any good.
In fact, following these types of diets for too long could cause vitamin and nutrient deficiencies, electrolyte imbalances, and a serious amount of muscle loss.
Cleanses and detoxes give you the impression that they can undo lifestyle decisions with a simple quick fix.
Save your money to buy fresh fruit, grass fed beef, whey protein supplements, and other items that will help you lose fat and keep it off.
But for lasting results, your best bet is still to EAT a healthy diet filled with all of the essential macronutrients.