The Myth of The “Detox” Diet
There are many “detox” diets out there that promise miraculous things. Rapid weight loss, cellulite reduction, a fresh mind brimming with clarity, renewed metabolic function, the cleansing of "stored poop" and a host of other appealing sounding benefits. And while you may temporarily see some weight loss (the rest of the claims are dubious at best), here is a host of reasons why we need to avoid 🛑, avoid 🚫, avoid ✋!
- You are not full of toxins. If you were, you would be sick, hospitalized or dying. A toxin is generally defined as an antigenic poison which causes disease or even death when present in low concentration in the body. Most of us were born with a perfectly fine detoxification system that serves to help eliminate toxins already. These are your lungs, kidneys, liver and your immune system. All that stuff came free inside your functioning, alive body.
- Many of these detox systems or plans are based upon severe caloric restriction, often in the carbohydrate department. When we restrict our carbohydrate intake, we have less glucose to break down. Each molecule of glucose requires 3 molecules of water to be stored as glycogen (the body’s storage unit for carbohydrates). Depleting your glycogen stores by restricting carbohydrates, therefore automatically decreases the amount of water stored in your system, and the scale will trend down. Once you begin eating a more typical level of carbohydrates, your body will recruit water again and your body weight will go up.
- Caloric restriction can lead to binge eating or feelings of unwellness. Nothing like being starved out for 6 days on juice and a prayer to make one reach for a pizza or extra large bag of salty snacks. Need we say more? Caloric restriction over a period of days also leads to hormonal imbalance and general exhaustion. Restricting entire food groups can also lead to electrolyte imbalance which can be particularly harmful if you have an underlying health condition, participate in sports regularly, or even just desire a feel of general wellbeing.
- They're full of $#!t. Websites selling cleanse supplements often claim that most people are carrying 5-20 pounds of undeposited poop inside them. As repulsive sounding as this is, if that were true you would have what is called a bowel impaction and would immediately need to seek medical attention. Long story short, if anyone was carrying around 20 pounds of stored up fecal matter, they would experience many unpleasant symptoms including gas, nausea, bloating and abdominal pain and potentially death. If you poop regularly, your colon is fine. Leave it alone.
Whenever you alight upon a diet that promises miraculous transformation within a short amount of time, just remember that feeding yourself properly and intelligently, in a mindful and regular manner is the key to long term health. Weight management and wellbeing are achieved over long periods of time with consistency and an eye on proper nutrition. Not spending 6 grim days being hangry, unhappy maniac. No one wants, or needs, that - so make sure you're taking care of yourselves out there.
Sheb is the Arya® Resident Nutrition Coach and record holding powerlifter. Her company, Shebnation® Nutrition was founded in 2017 and she has helped countless people reach their nutrition and weight loss goals, all the while fostering an environment of science based knowledge and empathetic support for her clients. If you're interested in learning more about Shebnation Nutrition, visit Shebnation.com or find @Shebnation on Instagram.