Debunking Detox Diets

Summer is fast approaching and with warmer weather comes increasing pressure to get that elusive ‘summer body’. If you look around social media, magazines and the Diet and Nutrition aisle of bookstores, you might notice the word ‘detox’ everywhere: in raw food cookbooks, celebrity-endorsed teas, and confusing messages about what you should and should not eat to be slim in time for summer.

I want you to know that you don’t need a detox to feel confident in your body, and these diets are actually risky and not at all based on science.

I want you to know that you don’t need a detox to feel confident in your body, and these diets are actually risky and not at all based on science.

Popular detox diets tout a lot of health claims, such as removing bodily toxins, melting away stubborn fat, cleansing your gut, and more. The general recommendations of most detox diets are to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, drink lots of water or unsweetened tea and cut out any processed foods, grains, dairy, animal protein, caffeinated beverages and alcohol. The calorie allowances of these unbalanced diets are often not sustainable for an active person, nor is their protein content, yet followers of these diets are told that daily vigorous exercise is a must. Of course, there are numerous benefits to eating more fruits and vegetables and cutting back on alcohol, but your current diet does not leave you with a toxin overload that warrants restrictive dieting or questionable ‘detoxifying’ products. 

The truth is our bodies are really good at removing daily toxins, and no one food or product can do this for you. Your liver processes blood from your digestive system and heart to remove harmful toxins and prevent their absorption into tissues. The kidneys also filter blood and excrete the waste products through urine production, while reabsorbing the good stuff like electrolytes, glucose, water and other important stuff your body needs. Consuming detox teas and other diuretic products – those that make you urinate more frequently – can increase your risk of losing too many electrolytes causing imbalances and are not an effective or safe strategy to lose weight.

Any slimming effect you might experience from detox teas and diuretics comes from a temporary loss of water weight, not body fat.

There are better ways to look and feel your healthiest this summer. Load up half your plate at lunch and dinner with seasonal vegetables and stay hydrated by keeping a water bottle with you wherever you go. If you choose to drink alcohol, limit your intake to no more than 2 drinks a day if you are female or 3 drinks a day if you are male, and incorporate at least a couple non-drinking days each week. Enjoy more physical activity outdoors and, most importantly, do not feel like you have to be a certain size to have fun this summer. Healthy, sustainable weight loss cannot be achieved in a matter of days, so be skeptical of any diet that makes big promises. Need guidance and support in reaching your best weight?

Erin Martin

Ryan Stallard