To Detox Or Not To Detox If You Want To Lose Weight

With all those beautiful celebrity slimmers like Kim Wilde extolling the virtues of detoxing diets what are us mere mortals to make of it all? Should we be tempted to look in to it? Are they healthy and do they really help us to lose weight?

Lose more than stone in two weeks, beat cellulite forever and get clearer skin! Detoxes make many promises like this which may, at first glance appear to be very tempting especially when we are trying to lose weight after the party season. After all that over eating and over indulgence at Christmas, there should be no surprises that we find these diets so tempting especially as the promise is to give us almost instant weight loss and an almost angelic feeling of superiority over our friends and colleagues.

Pop singer, Kim Wilde, who has just released a Detox Video detailing the diet she recently emerged from says ‘Since following this 10 Day Detox, I have lost weight and gained energy – it really does work and it has changed my lifestyle completely!’ Meanwhile, Countdown celebrity Carol Vorderman, has promised a detox that will work wonders and do everything starting from helping you to lose weight, to getting rid of cellulite and helping make you feel more energetic. She doesn’t stop there with promises to get rid of colds, make you feel calm and lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. It’s really compelling stuff. However, many health experts question how healthy detox diets really can be – and that should be enough to set some of out alarm bells ringing.

What is the theory behind it?

Those in favour of detox dieting say that our bodies are continually overloaded with toxins from pollution, cigarettes, poor diets, alcohol and caffeine. As these toxins collect in our system, a number of health threats develop, including putting on weight, cellulite, strong headaches, poor and dull skin, tiredness, low immunity to infection, aches and pains. The detoxing process can help to remove these toxins with the result that you can lose weight, feel considerably healthier and recover from hose other health issues.

What does detox dieting involve?

Proponents say that there are many methods to help you to detox. These range from the mild and enjoyable like saunas and massages to the more extreme and unpleasant such as colonic irrigation and a fast for a few day. Supplements such as milk thistle and ‘liver’ tonics can often also be recommended. And making such dietary changes is, of course, the main part of most weight loss detox plans.

What foods do these detox diets actually allow?

The foods allowed and those banned do vary quite widely amongst different detox diets, but in general those permitted include; fruit, vegetables, some beans, nuts, seeds, herbal teas and lots of water. In contrast though; wheat foods, dairy, all meat, fish, eggs, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, salt and processed foods – in fact, most of the foods that many of us typically love – are rarely allowed in.

What do the health experts say?

Quite rightly, most nutrition experts, dieticians and doctors say that our bodies should be very capable of excreting our waste without the aid of any ‘detoxing’ – that’s what our liver, lungs and kidneys are designed for, after all. Unfortunately the modern lifestyles most of us adopt tend to lead to us overindulging and exposing ourselves to higher levels of toxins than our bodies can cope with which can then lead to nutrient deficiencies and other severe health problems.

But do detox diets really help you to lose weight?

Yes they almost certainly do owing to the dramatic reduction in calorie intake. Cutting out all those major food groups such as dairy, meat and wheat-based products means that your digestive system will be able to take a complete rest – however temporary – probably for the first time in your life. The amount of weight that you can probably expect to lose will of course vary according to how severe the diet restriction is and the more of those foods that become banned, the more of your weight you are likely to lose. It’s really as simple as that. Calories In and Calories Out.

So, what are the pros?

So we know that detox diets do encourage several good habits. These include eating more fruit and vegetables as well as drinking much more water. We also cut down on those junk food and processed sugars. Plus these diets do encourage you to cut back on toxins like caffeine and alcohol. These are all good habits to get into. They can also help you think about what it is that you’re eating and this can be quite motivating as you take charge of your own health.

And what about the cons?

The real problem here relates to the inevitable fact that detoxing diets can be very short on many key nutrients, which would be a problem for detoxing diets longer than a week. Some people will also experience some side effects, such as feeling tired, sick and having headaches. Proponents will say this is because your body detoxing and an inevitable sign of detoxification as our bodies try to cope without stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol. Its a clear indication just how bad for us these toxins are if our body reacts this way when we are withdrawn from them. The more acute our reaction, the more ‘addicted’ to these toxins have become. Finally, when detoxing, eating out and socializing are almost impossible as most hosts or restaurants are not a good mix with detoxers. It can, therefore, be a lonely few days!

Final verdict

There are some aspects of detoxing which are good for weight loss. They can really help boost your health. As stated these include eating more fruit and veg, cutting out junk food and drinking more water. But, that’s not to say that a good detox is going to be easy. Ultimately, if we still want to follow a good detox diet look for one that seems to be based on common sense. Importantly, only use it as a kick-start to a longer term healthy lifestyle of a balanced diet and a healthy amount of activity. No surprises there.

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