Living in Los Angeles, it seems like everyone is on a detox diet.
Detox diets come in many forms, but usually involve some concoction of fruit and vegetable juices – sometimes with some added herbs or spices. According to detox enthusiasts and marketers alike, the diet cleanses your body of toxins and chemicals, boosts energy and often results in weight loss.
But do they really work?
First things first, your body already does a great job of filtering most toxins through your liver, kidneys and colon. According to the Mayo Clinic, there’s little evidence that detox diets actually detoxify the body. Instead, the benefits of the diet may have more to do with eliminating highly processed foods or added sugar.
When it comes to weight loss, detox diets are nothing more than a quick fix. For her role in Dreamgirls, Beyonce famously lost 20 pounds using the Lemonade Detox Diet of maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. However, she quickly regained the weight and subsequently warned people to avoid the diet.
Here’s why detox diets are so bad for lasting weight loss.
Detox diets severely restrict calories. Because detox dieters consume fewer calories than they burn, weight is lost – but some of it is hard-earned muscle (especially since detox diets rarely include protein). As with any starvation diet, the body switches into survival mode by slowing down the metabolism. Detox diets are unsustainable, and eventually the diet will end. When regular calorie consumption finally resumes, a slowed metabolism will ensure quick weight gain. Unfortunately, almost all of the weight gained will be fat. You’ll have to rebuild all that lost muscle mass at the gym.
Detox diets lack the fundamentals necessary for sustainable and lasting weight loss. In fact, according to WebMD:
The risks outweigh any benefits, making traditional detox diets both ineffective and potentially dangerous. Detox diets are based on unrealistic fears and dieters’ lack of understanding of how the body works… Potential side effects include low energy, low blood sugar, muscle aches, fatigue, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, and nausea. Prolonged fasting can lead to more serious health problems.