The fact you’re reading this blog means you’ve probably spent a little time scouring search engines for ‘quick weight loss’, or a derivative thereof.
And anyone that’s spent any amount of time asking Google to be their coach will have undoubtedly come into contact with one of the hottest ‘fad-diet’ trends of recent years; the detox.
Now ‘detoxes’ can come in many shapes or sizes, the most common usually revolve around one or more of the following principles:
- Drinking only a specific ‘juice blend’ for a period of time (which, you will of course be purchasing from the proponents of said detox)
- Eliminating all food except one ‘detoxing’ choice, such as lemons or watermelons
- Eating a single serving of soup or meal replacement, and fasting at all other times
And the common claims these ‘quick fixes’ will make? They promise to help you lose body fat, and remove ‘toxins’.
Let’s address these one at a time.
Will A Detox Help Me Lose Weight?
Assuming the detox adheres to one of the previously mentioned methods, or works primarily off restricting your eating over a course of time, then yes- it will result in weight loss.
If I eat a single serving of pumpkin soup a day over the course of a week, I’ll weigh less than when I was eating 3 balanced meals a day.
But, the same could be said if I were eating a single cheese burger, or serving of ice cream per day instead.
You’ll lose weight if you’re forced into a calorie deficit.
This isn’t fancy science or new, it’s just how our body works. But, notice I’ve said ‘weight’, not just ‘fat’.
Dropping your calories too far below your energy requirements will cause your body to use whatever it can to fuel movement- meaning yes, it will burn body fat, but, it will also use up your muscle (read more about that here).
Reduced lean muscle will result in a decreased metabolic rate (and effect a number of other life-improving factors associated with increased muscle mass).
Meaning although you’ll lose some fat, you could actually end up with a higher body fat percentage after the detox is up, because of the the lean muscle you’ve lost in the process.
And once you begin to eat like a normal human again? Your metabolic rate will have slowed, making it likely you’ll store more of what you eat as body fat- meaning a common series of events for a detox diet advocate as follows:
Starting weight: 200lbs
Starting body fat %: 21%
Juice Detox For 14 Days
Post detox weight: 184lbs
Post detox body fat %: 24%
2 Weeks of ‘normal’ eating later
Body fat %: 28%.
Whereas if the enthusiastic detox dieter had followed sensible nutrition protocols without going too extreme (which we’ll cover later on), it’s highly likely they’d have ended up anywhere from 2-8 pounds lighter, with a drop in body fat percentage- without having to survive on a repeatable juice diet for two weeks.
Seeing the issue here?
Ok, ok, so it’s not the best for weight loss, but what about ‘toxins’?!
Ah yes, those terrifying ‘toxins’.
We should probably first examine, what exactly a ‘toxin’ is.
The most obvious example of a toxin comply found in our diet, would be alcohol.
In small quantities, say a glass of wine or beer with dinner, our body (or most people’s bodies) can metabolise it just fine, and feel no ill effects.
If we have two bottles of wine in the space of an hour and you can end up with blood alcohol poisoning.
But that’s a pretty obvious one, right?
But weirdly enough, the same rules apply to a seemingly harmless food items.
Take a banana for instance. Eat one, and you’ll feel just fine. Eat enough and you’ll overdose on Potassium (it’s a myth that 6 bananas in a row will kill you though, we’re looking at a number far, far higher).
Anything, when eaten to excess, is a ‘toxin’.
So how does our body currently deal with ‘toxins’ it might be ingesting?
The way detox diets promote themselves, you’d think everyone that doesn’t regularly live off kale and spinach soup would be on the brink of toxin-related death.
That however, isn’t the case.
This is because our bodies are awesome at protecting and detoxing against anything harmful we consume or absorb.
Our kidneys, liver, digestive system, lungs, hell even our skin all have in-built ways to ‘cleanse’ us of the stuff that could otherwise make us sick.
Ok, so if detoxing isn’t the best way to lose body fat and manage ‘toxins’, what is?
Our bodies are very, very smart at keeping us healthy- after all, we don’t want to get sick and die.
But despite our internal resiliency, there are still some golden rules we should abide by if we want to give ourselves the best fighting chance at staying healthy, and getting lean.
1- Eat The Rainbow
No, I do not mean Skittles.
Different vegetables and fruits all contain varying amounts and types of vitamins and minerals.
We refer to the goodies vegetables and fruits are filled with as ‘phytonutrients’, and a diet filled to the brim with them is key to both remaining healthy, and losing fat.
Oddly enough, there tends to be a loose ‘colour coding’ deal with vegetables, as to which phytonutrients they contain.
So, eating a wide range of green (spinach, broccoli, etc..), red (tomatoes, peppers, etc…), orange (pumpkin, carrots, etc…), purple (beetroot, blueberries, etc…) and white (onions, garlic, etc…) vegetables in key to having a body that functions and performs correctly.
In a perfect world you’d have 2 palms of vegetables with every main meal on order to absorb an optimal amount (check out this smoothie recipe to make the intake that little bit easier if you’re in a rush!).
2- Stay Hydrated
I know, I know, ‘eat your veggies and drink your water’- I sound like every nagging mum ever, right?
But as it turns out- mum did know best on this one.
Staying hydrated will improve your body’s ability to digest food and absorb the nutrients it needs, will improve performance and cognitive function, and will help blunt hunger cravings and improve fat loss.
Aim to consume one litre of water per 25 kilos of weight as a minimum- buy yourself a fancy water bottle to carry around to help keep the goal in mind.
3- Eat When Hungry, Stop When Full
As we touched upon when addressing ‘toxins’, anything can become a negative health factor if you consume too much- and the obvious ramifications of over eating is the additional body fat you’ll store.
To help avoid overeating, make sure you’re paying attention to your food- meaning no more scoffing your face whilst watching TV.
Your digestive tract will function best if you listen to your hunger cues- eat when you feel hungry, take your time to enjoy the meal, and stop once you become full.
These Three Rules Will Trump Any ‘Detox Diet’
Long term effort following sustainable nutrition protocols will always win over any attempt to cheat progress.
As with everything worth doing- there is no shortcut.
So ditch the ‘quick fixes’ and start thinking long game- not only will you have healthier, greater results long-term, you’ll also be able to eat solid foods at all times- and that’s got to be a win!
Believe us when we say we completely understand how difficult weight loss can be. The Luke Bremner Fitness team have worked with hundreds of clients who initially found weight loss difficult challenging, as you may be now.
If you are currently struggling to lose weight and are unsure where you’re going wrong, perhaps we can help. We appreciate losing weight and improving your health can be overwhelming and confusing. By breaking it down in to simple, actionable steps that are achieveable, we can help, just like we have with the hundreds of clients we’ve worked with – many of whom you can read about here.
To find our more about our nutrition coaching, programmes and how we can help you achieve your goals, you can book in for your complimentary consultation.