A popular method of boosting weight loss is the detox cleanse. There are many cleanses on the market that offer prepackaged powders and pills that contain a blend of herbs and fibers to help detoxify the body. Other detox plans consist of fresh juices and eating raw for a period of time ranging from three days up to a month or more.
The question is, does it work?
Brian Walsh, a CSCS certified personal trainer and medical student at the University of Colorado, had this to say.
“The majority of detox cleanses and programs and the claims they make are not scientifically backed. The body does an amazing job of cleansing itself. However, the American diet is lacking in fiber intake and is overloaded by processed foods. Going on a cleanse or following a detox is positive as you are providing the body with an influx of nutrition and fiber, but the weight loss that occurs is temporary and will mostly likely be regained once the cleanse is complete.”
His opinion is supported by Examine, a website dedicated to finding the truth surrounding supplements and providing information about nutrition. As explained in a blog article on Examine, the cleanse works for weight loss and it involves caloric restriction. The physiological response to cleansing is the result of glycogen loss from the liver and muscles, not fat loss as many detox diets purport.
The body stores glycogen for energy, and in cases of famine or fright, it releases glycogen to give the body the energy it needs to survive. Glycogen stores can be depleted in 24 to 48 hours, and the result is sudden weight loss. This with the increased water intake, which causes increased urination, the majority of the weight loss achieved is water weight. Once regular eating patterns are reestablished, the weight returns and if a high-sodium diet is part of that pattern, the dieter can expect sodium bloat.
So should you cleanse?
Yes. Regardless of positive intention, most people eat poorly. Doing a cleanse increases vegetable and fruit consumption, adding fiber and a host of nutrients that a typical diet is devoid or lacking in. The result can be witnessed by improved skin, better regularity, bright eyes and overall feelings of wellness.
Another side effect of going through detox is that the taste buds are invariably changed. By eating clean for a period of time, the once blasé donut and coffee in the morning meeting now is a sugar and caffeine explosion.
One example of how cleansing can literally save your life is the story of Joe Cross, an Australian who founded the program Reboot with Joe. According to a summary on Wikipedia, Joe Cross weighed 310 pounds and suffered from an autoimmune condition which caused his skin to itch incessantly. He was taking numerous medications and his diet consisted of processed food, alcohol and he also smoked. According to Cross, he believed that his eating habits had caused his illness and he wanted to change his lifestyle. His decision to change his life was affirmed after a trip to the doctor, where he was informed that his lifespan would be shortened if he continued on his present path.
Cross decided to consume only juice for 60 days in order to improve his health under the supervision of his doctor. He started a juice fast in May of 2005 and decided to chronicle his journey by filming his progress and interviewing others about their thoughts about food and alternative health. He traveled in a truck with a cameraman, a sound guy, a juicer, and a generator. Cross survived on nothing but juices for 60.
The results were remarkable. As noted on Wikipedia, by day 61, Cross lost 82 pounds and decreased his medicine dosage. After drinking juice for the first 60 days, he lost 100 pounds and reported a complete loss of his urticaria symptoms. Following the 60-day juice fast, he consumed only foods derived from plants and no animal-based or processed food for 90 days.
Joe Cross was mentioned as saying that he does not recommend the diet as a long term solution, and only recommends it as a reboot for the body.
Cleanses are an excellent way to start your weight loss regimen, but they are a tool, not a cure. The best way to tackle weight loss is by combining proper nutrition and exercise, and by focusing on the benefit of improved health versus esthetics.
Ready to get started on a cleanse? Click here for easy to follow recipes to help kick start your quest for health and wellness.