Let's get straight to the point of this one. The 1st of January usually means one thing: the dreaded detox diet. But here's the thing about detox diets...
Detox diets are a scam and are based on glorified fake science.
They claim to:
Rid the body of supposed “toxins” caused by our hectic lifestyle to restore health, energy and balance
Cleanse and sooth inflamed bowels
Have high levels of anti-oxidants to neutralise free-radicals in the body
And promise you the body of your dreams in as little as 7 days
With such glorious claims, it’s hard to resist right? Yet there is not a shred of scientific evidence to back these claims up.
The body is a weird but extremely efficient and wonderful place that is more than capable of detoxing itself, given the right tools.
In a healthy individual, these tools are; a liver, a set of kidneys, a pair of lungs, a digestive system and skin.
Combined with a balanced diet, you have a perfectly eloquent detoxification system that you don’t have to swipe your credit card for.
The liver is the big gun, which is loaded with enzymes to convert toxic substances into less harmful ones, then filtered through the kidneys and passed out in your pee.
So not only are detoxes a scam, but they also suck. Big time. Here are 5 reasons why:
1 They Suck Your Money Out of Your Wallet
A “detox” is not something you undergo because you’ve eaten too many mince pies or had a boozy Christmas. It is in fact, a medical term that refers to the safe discontinuation from a dangerous level of drugs, alcohol or poisons. For which, you need a doctor and a hospital.
So when you see the term “detox” being used on the side of a box of dandelion teabags, you are being exploited. Of your money. Your hard earned money is literally being weed down the drain when detox products are bought.
And what exactly are these “toxins” that they referring to? As it turns out, the suppliers of these detox products don’t know either.
Nor do they attempt to explain how they work. They can’t explain how they work simply because they do not work.
According to science, a toxin is a biological poison that can cause disease, such as snake venom. If you were in fact bitten by a snake then I’m pretty sure it’s an ambulance that you need and not a box of herbal detox teas from Holland & Barrett.
Misusing the words “detox” and “toxins” is a very deceptive form of marketing to make a pseudo-science product appear legit and rob you of your money.
As for the anti-oxidants claim, not only does our body makes its own anti-oxidants from the food we eat, we don’t need an overload of them and we pee out any spare ones.
We are literally weeing our money down the drain when we buy detox products.
2 They Suck Your Insides Out
For most detox products that market themselves as weight loss aids or cleanses, an active ingredient is Senna or some form of milder herbal laxative, such as liquorice or fennel.
Laxatives are used to treat constipation by emptying the contents of the bowel. However, if you’re not constipated and you take laxatives, they can cause a great big gloopy mess.
They literally suck your insides out.
It is this loss of your insides that is ultimately responsible for a lot of lost weight on the scales and not the loss of any body fat at all.
If such products are abused, they can interfere with blood sugar regulation and cause an electrolyte imbalance, which can result in weakness, confusion, seizures, and even an abnormal heart beat.
Losing the contents of your bowels in 0 to 2 seconds is not healthy. If used frequently, it is not uncommon to develop a dependence on the product, where you soon won’t be able to go for a regular number two without them.
3 They Suck Your Life Out of You
Detox products can’t and won’t improve your liver and kidney function, no matter how fancy the box it is sold in.
Along with laxatives, many of the products contain diuretics, which simply make you pee more; resulting in lost water from the body.
Some common natural diuretics used in detox products are dandelion, nettle, burdock root and corn silk. Funnily enough, dandelion in French translates to pissenlit.
Diuretics are not magical dusting fairies that sweep out toxins from your body. They are drugs used to treat serious medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart failure.
Most diuretics work by dumping more sodium into urine, which in turn takes water from your blood to dilute it, resulting in lower pressure on the heart and blood vessels.
Diuretics are by no means a quick fix and I don’t care how “natural” the product claims to be. If abused, taking diuretics has severe consequences.
An overdose of diuretics can cause an electrolyte imbalance, abnormal heart beat, extreme weakness, muscle cramps, dizziness, vomiting, and in the worst case even a coma.
The addition of diuretics to detox products increases the amount of lost weight for sure. But it’s all in the form of water. An unhealthy amount of water.
Unfortunately, for the scale obsessed, they are led to believe that this drop in scale weight is fat melting off their bodies.
What a con.
4 They Suck Your Strength Out of You
You will also notice that detox products will have a disclaimer that says ‘should be taken as part of a calorie restricted diet’, or even worse, recommend that you slash your calorie intake to practically nothing.
Which begs the question - is it the detox or the calorie restriction that causes the weight loss?
Rhetorical question by the way.
When you slash your calorie intake, like the instructions tell you to do, the body will use up its stored energy reserves. Once these stores have been depleted after a couple of days, your body will start to break itself down for energy.
If you are not eating proper food or taking any protein on board then your body might start to break down its own muscle to provide it with the amino acids it needs to function.
A loss of muscle mass equals a loss of strength, as well as a decreased metabolic rate, which can result in weight gain once you start eating normally again.
What a fat mess.
5 They Suck Your Happiness Out of You
What’s the first thing you think of when going on a “detox”? Deprivation? Elimination? How about starvation?
Certainly not the sort of vocabulary I associate with happiness, but rather with misery.
Total misery manifested in the form of headaches, muscle aches, unpleasant trips to the loo, weakness, and even a pending feeling of death.
What’s scary is that some people will actually embrace these side effects and believe it is the result of their bodies undergoing a detox or being cleansed.
They will tolerate these symptoms for a number of days or even weeks and believe they are some sort of detox martyr for enduring such suffering.
When all that they are truly experiencing are the unpleasant side effects of diarrhoea, dehydration, and starvation.
That’s not being a martyr. That’s falling victim to marketing exploitation.
Take Home Message
Unless you are drugged up to your eyeballs or have been bitten by a black widow spider then chances are you don’t need to detox.
Detox diets, if used in the long-term and in the absence of a balanced diet, will harm your health.
They are an exploitative way of robbing you of a buck load of money that you will ultimately wee and poo down the toilet.
They say prevention is better than cure. So avoid extreme behaviours such as binging on processed food, alcohol, and cigarettes in the first place.
Or if you have overindulged this Christmas and eaten all the Roses except the sickly strawberry ones. Then so bloody what.
The best thing to do now is to just get back to NORMAL. What is the point in having a Merry Christmas and a Miserable New Year?
Down with that sort of thing!
Approach the New Year differently this year. Accept that there was overindulgence over the holidays but then just get back to NORMAL, but feeling relaxed, reset, revived, renewed, and ready.
Forget the nasty extreme elimination diets and sucky detoxes, banishing you from eating all known tasty food known to man. Instead, just get right back to NORMAL.
Say NO to January detoxes, cleanses, magic shakes and pills.
Say NO to nasty elimination fad diets.
Say NO to deprivation and misery.
Say NO to guilt, anxiety and damaged self-esteem.
Say NO to punishing yourself in the gym.
No extreme measures are required. All that is needed is a regular ole (unsexy) healthy balanced diet. Just get right back to NORMAL.
If you are feeling bloated and are a bit heavier on the scales, then so what. Most of it will just be water retention (bloat) and unlikely that that much fat was gained over 10 days.
And even if it was gained? So bloody what. Instead, think of all the wonderful memories that were created over the last few days as the delicious food that was enjoyed brought friends and families together.
Did I already say just get right back to NORMAL?
Give the quackery science a miss and don’t get sucked in by the desire for a “quick fix”. Drink plenty of water, eat lots of quality food, exercise, sleep, and watch the body take care of itself.
All by itself.
PS If you are curious to know more about this "normal" way of dieting, which is also a more sustainable, maintainable, and dare I say enjoyable way to approach long term weight loss, then you'll love my online nutrition coaching program Ignition Nutrition. For a saner, healthier and happier alternative to the dreaded January detox then give my nutrition group Ignition Nutrition a go. It could change your life, if you let it. Doors to the New Year edition of Ignition Nutrition now open!