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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

Will a Weight Loss Cleanse Really Improve Your Health?

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Will a Weight Loss Cleanse Really Improve Your Health?

Does a weight loss cleanse really do anything for your body? From skinny teas to juice cleanses, many of us try to “reboot” our body using different techniques, such as juicing.

But the question that remains is: Do these tactics actually work, or are they just a waste of time, energy, and money?

This question is vital for two reasons:

  1. If weight loss cleanses do work, then they could be the answer to a lot of health problems!
  2. If cleanses don’t work, they are not only a risk to your waistline, energy, and wallet, but also to your health.

Today, we are going to dive into this age old question and discover the truth behind which cleanses (if any) actually hold the power to change your health, or if they are all, in fact, just a waste of time.

Detoxing and Weight Loss

The number one reason people go on cleanses is for (you guessed it) weight loss! So, if people cleanse to lose weight, what is the deal with all the “detoxing” slang?

Well, many people believe that toxins cause slowed metabolisms and weight gain[1].

I can see your wheels turning. “So…if I decrease toxins, then I might lose weight, too?” That’s the idea. Hence, weight loss cleanses and detoxes go hand in hand.

Do Cleanses Actually Detox?

There are two separate ends of this spectrum. On the one side, you have many medical professionals stating that the body is capable of detoxing itself.

Marjorie Nolan Cohn, MS, RD, author of The Belly Fat Fix, put it this way:

“Organs and the immune system can handle detoxification on their own, no matter what you eat. The best detox is an overall healthful eating plan along with plenty of fluid that promotes regular trips to the bathroom.”[2]

On the opposite side of the spectrum, you have dietitians like Robin Foroutan, who say cleansing is a “legitimate component of health.”

While some cleanses are a waste of money, she holds that others aid detoxification in a helpful way[3]:

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“If a detox means cleaning up your diet, it has perks. A five-day juice or veggie cleanse, for example, may cut out problematic foods, like wheat, dairy, and artificial ingredients, flooding your body with antioxidants.”

It’s pretty clear that we’re bombarded with toxins everywhere! In fact, some articles claim that 515 chemicals come from just daily products[4]!

It’s pretty clear we weren’t meant to live in such a toxic environment. As a result, it brings up the question: Could our bodies use a little extra help? Could a toxin flush result in long-term weight loss?

Yes, some commercial cleanses out there are wild and dangerous! But, as Robin claims, it might not be as all or nothing as it seems.

Weight Loss Cleanse Myths

Does any weight loss cleanse actually lead to weight loss? Is it long-term?

If a crash diet is your only motive for doing a cleanse, I would rethink it. There are several reasons why cleanses could result in fast weight loss:

  • Reduced consumption of processed foods
  • Reduced sodium
  • Automatically eliminates most allergens or sensitivities
  • Provides your body with plenty of nutrients
  • Gives your digestion a break, providing more energy for healing
  • Reduced consumption of artificial sugar

However, that doesn’t mean the weight loss is sustainable. In fact, more than anything, what is lost is mostly water weight.

Crash diets have never worked long-term, and cleanses are not a “healthy” excuse to go on one. Cleanses were designed to boost nutrients and help your body run optimally. If they are used as a quick fix, then they will be a quick fail as well.

Aiding your body in the detox process could be beneficial, but a weight loss cleanse that involves only chugging maple syrup is probably the last thing you need!

So, if we do weight loss cleanse, which ones are best, and how do we find the right one?

Types of Cleanses

Of all the cleanses out there, there seem to be a few primary ones that compete for top dog. Here a few of the common cleanses and their respective benefits.

1. Whole Foods Cleanse

No, I’m not talking about the store. A whole foods cleanse is based on eating whole foods and eliminating anything processed. An example of this would be the Whole Foods Diet.

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These types of cleanses are some of my personal favorites since they are more gentle and don’t drastically cut your protein intake. This is the style of detox Dr. Hyman (and many other professionals) are the biggest advocates of[5].

2. Juice Cleanses

I have a love-hate relationship with this one. While I love how fresh-pressed juices can load your body with nutrients through fruits and vegetables, they can also load your body with a lot of sugar!

The natural result is blood-sugar imbalance and could lead to crashes. One way to naturally reduce this is to add more vegetables to your juices, like celery, cucumber, greens, etc. and not cut out solids entirely.

The key is to add fiber and protein and reduce sugar to help balance your system more than traditional juice cleanses.

3. Smoothie Cleanse

The idea behind a smoothie cleanse is that they are easier to digest while being full of nutrients and low in calories.

Unlike juicing, it is easy to add necessary protein to your diet with this weight loss cleanse. Also, blending smoothies helps retain much of the fiber that is lost in processes like juicing.

4. Tea Cleanses

Yikes! These teas help “cleanse” your body by increasing bowel movements. Just make sure you have nothing planned for the day, and remember that tea isn’t going to offer you anything in the way of nutrients. Also, any weight you lose with this cleanse will likely show up again within a few days, so don’t expect long-term results.

5. Sugar Cleanse

This detox works by helping balance your blood sugar. This is known to be a great option for people trying to cut the sugar habit.

It works much like a whole foods cleanse by adding plenty of quality plants and protein to your diet while cutting out refined sugars.

6. Fasting

Another personal favorite of mine is fasting! Giving our digestion a break is, in my opinion, a great way to reset your body. Fasts don’t need to last all day to be effective, either.

Some people fast for 16 hours through the night, others for 14, and some for 24 or more! Fasting has been used for ages to aid in detoxification and has recently come back into the mainstream[6]. It is known to be one of the most time-proven methods to boost health.

If you’re curious about intermittent fasting weight loss, check out this detailed article to learn how to get started.

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7. Crazy Fad “Cleanses”

Don’t even bother with these. If it has the label “lose 10 pounds in 2 days” on it, steer clear! As I mentioned before, fast weight loss just means a crash in metabolism.

That’s not what we’re looking for. If anything, what we need is a whole-foods fresh start!

Weight Loss Cleanse Tips

While most of these cleanses could have spectacular benefits (ignoring the fad and tea listings), there are a few deciding factors to work through to decide which one suits you.

1. Check with Your Doctor First

Before starting any new weight loss cleanse, make sure you are getting the advice of a health care professional. Some health issues could be complicated with certain types of cleanses.

Do your research first!

2. Ask Yourself: Is It Something That Hasn’t Worked for You in the Past?

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The same applies to your nutrition.

Have juice cleanses resulted in binges every time? Then find a different approach!

3. Take it Slow

While juice cleansing might boost energy for someone who generally eats healthy, cutting out everything at once might be too drastic for the average person.

Often, an all or nothing approach is not the way to go. Gauge where you are and practically work to where you want to be. For instance, the average junk food junkie might do best starting with a sugar cleanse by reducing soda and sweets.

To this person, jumping straight into a fast or juice cleanse could make them feel horrible at first and could even be potentially dangerous!

4. Check With Your Own Lifestyle

Let’s be real, if you know a certain type of cleanse will result in you starving all day only to run to a drive-through at night, then it’s not your best option. Find a cleanse that is doable with your lifestyle.

5. Don’t Cut out All Solid Food

You don’t have to cut out all solids to achieve great results! In fact, protein is almost essential for an effective detox[7]. It can be hard to get an effective amount of nutrients from liquids alone.

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If you opt for juicing for the nutrient boost, consider pairing it with nutrient-dense solid food throughout the day to keep you satiated.

Ideas for Cleansing Slowly and Naturally

As I mentioned before, sometimes a full blown weight loss cleanse might not be the best option!

Whether it’s for medical reasons or a history of not being able to stick to a nutrition plan, finding gentle and natural ways to cleanse might actually be the best way to ease your body into it.

If you are looking for ways to cleanse daily without going on a full blown cleanse diet, try some of these great options!

Sweat It out

Sweating has been found to be a really effective way to rid your body of toxins and unnecessary sodium[8], so it can be a great addition to any weight loss cleanse. Naturally, the best way to achieve this is through working out, since it increases blood flow and detoxes you naturally.

However, there are several other ideas to increase this effect as well. Try a hot yoga class, use a sauna, or take a hot bath in Epsom salt.

Drink Water

Drink your water! I know you’ve heard it before, but it is absolutely essential to getting your body a fresh new start. Think of water as the power washer inside of you.

Eat Plenty of Fiber

As I mentioned before, water is the power washer, but fiber is the scrub! Adding a good amount of fiber into your diet will ensure your body has an outlet for excreting unnecessary toxins from your body.

Eliminate Processed Foods and Sugar

I’m sure this goes without saying, but it’s going to be difficult to rid your body of toxins while loading it with new ones every day. To ease into things, try applying the 80/20 rule in your life.

Eat healthy 80% of the time, and enjoy a small treat every now and then.

Try Herbal Supplements

Some herbs like dandelion root and green tea have been found effective in reducing toxins. Do a little research and discover what foods and herbs you can easily sneak into your daily diet to get great results!

The Bottom Line

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a healthy lifestyle isn’t either. Don’t rush things. Instead, build an amazing lifestyle through all of your eating habits before jumping into a weight loss cleanse.

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More Weight Loss Tips

Featured photo credit: K15 Photos via unsplash.com

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Katelyn Delaney

Owner of Revifi -- Fitness Training & Life Coaching

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Published on August 24, 2021

What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

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What Is a Whole Food Diet And Does It Really Work?

I’ve been a dietitian now for a long time (more years than I care to mention), and if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that fad diets are best avoided. This is why I’m so pleased that whole food diets are being talked about more and more.

Rather than a “diet,” I prefer to think of a whole food diet as a way of life. Eating this way is balanced, and it is a great way to support your all-around body health and longevity. Plus, it’s delicious and—in my opinion—not limiting either, which is a massive bonus.

A well-balanced diet follows some fairly basic principles and, in essence, consists of plenty of the following:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Lean protein
  • Nuts
  • Water

This is essentially all a whole food diet is. Unfortunately, there isn’t an accepted definition of the whole food diet, which means that there are some highly restrictive versions around and some involve principles to frame your diet around rather than strict rules.

Read on to learn more about the whole food diet as a framework for eating rather than a strict rule book of dos and don’ts that restricts your lifestyle.

What Is a Whole Food Diet?

By definition, a whole food diet consists of eating foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. It’s easy to get lost in a quagmire of organic, local, or pesticide-free, but a whole food diet is basically food in its most natural form. Obviously, spices can be ground and grains can be hulled, but you get the idea. You eat the whole food rather than what’s left after being refined or processed.

In other words, it involves a lot of cooking because whole foods do not involve anything processed. That means no premade sauces, dips, or convenience foods like chocolate bars, sweets, or ready-meals. It also includes things like tinned vegetables and white bread.

Why? Processed and convenience foods are often high in salt, saturated fat, and additives in comparison to anything homemade. Because of this, their toll on your overall health is higher.

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Can Other Diets Also Be Whole Food Diets?

Here’s where it gets confusing—yes, other diets can also be whole food diets. Eating a whole food diet is a lifestyle choice, but many other diets can exist within a whole foods construct. So, diets like the MIND Diet and Mediterranean Diet are also whole food diets.

For example, here are the foods involved in the MIND Diet:[1]

  • Green, leafy vegetables five times a week
  • Five or more different colored fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Berries five times a week
  • Five or more servings of nuts a week
  • Olive oil five times a week
  • Whole grains five times a week
  • Oily fish twice a week or take an algae-based omega-3 supplement
  • Legumes and pulses five times a week
  • White meat/mix of plant-based proteins twice a week
  • Vitamin D supplement
  • Minimally processed foods
  • No more than one glass of wine a day
  • One or two coffee or tea a day max
  • Two liters of water a day

That’s pretty much a whole food diet, right? As long as any meat or plant-based proteins are as unprocessed as possible, then it can be a whole food diet.

Other diets, like a vegan diet, for instance, could be whole food diets or not. It really depends if processed foods are included. Some food substitutes are really heavily processed, so it’s important to read labels really carefully. But it’s only some, not all.

And here’s where it gets woolly. If you don’t need to eliminate certain food groups for whatever reason—ethical, health, religion—then a whole food diet can be great. But if you do exclude certain foods, then it could be beneficial to include certain “processed” foods. This is to make sure that you don’t miss out on vital nutrients to keep you healthy.

Processed Foods That Are Okay on a Whole Food Diet

Many brands of cereals are fortified with B vitamins, which can be hard to come by on a plant-based diet.

For example, vitamin B12 (needed for maintaining a healthy nervous system, energy, and mood-regulation), is largely found in animal sources. It is something that those on a plant-based diet need to keep an eye on, as studies show that around 20% of us are deficient. And we also know that 65% of vegans and vegetarians don’t take a B vitamin supplement.[2]

So in that case, choosing a cereal fortified with B vitamins would be a good option, if done wisely. By that I mean use your discretion and check the labels, as many brands of cereals are packed with sugar and additives. But you can strategically choose minimally processed foods using a whole foods mentality.

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As a rule of thumb, if there are any ingredients that you can’t pronounce, don’t understand, or sound artificial, they probably are best avoided.

Benefits of a Whole Food Diet

In a 2014 analysis by Yale University, they concluded that “a diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”[3]

A diet rich in fruit and vegetables or other high-fiber foods like whole grains and nuts is really important in maintaining good long-term health and preventing health problems like diabetes and cancers. These kinds of foods also help our bodies to cope and control the effects of inflammation.

In fact, one review from 2019 stated that “diets high in plant foods could potentially prevent several million premature deaths each year if adopted globally.”[4] This is a big endorsement for a whole food diet.

Whole Foods and the Gut

Whole foods are loaded with fibers that are sometimes lost during processing or refinement. Fiber is essential for a healthy gut because aside from its traditional “roughage” reputation, it also feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, providing a whole host of other benefits.

They also provide a lot of variety, which the gut loves. The more variety, the better. So, even though you might fall in love with certain recipes, it’s important to mix up the kinds of whole foods you eat to maintain a healthy gut. Aim for 30 different whole foods each week. It’s easier than you think!

Whole Foods and the Brain

The brain is a really hungry organ, and it uses 25% of the total energy you consume from your food. Everything it needs to function at its best is—you guessed it—a whole, unprocessed food.

In fact, the best diet recommended for brain health is the MIND Diet. In one study, it was shown that people who follow the MIND diet closely had a 53% reduced rate of developing Alzheimer’s.[5]

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Some of the best whole foods for the brain are:[6]

  • Oily fish
  • Nuts
  • Eggs
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Whole grains

Is It Easy to Follow a Whole Food Diet?

Once you’ve got your head around having “ingredients” rather than “ready-to-eat” things in your kitchen cupboards, it’s actually very easy. The only issue is the lifestyle and habit changes that come along with it.

It is very likely that for many people, following a totally, religiously whole food diet may be unattainable at least some of the time. For example, there are days where you don’t get time to make your lunch or if you want to enjoy social eating. Similarly, people who have young children or who are working more than one job are unlikely to be able to follow a whole food diet all of the time.

Sometimes, we put ourselves under pressure to be as perfect as we can with diets like this, which can lead to an eating disorder called Orthorexia, which is a preoccupation with healthy eating.

This means that following a whole food diet, in principle, can be healthy and accessible for some people but not for everyone. It also means that those with previous disordered eating, as always, need to avoid any form of dietary restriction or rules around their diet.

Is a Whole Food Diet Boring?

Absolutely not! The beauty of this way of eating is that there are barely any recipes that are off-limits. If you can make it yourself using natural ingredients, then it counts. So, dig out your recipe books and get familiar with your spice cupboard.

Here’s my advice if you’re just starting: stock up on coconut milk and canned tomatoes. You’ll use them all the time in sauces.

Best Hacks for Sticking With a Whole Food Diet

Here are some tips to help you stick with a whole food diet and develop this lifestyle.

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1. Practice Batch Cooking

Especially in the beginning, if you’ve been used to eating more convenience-based or packaged foods, you’re likely to feel like you spend the majority of your life in the kitchen. So, I’d suggest getting your cookbooks out and planning around five things to make per week. If you make double, or even triple portions depending on your household, you’ll have enough quantity to last several meals.

For example, his could be homemade granola. Make it once, and that’s breakfast sorted for a week. Whole food diet ingredients like oats, quinoa, buckwheat, nuts, and seeds are all delicious, and great nutritional resources to keep you feeling full until lunchtime.

I also love to make big stews, sauces, and curries that can happily be reheated and added throughout the course of a few days.

2. Make Your Own Convenience Foods

Sticking to a new way of eating can be really difficult, especially for your willpower. So, it’s very important to make it as easy as possible for yourself.

Pre-chop. Pre-chop. Pre-chop.

If you’ve got a container of carrot sticks on hand or can happily munch on a few pieces of melon from the fridge, use those—it’s almost easier than grabbing something from a package. This can extend to your other vegetables, too. If you get your veg delivered or buy it from a market, choose a few things to slice after you wash them. That way, if you need a speedy lunch or a lazy dinner, it’ll be ready in minutes.

Ready to Try a Whole Food Diet?

If you’re looking to maximize your overall health, well-being, and vitality, I’d absolutely suggest a whole food diet. But, as with everything, it’s important to do what works for you and your own lifestyle.

Featured photo credit: Louis Hansel – Restaurant Photographer via unsplash.com

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Reference

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