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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

Will a Weight Loss Cleanse Really Improve Your Health?

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.

More Weight Loss Tips

Featured photo credit: K15 Photos via unsplash.com

Reference

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Katelyn Delaney

Owner of Revifi -- Fitness Training & Life Coaching

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Published on January 14, 2021

How to Create a Healthy Meal Plan for the Week

How to Create a Healthy Meal Plan for the Week

Meal plans are a great way to cut down waste, make shopping for food quicker and easier, and help you to stick to healthy choices. But where do you start? What makes a healthy meal plan for the week, and how do you know what to include?

Firstly, there is no healthy meal plan that works for everyone. At different stages of your life, you will need different levels of nutrients, but there are some general principles that you can follow, and then adjust as necessary. Here’s how to create a healthy meal plan for the week.

The Backbone of Your Healthy Meal Plan

For the vast majority of adults, these practical tips should be the backbone of your meal plan:

  • A range of fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grain carbohydrates (brown rice, brown bread, millet, bulgar wheat, etc)
  • Fermented food such as kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut
  • Unsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil, rapeseed oil, avocados, and nuts
  • Two portions of oily fish such as salmon per week (or nuts and seeds if you don’t eat fish)
  • A handful of nuts and seeds a day
  • Aim for 30g of fiber a day
  • Eat a range of beans and pulses (such as chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, and lentils)
  • Drink approximately 8 glasses of water a day[1]

Calorie Counting

A calorie is the energy required to raise the temperature of 1g water from 14.5 to 15.5°Celsius. This is calculated in a laboratory, by burning the food. However, the food is not “burnt” in our bodies, and people’s metabolism and energy expenditure vary, so it’s a very rough estimate.

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The absorption and, therefore, how much energy is available for you to use, is also affected by how the food is processed. An example of this is sweetcorn. If you grind it down into a powder and make a tortilla, you will absorb far more calories than if you eat whole sweetcorn kernels. Instead, you will see most of the kernels untouched, in the toilet!

Another concern with calories is that instead of thinking about nutrient quality, it promotes prioritizing quantity. For example, there is a huge difference in the number of nutrients you could consume in 500 calories of fruit and vegetables, versus 500 calories of ice cream.

Also the number of calories you need varies according to so many factors, such as age, gender, lifestyle, and activity level, that it is hard to accurately predict exactly how many you need. Instead, I prefer to recommend a general principle of how to balance your plate and a reminder to eat mindfully when you are physically hungry, not because of an emotional trigger.

How to Balance Your Plate

When thinking of your healthy meal plan, for each meal your plate should contain approximately:

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  • Fruit and vegetables (1/2 plate)
  • Whole grains (1/4 plate)
  • Lean protein (1/4 plate)
  • A spoon of unsaturated oil

This will help you when you think of each meal to work out what to include and approximate portion sizes.

An Example Day

Breakfast

  • Overnight oats, with chia seeds, quinoa and milk or fortified plant based milk
  • A piece of fruit

Snack

  • A handful of mixed nuts

Lunch

  • Grilled tofu with a mixed salad and bulgar wheat
  • A piece of fruit

Snack

  • Apple slices with nut butter

Dinner

  • Chicken / tofu / salmon with miso brown rice and spring greens
  • OR vegetable curry, daal, and brown rice
  • OR stuffed aubergine with mixed vegetables and millet or quinoa
  • A piece of fruit

How to Adjust Your Meal Plan

There are certain phases when more or less nutrients are needed, so it is important to consider your changing needs.

When You’re Pregnant

During your pregnancy, you should limit oily fish to once a week, and only 2 tuna steaks or 4 medium sized cans of tuna per week, because of the risk of pollution.

You should also avoid the following food groups:

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  • Raw or undercooked eggs
  • Unpasteurized cheese
  • Raw or undercooked meat
  • Pâté
  • Swordfish, shark, and marlin
  • Homemade ice-cream with raw egg
  • Soft-serve ice cream from vans or kiosks
  • Vitamin A supplements
  • Liquorice root
  • Alcohol

When You’re Breastfeeding

While you are breastfeeding, your body needs more calcium (1250mg), selenium (70mcg), and iodine (200mcg). Ensure that you include these in your meal plan.

When Going Through Menopause

Menopause

changes your long-term risk of disease, so it is important to focus on items that help support bone and heart health. The framework above already sets out a diet to support long term heart health, but for bone health aim for:

  • 1200mg calcium per day
  • High-quality protein at every meal
  • Foods rich in vitamin K
  • Foods rich in phosphorus
  • Foods rich in magnesium

Organizing Your Shopping

Once you have completed your healthy meal plan for the week, you can save the ingredients that you regularly need to an online shopping list, in order to make repeat ordering simpler. Some recipe books also now have a QR code so that you can easily synchronize the ingredients needed with your online shopping.

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Try to eat seasonal fruit and vegetables where possible, but canned beans, frozen, dried, and freeze dried fruit make great substitutes for fresh, retaining most of the nutrients.

Final Thoughts

Creating a healthy meal plan for the week may be daunting at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’ll become a fun addition to your weekly planning, and one that will ultimately improve your overall lifestyle. Try to use the general feedback above and adapt it to your own specific needs. Enjoy looking for new and exciting recipes to include in your plan!

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Featured photo credit: Ello via unsplash.com

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