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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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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss for Beginners (A How-to Guide)

Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss for Beginners (A How-to Guide)

Intermittent fasting weight loss is a type of diet that’s rapidly growing in popularity and becoming the way to lose weight. Scientists and nutrition experts like it, too. New books and articles on the topic are being published daily. Intermittent fasting is also popular with followers of the Paleo diet since our ancestors appear to have eaten this way for thousands of years.

I’ve been following this type of diet myself for 2 years. Doing so helped me lose and keep off 70 pounds without ever having to count calories, limit carbohydrates, or eat 6 to 7 meals a day.

This article teaches you all about intermittent fasting weight loss and details why it is one of the best weight loss diet hacks around. Once you finish, you will be able to implement it into your diet and experience the benefits it offers almost immediately.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

As you may have figured from its name, intermittent fasting weight loss is a diet plan where you set fasting periods during the day. This is usually between 16-20 consecutive hours, but it can be as little as 12 hours or as much as 24 hours (or even 36 hours).

While fasting you can eat and drink low calorie or calorie-free foods. Think coffee, tea, water, and vegetables.

The more time you spend fasting every day, the better your results. You can do these fasts as often as you like. Again, the more often you do so, the better[1].

Getting Started With Intermittent Fasting

Following this diet plan is super simple. All you have to do is choose a period of time during the day that you will fast. This should be between 16-20 hours.

The longer you fast each day, the better. Don’t worry about calorie restriction or measuring carbohydrates. Just focus on going about your day until it’s time to eat.

It’s best to choose a set period of time to conduct your fast. I like to fast from 8 PM to 4 PM the following afternoon. I’ll then have my first meal of the day and a snack or two a few hours later. Once 8 o’clock rolls around, it’s back to fasting.

My experience with intermittent fasting is that it’s best to start with a 16 hour fast (i.e. 8 PM one evening to 12 PM the next day) for the first 1-2 weeks. Once you are comfortable with this schedule, you can increase the amount of time you spend fasting. Do this by adding 30 minutes to each fast until you get to where you are fasting for 20 hours at a time.

You don’t have to fast every day in the beginning either. You may be more comfortable breaking in slowly with 2 or 3 days per week, or trying alternate day fasting. Add additional days of intermittent fasting as you become more comfortable with this style of eating.

Intermittent Fasting Schedules

There are several different fasting schedules you can choose from when you start an intermittent fasting diet. Here are some of the most popular.

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The 16/8 Method

This method of fasting involves fasting every day for 14-16 hours and eating during an 8-10 hour window. Many people who are getting started with intermittent fasting will find this the easiest schedule to keep. You can eat your last meal around 8 PM and not eat again until noon the next day, for example. This sounds simple, as you’re really only skipping breakfast, but you’re actually fasting for 16 hours in this case![2]

16/8 Method of Intermittent Fasting

    The 5:2 Method

    This fasting method involves eating normally five days each week and restricting calorie intake to 500-600 calories for two (non-consecutive) days. On fasting days, women should eat around 500 calories, and men should eat around 600 calories.

    5:2 Diet for Intermittent Fasting

      Alternate-Day Fasting

      As its name suggests, this type of intermittent fasting involves fasting every other day. As with the 5:2 method, some people find it easier to eat 500-600 calories instead of going on a full fast each fasting day.

      Alternate Day Fasting
        The Warrior Diet

        This type of fasting is considered by many to be the most difficult and follows a 20/4 eating schedule. For most of the day, you limit your food intake to small amounts of fruits and vegetables (low-calorie foods). For four hours each day, you eat large-portioned meals to get in your day’s calories.

        Because of the intense nature of this method, it’s only recommended for those who have been on an intermittent fasting diet for a while and feel comfortable with it.

        The Warrior Diet

          Tips to Make Intermittent Fasting Easier

          1. Drink Plenty of Water

          Squeeze a little lemon or lime juice into your water to help get rid of any cravings you experience. You can also drink coffee, tea, or other calorie-free beverages. After a few weeks, you will find that intermittent fasting keeps you from craving sugar entirely.

          2. Take in Caffeine in the Morning and Early Afternoon

          The caffeine in coffee and tea may actually make intermittent fasting weight loss a little easier since it’s good for curbing your appetite. Be careful not to overindulge, as this may lead to you feeling a little too wired. I also recommend these natural energy boosting tips to keep you going during the day.

          3. Avoid Artificially Flavored Drinks

          One type of calorie-free drink that should be avoided are diet sodas and other beverages that use artificial sweeteners like Splenda and Sweet & Low. Studies show that the can actually stimulate your appetite[3] like a drink that contains sugar and causes you to overeat.

          4. Don’t Gorge at Your First Meal

          The first meal after your fast should be the amount of food you typically eat. Binging will only make you feel awful and diminish the benefits you get from the fast.

          To avoid this, try creating meal plans, at least for the first few weeks. This will help you get into the rhythm of eating regularly portioned meals during your eating window.

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          5. Minimize Processed Carbohydrates and Sugars

          While intermittent fasting does make it possible to eat a little looser than normal, you should still eat as little bread, pasta, rice, etc. as possible.

          Focus instead on eating protein from beef, fish, or pork, carbohydrates from vegetables, fruit, and sweet potatoes, and healthy fats from foods like almonds, avocados, fish, and olive oil.

          You can find some carb sources that will aid your weight loss journey here.

          How Intermittent Fasting Helps You Lose Weight

          Eating this way has many benefits with regard to weight loss. The first is that when you’re fasting, your body will be forced to use its stored body fat for energy. After several hours of not eating, your body will use up its sugar stores, which will cause it to start burning fat for energy, a process known as metabolic switching. 

          Mark Mattson, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins explains this effect in simple terms:

          “Intermittent fasting contrasts with the normal eating pattern for most Americans, who eat throughout their waking hours…If someone is eating three meals a day, plus snacks, and they’re not exercising, then every time they eat, they’re running on those calories and not burning their fat stores.”[4]

          Burning calories this way, instead of from the food you’re eating throughout the day, will help you experience significant weight loss, but specifically lose weight from any excess body fat you’re carrying.

          This means that you won’t just be thinner, but you will also look better and be much healthier than if you lose weight the old-fashioned way[5].

          Intermittent fasting can help optimize the release of the key fat-burning hormones in your body. This is especially true for the two most important hormones: human growth hormone (HGH) and insulin.

          Human growth hormone plays a key role in turning on your body’s fat-burning furnace so that it gets the calories you need to work and play from stored body fat. Studies show that fasting can significantly increase the production of HGH[6].

          The influence intermittent fasting has on insulin is just as impressive and possibly more important. Keeping your insulin levels low and steady is key to losing excess fat and keeping it off.

          Diets that are rich in processed carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice) and simple sugars (candy, cookies, and soda) have the opposite effect. They cause your insulin levels to rapidly spike and then crash every time you eat one of these foods. The net result of this phenomenon is that your body will store more of what you eat as excess body fat instead of burning it off as energy.

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          Chronically elevating your insulin levels like this can also lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other chronic health problems. Intermittent fasting easily solves this problem.

          One study found that men who participated in intermittent fasting had “dramatically lower insulin levels and significantly improved insulin sensitivity”[7].

          This happens because you’re not giving your body food, so it will not produce insulin, allowing insulin levels to balance out until you eat again. This helps your body stay in a calorie and fat-burning state. You’ll also find that it gives you more energy throughout the day.

          Another great weight loss benefit of intermittent fasting is that hunger pangs and cravings that may normally plague you throughout the day will be reduced, if not altogether eliminated. This is probably due to its ability to balance your insulin and blood sugar levels and, in turn, help correct other hormonal imbalances.

          Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss FAQs

          Now that you know what intermittent fasting is and how to get started, it’s time to answer your other questions.

          Below are answers to the questions frequently asked about intermittent fasting. These answers should help you and make getting started a lot easier.

          How Much Weight Will I Lose?

          The amount of weight you lose with fasting is determined by how often and long your fasts are, what you eat afterward, and other factors.

          One study published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that average weight loss on an intermittent fasting diet was around 9lbs after 12 months, and weight loss was most successful in those who strictly adhered to their chosen diet[8].

          Can I Work out While Fasting?

          Yes, you can. In fact, doing the right type of workout while fasting will help you lose weight faster and even build muscle.

          If you are a hardcore athlete who often exercises for an hour or more each day, intermittent fasting may not be the best choice for you as this amount of exercise requires fuel to keep you moving and build muscle. However, light to moderate intensity workouts 2 to 4 times a week should work with intermittent fasting.

          The best workouts to do while fasting for weight loss are strength training workouts. This means anything from standard strength training to kettlebell or body weight workouts. Combine these with lighter forms of exercise like walking, jogging, or yoga.

          You could also try this 30-Day Resistance Band Workout Challenge alongside your intermittent fasting diet. It will help you get into an exercise routine while easing into your new eating routine.

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          Focus on doing 3-4 total body exercises per workout with as little rest as possible between sets. Doing this will help you burn more calories during and after your workout. You’ll also build muscle, which will help you look and feel better as the weight comes off.

          Remember, exercising can increase hunger, so try working out in the hour or two right before you are scheduled to break your fast[9]. Your body will be primed for a meal, and your hunger won’t get the best of you.

          Won’t I Lose Muscle When I Fast?

          First of all, you aren’t fasting long enough for your body to start breaking down muscle for energy. You have, perhaps, hundreds of thousands of calories from your stored body fat to use before that will begin to happen.

          If you’re trying to build muscle while fasting, you’ll need to ensure you’re getting enough calories, especially through protein, at each meal between fasts.

          Is Fasting Safe?

          As long as you are healthy, not pregnant, and aren’t taking medications, fasting is safe. Like all diets, you should discuss it with your doctor before beginning an intermittent fasting diet.

          I also feel that it may not be smart to follow this type of diet when you’re especially stressed. Since this diet can be a little stress-inducing at first, doing so when you aren’t able to be relatively stress-free and rested probably isn’t a good idea.

          Are There Any Supplements I Can Take to Make Fasting Easier?

          As with any other weight loss plan, it’s a good idea to take a few nutritional supplements to make sure your daily requirements are met. This includes a once or twice daily multi-vitamin, fish oil, and vitamin D.I’ve also found taking 10 grams of branched-chain amino acids before and after my workouts really helps, too. They’re great for giving you more energy during your workout and decreasing post-workout muscle soreness.

          For supplements to specifically help with digestion, check out this article.

          The Bottom Line

          Now you know what intermittent fasting is and how it can help you lose weight quickly and safely. If you want to give it a try, find a fasting schedule that fits with your lifestyle, and give it a go.

          More About Intermittent Fasting

          Featured photo credit: Toa Heftiba via unsplash.com

          Reference

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