I recently started a 21-day whole-foods detox plan (what-up day 6!). When I shared that I was considering taking some time off from working out to do a cleanse, this sparked a serious debate amongst many of my health conscious friends.
I believe in detoxing (as evidenced by the fact that I’m doing one), but there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to cleanse your bod.
(Disclaimer: I use the terms detox and cleanse interchangeably. For my purposes and the purposes of this article I consider them to be the same.)
A detox is NOT a quick fix. If your goal is to drop 20 pounds in a week, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Losing 20 pounds in a week is NOT healthy. And, even if you do lose that much, you’re highly likely to put it right back on, because you aren’t really fixing any of the habits that got you there in the first place.
A detox IS a kickstart, an internal tune-up and an opportunity to clean the slate and start fresh. It’s a great way to cleanse your body of all the toxins you’re exposed to every day, the ones that get stored in your fat cells. It’s also a great way to identify food sensitivities.
How do you answer the question: Should You Detox?
So, first things first – is a cleanse right for you? Here are some questions to consider:
Are you pooping 1-2 times every day?
You should be... if not, a cleanse might be right for you.
Are you sluggish and tired throughout the day and need sugar, caffeine, or some processed carbs to pick you up?
Eek! Red flag! You should not need stimulants to feel alive on a regular basis. A cleanse might be right for you.
Does your brain feel foggy? Like it’s hard to think clearly or for long periods of time?
Red flag! Brain fog can be a sign of dehydration or a food sensitivity. Up your water intake first, and if that doesn't solve the problem, a cleanse might be right for you.
What is your goal – do you just want to lose weight or is this a kickstart for a new way of eating and living?
If your goal is to lose weight, scroll back up to the top and re-read that part. If you want a kickstart, a cleanse might be right for you.
Second, what to look for in a cleanse...
Can you eat?
There are tons of foods that are both naturally detoxifying and nourishing to the body. A detox, especially one running longer than 3 days, should include a meal plan that includes organic whole foods – lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, healthy oils and other fats, and lean sources of protein.
I strongly encourage you to find a detox that includes eating 3 healthy meals a day. There are literally hundreds of detox plans out there that let you do this. If you want to learn more about what I’m doing, you can check it out here.
How many days of a liquid-only diet is there?
When I was in college, I did a 7-day juice fast. I did it without any real research – I think I read about juice fasting in some Buddhist book or something and it sounded good, so I loaded up my shopping cart with loads of cranberry juice, tomato juice, and vegetable broth. Somehow, I made it through the week, but I’ve never been able to replicate it (and I’ve tried).
And you know why? Because juice fasts aren’t sustainable. Sure, if you’re at a Buddhist monastery where all you’re doing is meditating all day, you can probably survive on restricted calories. But for the rest of us, you need more calories to FUNCTION. When your calorie intake is limited for an extended period of time, your body starts breaking down muscle, NOT fat – this is detrimental, not beneficial.
If you’re interested in a juice fast, I recommend a maximum of 3 days for a juice-only fast. From there, add in healthy, supportive, whole foods and supplement with juices. Also, aim for vegetable juices to better maintain your blood sugar and energy levels.
Are supplements included?
One thing you don’t want to do when you’re detoxing is fill your body back up with chemicals. In truth, you don’t really need supplements to cleanse your system, but they can help push the process along more efficiently and quickly. If you’re using supplements, make sure what you’re using is all natural and gives your body the vitamins and minerals it needs without added chemical fillers.
Have you talked to your doctor or another professional?
If you’re not familiar with the detox process, I strongly recommend that you talk to your doctor or another health professional about it before you get started. There is tons of support available, you don’t need to go through it alone. If done incorrectly, detoxing can be detrimental to your health, so do your due diligence.
I want to hear from you, what crazy cleanses have you tried? Have they worked? Would you do it again?