The ideal time to hit reset on a lot of things in your life, especially — after all that holiday indulging — your diet. And programs that claim to help you do just that through a “detox” or “cleansing” regimen remain popular, despite a marked lack of evidence that they actually work.
Most plans are grounded in the idea that flushing toxins out of your system, often through a liquid-only diet with plenty of water, and giving your digestive system a break from its regular role, can bring about miraculous results, from weight loss to more energy to glowing skin. The only problem, experts say: There is zero evidence to support any of that.
What Experts Think About Liquid Cleanses for Weight Loss
“A lot of times, juices will propose to have a lot of vitamins or minerals in them,” says Gans. “But it’s not enough to sustain an individual long term. Most of them lack in protein, fiber, fat, and calories.” Those are all nutrients that trigger satiety, and therefore help prevent overeating and weight gain. “It is extremely difficult for the average person to meet his or her nutritional needs in less than 1,200 calories a day,” Gans continues. “Most juice cleanses are 800 calories or fewer.”
Additionally, even juices without added sugar tend to be high on the glycemic index, which means your blood glucose levels will spike and then fall dramatically after consuming them, particularly without other food in your stomach to blunt this effect. That can lead to hunger and fatigue. Also, says Gans, “If you’re on them too long, you’ll be missing out on important nutrients, which can put you at risk for malnutrition.
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The Takeaway: Should You Try a Detox or Cleanse to Lose Weight?
It’s possible to do a cleanse safely if you follow the guidelines recommended by experts — but keep in mind that a few days of bottled beverages isn’t going to magically cure your health issues or make you 10 pounds lighter.
First, pick a reasonable timeframe for your cleanse — no more than three days. Make sure you’re hydrating properly throughout the duration of it, and eat if you feel faint or nauseous. Beware any plan that restricts major food groups or promotes a singular food. It’s a good idea to get your physician’s approval as well.
A healthier way to think about resetting yourself is to lose the restrictive mindset and instead focus on foods you can add to your diet for their nutritional benefits. Incorporating fresh veggies, like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and spinach, into your diet has proven benefits to help your body run properly — including ridding itself of waste products.