Detox Diets: Fad or Fabulous?


The holidays have been over for a while. But you may still be feeling their effects. Maybe the holidays left you a few pounds heavier. Maybe you’re just feeling tired and a little rundown. That could be why so many people are thinking about detoxing right now. If you’re like me, you probably know someone who’s on a detox diet, or a cleanse, or an elimination diet. You might even be thinking about doing one yourself—or in the middle of one.

Detox diets are touted as a way to rid your body of toxins. And many are also marketed as a way to lose some weight. So it’s not hard to see why people would be drawn to them—especially this time of the year. They seem like they might be a good way to get back on a healthy track after the holiday detour.

There are lots of different detox diets to choose from. But they share some things in common. Almost all of them have you give up caffeine, alcohol, and added sugar. More strict diets have you give up on food altogether and just drink lots of liquids—at least for a few days. Others tell you to avoid processed foods and stick to fresh fruits and vegetables. Some recommend added herbs and supplements.

These diets are meant to be short-term. The goal is to flush the toxins from your body and get it back on the right track. It certainly sounds tempting. I mean, who wouldn’t want to get rid of toxins in their body—and lose weight in the process!

But here’s the thing: there is no scientific evidence that these diets do in fact remove toxins from the body. And there is also no scientific evidence that the body needs help getting rid of toxins. Our bodies are actually designed to get rid of toxins naturally. That’s what your liver and kidneys are for. So these diets likely aren’t doing any real detoxifying. As for weight loss, they may help you lose a few pounds. But it probably won’t last. Once you start eating more normally again, you’ll likely gain the weight right back.

As for other drawbacks, you’ll of course be hungry. And you may also feel weak, have less energy, get dizzy, and experience headaches. Plus, these diets can be dangerous. You may not be getting enough nutrients, including protein, vitamins, and minerals.

So on balance, detox diets are not all that they’re cracked up to be. But we don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water. Some elements of detox diets are worth saving. Things like:

  • Avoiding processed foods
  • Cutting back on things like alcohol and added sugar
  • Drinking plenty of fluids, and
  • Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables

These are all elements of a healthy diet, along with lean protein, low-fat dairy, and whole grains. So rather than opting for a drastic detox, embrace a healthy, well-balanced diet. Nourish your body, don’t deprive it. And treat your diet as one element of healthy living. Along with a healthy diet, get regular exercise and plenty of sleep. That’s the best way to drop those pesky pounds. And it’s also the best way to feel better for the long-term.