A detoxification diet can be a great way to cleanse your body of unwanted toxins and boost your metabolism. However, there is a wrong and a right way to go about it, and unfortunately, recent fads like the “Master Cleanse,” “Fruit Flush” or the “Amazing Hydration Diet,” which has even been linked to water intoxication and brain damage, have given detox diets a bad name.
Experts caution that long-term fasts may lead to the breakdown of muscle mass and a nutrient deficiency, as not eating enough weakens the body’s immune system and upsets blood sugar, sodium and potassium levels.
But, good detoxification doesn’t deprive the body of the nutrients it needs; it nourishes it while also eliminating unnecessary things from your diet, such as sugar, gluten or saturated fats.
When deciding on whether or not to follow a particular detox diet, make sure you consult with your physician and do adequate research on the possible side effects and health issues that are linked to each one.
In general, it is best to steer clear of detox diets that require you to eliminate all solids from your diet, as these have the potential to severely damage your health. Moreover, the weight loss you achieve through such cleanses tends to be very short-lived.
If you have decided that a detox is right for you, below are a few things to keep in mind in order to get the most out of your detoxification program!
Never Starve Yourself
While eating less is a good idea for the majority of people following a detox, it is never a good idea to starve yourself on a diet of lemon juice and water or fruit and vegetable juices. Your body needs balanced meals that contain proteins, fats, fiber and carbohydrates in order to function properly.
In fact, consuming insufficient calories for a period of 48 to 72 hours can even cause your body to go into starvation mode. When this happens, your metabolism slows down and your body will hold onto fat instead of burning it.
Avoid Going Cold Turkey
Many people who decide to follow a detox diet try to do too much too fast, and switch from consuming large amounts of coffee, refined sugars, saturated fats and alcohol, to a diet that consists of little more than a few vegetables and fruits.
This is a huge change for your body to make in such a short amount of time, and you will likely experience severe withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, many people quit their detox before it’s ever really begun, because they simply can’t function in their day-to-day life.
Instead, start weaning yourself off those unhealthy habits at least a month before you begin your detox diet. Cut down on drinking, smoking and caffeine, and start using less sugar and fats in your cooking so that by the time you start the actual detox, your body has already started to adjust.
It’s also a good idea to research different foods and meals that you can eat during your detox, and start stocking your fridge and cupboards with wholesome and healthy foods. This will make it easier for you to stick to the diet plan once you get started.
Don’t Rely Solely on Supplements For Your Nutrients
Vitamin and mineral supplements should be just that, a supplement. Too many people rely too heavily on supplements for their nutrition during a detox, mainly because it’s easier than having to research well-balanced and healthy meals.
However, research shows that your body absorbs antioxidants, minerals and vitamins much more efficiently from the food you eat, so even if you’re taking handfuls of every imaginable vitamin each morning, you may still have a nutrient deficiency if you aren’t consuming enough of the right foods.
Don’t Skimp on Sleep
Sleep is an extremely important part of a detoxification. Lack of sleep can cause weight gain by altering hormone levels and affecting your body’s ability to process carbohydrates. Additionally, sleep deprivation is linked to hypertension and increased stress levels. Unfortunately, as important as it is, sleep is something that is often neglected in our fast paced society.
If you have trouble getting to sleep at night, try to eliminate alcohol and caffeine completely from your diet and have a set bedtime that you try to stick to. Avoiding technology such as computers, TV and mobile phones before going to bed can also improve your quality of sleep.
Although you will likely have a number of health drinks and protein shakes to consume during your detox, it is also important to remember to drink water. Drinking plenty of water is one of the most effective ways to flush toxins from your body and keep your organs healthy.
Get Plenty of Exercise
Along with eating the right foods and cutting out bad foods, it is extremely important to incorporate an effective exercise program into your routine. This boosts your metabolism and helps your body to start burning off excess fat.
Ideally, you should get at least an hour of exercise each day. If you can’t manage that, aim for 30 minutes and try to be more active in your day-to-day life by taking the stairs and walking or bicycling to work whenever possible.
Don’t Reward Yourself With a Food Binge at The End of a Detox
Although successfully completing a detox program is certainly an accomplishment, binging on alcohol or unhealthy foods at the end of it will undo all the progress you made during your cleanse. Find other ways to reward yourself, such as shopping for some new workout gear or going on a weekend trip.
Of course you can enjoy the occasional treat and have a drink with friends every now and then, but ultimately, the goal of detoxifying your body is to become healthier and happier in the long-term. Returning to your old habits after a detox is not going to help you accomplish that.
During the last week of your detox, it is important to think of ways to incorporate your new eating style into your everyday routine, so that you are prepared to make the right decisions when the time comes.