Are Detox Diets and Cleanses Effective?

detox diet

Is Cleanses Worth It?

Cleanses or detoxes are probably the hottest trend in the health industry. This is because cleanses claim to not only help you lose weight but also flush toxins from your body, increase your energy, boost your immune system, and just about everything else you can possibly imagine. That sounds like the “magic pill” of nutrition, but are they seriously effective?

Breaking down cleanses – The Benefits

In most instances a cleanse usually involves a period of fasting in which only vegetable and fruit juices are consumed (of course there are other types but that is the type we will talk about). While juicing can be done at home, there are also a ton of very expensive detox products on the market as well.

Juicing is a great way to get an assortment of vitamins and minerals as well as getting your daily serving allotment of fruit and vegetable.

Research has indicated that eating 2.5 cups of vegetables AND fruit a day (with vegetables being the most important) is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease; most Americans aren’t consuming anywhere near this amount.

Do Cleanses WorkLikewise, because you are under a stark calorie consumption compared to your normal diet (usually you consume 1000-1200 calories when cleansing estimated by New York Times) you can experience significant weight loss.

But be warned, this is a great thing if you can maintain that weight loss after your cleanse is over, but more often than not though that weight and more is regained (Hensrud et al. 1994); the quintessential diet yo-yoing takes place!

If you can manage your weight loss then cleanses could be an excellent way to lose weight, but bad food choices and minimal self-control could be the reason for your possible weight predicament in the first place.

While your body does a really great job of ridding itself of toxins (e.g. the liver), cleanses claim to rid the body of the rest of the toxins we consume. The foods we consume can be strife with toxins due to pesticides, fertilization, or even contamination from food packaging.

That being said, it is not scientifically backed that cleanses remove these toxins. The benefits attributed to removing toxins could actually be the result of just avoiding solid fats and highly processed foods that are normally consumed in modern America (which is always good) making us feel better.

Lastly, cleanses can make people feel extremely energized and more focused which could be due to increased nutrient load or the placebo effect! The placebo effect can be very powerful and if it helps you achieve your results then more power to you.

Cleanses: Lack of Evidence

Although there are many claims of amazing health benefits, they are mostly unproven by science.

Such a caloric restrictive diet can have you feeling weak and meek (as would be expected). This is also a very hard nutrition plan to stick to even if it’s short-term. This is because not only are you mainly fasting but you give up all the foods you normally enjoy, which can be hard for many people (which can lead to the binge of all binges)!

Don’t get me wrong I think that if anything can help you lose weight, keep it off, and get you in overall better health I’m all for it but there is a lack of scientific evidence that backs the claims of many detox products.

Not only that, unless you juice yourself, some of these products can be very expensive; I don’t want you to throw your money away.

Wrap Up

If you still want to give a detox diet a try, make sure to consult your doctor first because there can be some dietary limitations due to this diet (certain minerals and possible protein deficiency).

Although I don’t recommend a severe calorie-restrictive diet like a normal cleanse, adding fruit and vegetable juices into your diet can provide you with a plethora of minerals and nutrients, increase your immune system, and increase your energy/mental focus.

Moderation is always key!

Don’t get carried away with cleanses or juicing in general. If you still want to try a cleanse, try it for a very short term to see how you react.

The best diet is a healthy combination of vegetables and quality proteins to help you lose weight and manage it indefinitely. Fad diets come and go, the key is to maintain your weight loss and keep it sustainable.

More Detoxifying Information:

WebMD – Liver Cleansing
Huffington Post – Do Juice Cleanses Work?
WikiHow – Detox


Hensrud DD, Weinsier RL, Darnell BE & Hunter GR (1994) A prospective study of weight maintenance in obese subjects reduced to normal weight without weight-loss training. Am J Clin Nutr 60:688-694.e!

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Josh is the founder of DIY Active - your at home fitness source! He enjoys blending the latest science and expert advice with health practices to help you exercise smarter at home!
Josh Anderson
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