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Read This Before Trying A Detox Diet

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We’re a bit salty about detox diets here at Coach. While there are toxins you certainly want to avoid ingesting, detox regimes of the types you’ll find in magazines tend to involve a period of drastic calorie reduction. As far as we’re concerned, these won’t cleanse you of anything except some weight and water.

All the same, what do we know? We’re journalists, not experts with the appropriate qualifications. But we do know some of those, so we turned to dietitian Ro Huntriss (@DietitianRo (opens in new tab)), a consultant dietitian and expert for the TerriAnn 123 Diet Plan (opens in new tab), to assess a sample three-day detox from a women’s magazine.

The plan involved replacing breakfast, lunch and snacks with juices, soups and smoothies. Breakfast would just be a cup of lemon water plus a green juice, and then you’d have a smoothie mid-morning and soup for lunch, before eating a protein-rich, low-carb dinner like fish with vegetables. You could also add in a cup of miso soup between lunch and dinner, if feeling particularly hungry, and it was advised that you shouldn’t do intense exercise while following the diet plan.

Now over to Huntriss for more on the pros and cons of this approach.

Are there any risks to following this detox plan?

The diet presented appears to be a very low-calorie, low-carbohydrate diet. That means it is not nutritionally complete; however, it is unlikely to pose any significant risks if you follow it for just three days.

There are certainly some who should avoid doing this even for three days. That includes women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. And anyone with a health condition such as diabetes should consult their physician before embarking on such a diet.

How does it help you to lose weight?

People following this plan will lose weight for two reasons. First, the calories consumed on this plan are less than what any adult would normally burn, therefore fat stores will be used for energy and weight loss will result. Second, when limiting carbohydrate in the diet, you’ll lose water weight from the body. When carbohydrate is reintroduced, though, water weight is regained.

Are there any positives to following this plan?

You could argue that it does have positives as it will create weight loss. Furthermore, healthy foods are recommended in the plan, such as fruit, vegetables and nuts.

Does it promote long-term healthy eating habits?

In short, no. Diets like this can be used to kick-start weight loss, but the choices you make following the three-day “cleanse” will be crucial to your success. It must also be mentioned that this “cleanse” is unlikely to “cleanse” or “detoxify” anything. Having a healthy, well-balanced diet, staying hydrated, keeping active and having a functioning liver will do all the detoxification you need.

How To Lose Weight While Eating Healthily

We never like to criticise something without offering an alternative, so if you’re looking to change your diet to lose weight in a healthy way, we have a couple of options for you to try.

The first is this four-week weight loss meal for women plan from award-winning dietitian Azmina Govindji. The plan is made up of balanced meals and doesn’t exclude any major food groups, so you hit all your recommended weekly nutritional intake values while keeping the calorie intake low at around 1,300-1,400 calories a day to help you lose weight.

Another option is this seven-day high-fibre meal plan created by the British Nutrition Foundation. The focus is on eating more than 30g of fibre a day, but there are many other benefits to the plan, including the fact you easily get five portions of fruit and veg a day and avoid too much added sugar. 

It’s not a weight-loss meal plan per se, but it’s a very healthy meal plan and when used in combination with an active lifestyle can certainly help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, while never feeling too hungry because the high fibre intake keeps you satiated.


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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.