It’s easy to understand why some people may be attracted to the idea of jumpstarting a weight loss plan with something that sounds as chic as a “detox.” Dubost says these so-called detoxes have been made famous by celebrities like Beyoncé trying to lose weight in advance of awards shows.
But mixing maple and palm syrups with lemon juice, water, pepper, and sometimes salt water, doesn’t really do anything to improve your health. “There is not any scientific evidence that it provides health benefits,” Dubost says of these cleanses. “The side effects of going through this five- to seven-day process would put me on edge.”
In fact, she said the effects could be quite the opposite of healthy. “You know how you feel when you skip lunch and get a headache? You are likely to be tired and have a lack of energy. You may not want to exercise.”
And as far as the cleanse part? “How is this going to clean out your gastrointestinal tract?” Dubost wonders. “There would be no fiber to help move things out. This is just a fad diet, or a quick fix.”
“What do they mean by ‘detox'?” she asks. “Getting rid of toxins from food? From the environment? Your body naturally cleanses itself. Your gastrointestinal tract, liver, and kidneys all help you detox.”
So, forget full-on “master” cleanses. What about claims that drinking a few glasses of lemon water, while on a normal diet, can help you detox?
“If you enjoy the taste of lemon water over plain water, then this would be a good way of drinking more water,” says Sheth. “The added benefits of lemon water include vitamin C, antioxidants, and potassium.”
Instead of wasting your time on an unproven fad, Dubost says that the best way to clean out your gastrointestinal tract is to drink lots of water and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
You need more than just water, she stresses. You need fiber and nutrients, too. “That’s a better cleansing approach if you’re going to use the world ‘cleanse.’”
If you insist on trying the sort of cleanses made famous by Hollywood, check with a doctor first. “Your body has enough nutrients to sustain you over a short period of time, but you’re entering the danger zone if you’re going five to seven days [without food]. That’s just putting your body through stress that it doesn’t need.”
Cleanses are based on the incorrect assumption that the body needs help getting rid of toxins. Not only are these diets ineffective, they also can be dangerous. According to the American Heart Association, a recent study found that yo-yo dieting increased the risk of heart attacks in women by 3.5 times. Weight cycling also increased the risk of dying from coronary artery heart disease by 66 percent.
Be wary of anything that severely limits what you can and cannot eat or drink, or dramatically restricts how many calories you consume. The best way to lose weight is to lose weight slowly, which according to the CDC means no more than one or two pounds per week. Think about how long it took you to gain weight. It will typically take you that the same amount of time, or longer, to lose it.