With New Year’s right around the corner and with the drinking that will inevitably ensue this evening, you may already be considering what you are going to do tomorrow or the next day to counteract the effects of the holiday season and possibly, the past year. If you are like most people, you are probably feeling a little bit softer, fatigued and a just a little bit…sludgey. You may be considering a cleanse or detox to cancel out the partying and all the indulgences. With the New Year around the corner, a fresh start can be very appealing and you may have the best intentions on getting svelte again through a detox or a cleanse…but what is the best option? There are so many! Are they even worth it? With all the conflicting information and mountains of advertising, it can not only be confusing, but downright stressful to figure out who is telling the truth and who is trying to rob you of the last few dollars you have in your checking account after holiday shopping. You may be wondering…what is the deal with cleansing??
So let’s start with the basics…
What is the point of cleansing/detoxing or “What is all the shootin’ for?”
Good Question! Our bodies are pretty good at self-cleaning on their own, but not when they are faced with the unnatural impurities that come along with our society. With the environmental toxins (air pollution, pesticides, herbicides, chemical cleaners, parabens and chemicals in self-care products, cigarette smoke), toxins in our food supply (preservatives, chemicals, artificial sweeteners, chemicalized sugars, hydrogenated fats, artificial coloring) and substances that tax our system and cause weight gain and inflammation in our bodies (sugars, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, alcohol, hydrogenated and saturated fats), our bodies can start get pretty out of whack even over the course of a few weeks, never mind a year, or a lifetime. Toxins are stored in the fat cells of our bodies and hold on pretty tight. If you aren’t detoxing your body every once in a while and creating a happy inner eco-system, it can be difficult to rid yourself of the excess fat. The same is true of vitamin levels. The toxins in our environment and the food we eat can be taxing on our body and therefore sap our body of crucial vitamins and minerals. If our vitamin levels aren’t up to par, our body may think we are starving even though we are not. Because of this, metabolism is slowed and we hold on to excess fat. Additionally, if our adrenal glands (which regulate our hormone levels) are exhausted because of stress and overconsumption of sugar, caffeine, and alcohol, the efficiency of our metabolism is also compromised. Ideally, when we detox, we should be creating an influx of vitamins, minerals and fiber while giving our system a little bit of a vacation in order to clean itself out. We give it lots of clean and gentle fuel while getting rid of the toxins and sludge so our system can balance itself and run more efficiently, and in doing so, get rid of the excess weight and increase energy levels. The first couple days, you may feel fatigued, head-achey and even experience cold systems. This is the body detoxifying and unhooking an addiction to caffeine. Stick with it and you will feel renewed and rejuvenated after the first few days.
Will a cleanse result in long-term weight-loss?
A cleanse on it’s own will not result in long term weight-loss. A cleanse or detox, when done correctly, can be an excellent introduction to healthier eating. It basically “cleans out the filters” of your body and because of this, you may start from a stronger mental and physical place when embarking on a health journey. This is partially because you will be putting clean food into a clean and balanced system, so you can avoid the pitfalls most people experience when starting a “lifestyle change.” Your salt, sugar and carb cravings will be less intense or may dissolve completely. Your vitamin and energy levels will increase so you have more energy to approach daily exercise. You may experience a jumpstart in weight-loss because of the calorie deficit created by detoxing as well as fat loss from ridding your body of toxins. Because of this, you may already feel invested, so your likelihood
of long-term success may increase. However, if you participate and a cleanse and promptly return to the way you ate before your cleanse, you can fully expect for your body to return to it’s pre-cleanse state pretty much immediately. This is why a cleanse can be a wonderful start to something more structured, like a health-coaching program but is not a self-standing solution.
Should I do a “commercial cleanse”?
There are enough uses of the word “cleanse” and “detox” attached to pure hullaballoo to feel like you are having a panic attack in a crowded mall on Dec 23rd. Some cleanses can be beneficial, some are pointless and some can be downright dangerous. Many colon cleanses and the master cleanse (think lemonade with cumin and maple syrup), while instigating weight-loss can throw your inner eco-system, your digestion, your immunity and your metabolism completely out of balance, and you may wind up having to make up for it after the detox. They lack the vitamins, minerals and calories for safe results and can actually sap your body of the vitamins and minerals it needs to function as well as slow down your metabolism from too few calories for a prolonged time. There are a ton of powder, pills, and fakey juice substance cleanses out there that cost a TON but the jury is out on their efficacy. Natural juicing cleanses like Organic Avenue Love Cleanse or the Blue Print Cleanse will definitely boost vitamin levels and instigate weight-loss but are only useful as a very short-lived jumpstart to something more structured. Plus, they can be very expensive, around $60 a day for 3-5 day juice cleanses. That is between $180 and $300 That is the cost of a top of the line juicer!!!! You could spend the same amount on a Nutri-bullet ($100) or a mid-level juicer, a book on juicing, a book on raw foods, a grocery cart filled with fruits and veggies and create your own cleanse while increasing your knowledge! Or just start green-juicing once a day, which will lead to much for sustainable long-term health and weight-loss results. If you have the money to burn and simply want the convenience and don’t want to have to think about it, a 3 day juice cleanse leading INTO a structured program (or if you already have super healthy habits), is fine. I, however, always encourage my clients to choose the sustainable option that leads to healthier habits every day.
So, what is the ideal cleanse or detox?
In my opinion, something that is actually DOABLE that doesn’t make you want to jump off a bridge. If you reach too high in a moment of super-hero level motivation, you may be asking for failure. A week of juicing or smoothying and eating only veggies can be really difficult for most people. It all depends on how committed you are, what your plans are for continued success and what fits into your life. Ideally, you want to create an influx of vitamins and fiber and take out anything that taxes the system. The best way to increase vitamins is to drastically increase fresh fruits and vegetables and to take out sugars, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, and caffeine. Here are a few options, depending on what you can feasibly handle.
BEGINNER’S CLEANSE–Take out coffee and caffeinated beverages and replace with hot water with lemon and water or seltzer. Eat three fruits a day and veggies with every meal. Abstain from drinking alcohol for at least a week. Cut out dairy except for eggs and only eat food that will eventually perish (no processed or packaged foods). Cut out treats. You can still include regular exercise.
MID-LEVEL-Same as the first, but additionally cut out protein. Eat only around 3/4 a cup non-glutenous whole grains at every meal with veggies or fruit. Veggies can be cooked in vegetable broth, baked or roasted, but not with oils or fats. Juice or smoothie for one of your meals a day. Stick to low-impact exercise, like walking or vinyasa yoga.
PRO-LEVEL-Same as the first two but additionally cut out grains. You will be consuming soups made from fresh vegetables and vegetable broth, smoothies, juices, and veggies veggies veggies. Essentially, you are eating vegetables and fruit. You can use seasonings and a little bit of Tamari or soy sauce for flavoring but no oils. Stick to walking and restorative yoga.
I hope this was really helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to ask below.
Tell me tribe. What are your plans for health journey in the New Year!?
Rock On and Be Well,