Do Detox Diets Work?

Do detox diets workFor years, people have been trying to find the diet or eating plan that is just right for them. Even as the publishing industry has fallen on hard times, diet books continue to sell extraordinarily well. As the obesity level in America continues to rise, there's even more concern about how to lose weight, how to lose it fast, and how to keep off the pounds.

While agreeing that it's important to maintain a healthy weight, many doctors add one other concern: how to do it safely. The right diet (or eating plan) combines all these considerations, and with the growing popularity of detox (aka "cleansing") diets, many people are wondering: Do detox diets work?

A detox diet may work for you, presuming you define "work" as "losing weight fairly rapidly." For that purpose, it has shown solid results. There's a reason celebrities such as Beyonce Knowles, Jared Leto and Gwyneth Paltrow credited their detox/cleanse diets to losing critical pounds when needed.

The way a typical detox diet works prompts the body to respond in a way that will drop pounds quickly, so if that's the plan—say, cutting 6-8 pounds in a short period of time because a reunion or big event is approaching—a detox diet might be something to consider.

"A detox diet may work for you, presuming you define "work" as "losing weight fairly rapidly.""If weight loss is not the goal, the usefulness may be more debatable. If you want to maintain an optimum weight and are just looking for general improved health, your personal level of benefit may vary. It all depends on what you want to accomplish.

A detox diet is based on the notion that over time, the foods we eat leave toxins in the body, and these toxins build up over time to make us unhealthy. Following a detox diet is claimed to prompt the body to expel these toxins, though the "side effect" it's known for is often dieter's main priority: shedding weight.

Detox diets differ, according to Prevention magazine. Some are virtual fasts, with the user eating no solid food and drinking only water, broth or tea. Other plans allow the user to drink juices, while the least restrictive allow for some (generally organic) foods, such as fruits or vegetables, while others also allow protein shakes.1

It's not hard to understand why these types of diets spur fast weight loss: the simple calorie depletion alone will prompt the body to lose weight. However, according to the KidsHealth site, the weight loss from a detox diet is often water weight, not fat.2

Outside of weight loss, the variety of results experienced from people who try a detox diet is quite broad. Some claim greatly increased energy levels, improved complexion, fewer headaches and a better overall sense of well-being.

"Additionally, anyone considering a detox diet should be aware that it's not intended as a long-term eating plan."However, Dr. Peter Pressman of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles states that these benefits likely are not the direct result of detoxification, but relate to other aspects of the diet, such as increased hydration.3

Additionally, anyone considering a detox diet should be aware that it's not intended as a long-term eating plan. There may be health risks in doing this diet for too long or too often, because it greatly restricts both calories and nutrition in general.4 It doesn't keep weight off because it generally just reduces water weight, and that weight is quickly gained back.

Ultimately, a detox or cleansing diet falls somewhere between a standard eating plan and fasting, and fasts are never intended to be long-term solutions. To maintain an optimal weight and be healthy on a regular basis, doctors and other experts recommend well-balanced, nutritional foods and exercise. However, a detox diet may provide short-term benefits, most particularly rapid water weight loss, when used responsibly and for a limited period.