I’m frequently asked for my opinion on the best cleanse or detox product. Before you read any further, you should know that I’m not an advocate for detoxes or cleanses. I used to answer questions about detoxes and cleanses with a snooty, “You don’t need them. Your body will do it on its own.” Then I realized that wasn’t helping anyone. So, I put together short explanations on three easy ways you can achieve the desired result of a cleanse or detox without buying any product. But first, allow me to briefly explain why I’d recommend this course of action.
Your liver, lungs, and kidneys are detoxifying your body on a daily basis, making the premise of detoxifying your body with an exogenous product a bit flawed. Not to mention, many of the “toxins” that these products are targeting aren’t “toxic” to the body at all unless they’re ingested in high amounts. And if that were the case, no detox tea or cleanse would help you. Can you imagine walking into an ER after being exposed to a toxic substance or heavy metals (not Metallica) and the doctor prescribing a detox tea?
All that being said, while you shouldn’t waste money on detoxes and cleanses, not all hope is lost. If your objective from cleansing or detoxing is to remove excess water weight, bloat, or hit the “refresh button” in your body, here are three ways to go about doing it.
Carbohydrates and Water Weight
One mechanism behind the “rapid” weight loss during a cleanse is because of carbs and glycogen, your body’s way of storing glucose. This is also why people who cut carbs lose a ton of weight in the beginning stages of their diet. Your body breaks down glycogen from body fat and other body tissues during periods of glucose-deprivation to create glucose for fuel. When glycogen is stored, it stores a lot of water along with it. Three times as much, to be precise. So, when you’re carb-depleted, you will lose water weight. Voila.
Practical applications here would be reducing carbs and increasing protein/fat intake for a period leading up to whatever event you want to cleanse for. This is my favorite option because you can “drop weight” without depriving yourself in any way.
Bloating and Fiber Intake
Piggybacking off the last point, if you’re going to reduce carbs, vegetables are still okay (and recommended). However, eating a ton of fiber from veggies may cause slight bloating. These effects are usually acute and follow fiber-rich meals. If you’re going to be on the beach, it’s probably not a bad idea to scale back on your fiber intake 12-24 hours prior. Water intake is crucial for keeping fiber “moving along” so be sure to up your H2O intake.
And hey, you can even put lemon, spices, or other calorie-free herbs in your water if you’d like.
Fasting and GI Breaks
Another option or alternative to a cleanse that may produce the desired benefits of feeling better could be an extended fast. It’s kind of like a cleanse without any type of product. Start with a 24-hour window where you don’t consume anything other than water, black coffee, or tea – no calories of any kind. There’s promising research on the hormonal benefits of fasting, but the biggest benefits will be the break your digestive system receives and the overall calorie reduction.
This will probably be easier on a weekday when you have things going on to distract you during the day. As long as you don’t crush all the food in sight the day after, you’ll get the desired effect. If 24 hours goes well, you could continue extending the window, but I’d go slowly. (Always clear out of the ordinary dietary changes with your doctor.)
Like I mentioned earlier, your liver, lungs, and kidneys play a large role in detoxing and cleansing your body. If you think about their roles in the body you should be able to enhance their productivity. The lungs, for instance, eliminate toxins through respiration. So, increasing respiration through deep breathing or exercise may improve your toxin removal rate (+ burn calories and body fat). The kidneys, on the other hand, play a role in the urinary system and excrete bodily waste through urine. Without water, your natural filtration system isn’t able to eliminate toxins and waste as efficiently as possible. Mark another in the win columns for drinking lots of water and exercising.
If you need ideas for easy workouts at home and other nutrition strategies, you should take my free 14-day strength training at home course. You can get started by clicking here. Did I mention it’s free?