So I posted a story to my daily Instagram feed the other day of an image from a magazine about detox diets and I said I'd fill you in and break it down.
The premise of the article was that detox diets aren't all they're cracked up to be! Hallelujah! As many of you know I don't do 'diets'. I educate on nutrition.
January has not long left us, along with the bulge-blitzers and the dry-January-ers. But detoxes tend to hang around for a bit longer. The bikini season. The wedding season. The christmas season. There's a reason for every season. But what the sellers of the juice-clean-your-insides-out, the detox-everything, the 21-day-diet-shred-and-get-abs, diets don't tell you are the adverse effects you can get from them.
Let me summarise the article and hopefully educate you in the process:
- Water water everywhere. Except where we need it.
With most of these plans you cut out foods, you limit calories, you restrict your food intake and all of that comes at a price. The price is shiny and gleaming to begin with as you start to see that number on the old fabled 2 inch screen go down; hurrah! You're losing weight! Yep. But not fat, which is ultimately what you want. It is bikini season after all. What you're actually losing is water and that's not a good thing. As the article says "disrupting fluid balance will result in dehydration which will make you look, feel and perform far worse than normal."
Well that's not great. Losing too much water is actually massively dangerous and can cause bodily functions to shut down. We're talking severe cases, but it doesn't take a lot to get there.
- Starving! ...your body...
You've cut your food intake, you're juicing everything in sight, you're eating only baby food blah blah blah, whichever one it is, by restricting what you're eating by cutting out food groups (let's be honest you're either on low carb or low fat) you are in fact starving your body of its essential nutrients. Still don't care? What do nutrients do? In a nutshell, they allow your liver to function properly, your brain to actually work, your hormones to remain balanced. You put anti-oxidants on your face to protect from free-radicals from car fumes but starve your organs from them. Sound familiar?
So when you start to look pale, dry skin (no amount of Nivea will save you), ache a bit more than usual, can't sleep properly, you can thank your detox for that.
Eat properly! All the colours! Leave the baby food for the babies!
- Slow slow metabolism.
The body liked to be balanced. It likes things to be nice and calm. When it's suddenly no longer in sync because your water is literally up the creak, your liver is crying and your calories are dropped from every angle in every sense the body adjusts things a little bit. A lot. It slows your metabolism down. Let me put it this way; think of a roaring fire, ripping through all of your stores of fat, then suddenly those stores of fat aren't being put on the fire any more because your body doesn't know how much it's going to get again, so it slows it all down, stores up some body fat for later on burns a bit slower. Slower fat loss.
Slower everything. It slows down how you digest food. It slows down how quickly you heal. It slows down your production of hormones (whether you're male or female). It slows everything.
But here's the real kick in the crutch. When it slows your body decides it doesn't need as much energy to live, so when you go back to eating what you were before you put more weight on, it becomes harder to lose it again because you need to eat even less because the bench mark has been dropped.
This is why you probably heard of the 'Biggest Losers' rebounding after their fat loss and then becoming bigger than they were before. That's why. Too much too soon.
- Appetite COMES BACK!
This goes along with 3 really. Body wants to be balanced so it has a system of feedback loops, like little guys on walkie-talkies from our gut to our brain to our fat cells. When we restrict our eating those little guys on walkie-talkies sense that the fat stores aren't being filled as much as they used to so they decide to make you hungry, therefore eat more. And we're back to putting weight back on. Your body and brain will not let you starve so you will succumb at some point to the fridge chocolates. This is where the unsustainability of the diet comes in. You can't stick to it, it's failed, you've failed (you haven't by the way, it was never going to work), so now you go back to eating what you were and all of a sudden you're a size bigger than when you started and we're back on the diet yo-yo again!
You can see why so many people get stuck in this rut of continually dieting, thinking the next diet will be the winner, why they have to work harder because it didn't work, they failed... all of the psychological issues that arise.
If I can give you one piece of advice it would be this....
Eat. Eat more than you realise. Eat vegetables.
Ask yourself did it swim, did it fly, did it walk, did it grow from the ground? If the answer is no, question whether you need it.
Nutrition is simple if you let it be.
Article: Ditch The Detox Diet. Men's Fitness April 2018