Going on a detox diet is a popular option for many people who feel that their system needs to be rebooted or recharged, particularly if they suspect a build-up of toxins in the body. That being said, before starting an intense dietary regimen, it is critical to understand the details of the diet, the effects it will have on your body, and healthy methods to achieve your wellness goals.
What is a Detox Diet?
A detox diet is essentially a diet that helps the body rid itself of toxins that have built up in the body, while also giving the digestive system a break. The body is very good at doing this by itself, provided you aren’t pouring in highly processed, unhealthy or sugary foods, which are a common element of many people’s dietary intake. Detox diets have a number of possible effects, which makes them appealing to a large percentage of people.
There is some debate over the efficacy of detox diets, but they are generally considered healthy if you are ensuring you get enough calories every day. A calorie deficiency is common during a detox diet, so they tend to result in some weight loss, although that weight can be easily gained back after the fast.
Detox diets also come in many different forms, including juice cleanses, water fasts, smoothie diets, and heavy calorie-restriction diets. Depending on what your goals are, one of these detox diet options should be ideal. Detox diets can be dangerous for people who suffer from certain conditions, such as diabetes, and can result in nutrient deficiencies if they aren’t executed properly. Detox diets also tend to be quite short, ranging from 2-7 days, although they can go on for longer in some situations.
Detox Diet Week
Detoxing for one week is a popular option for many people who want to reset their digestive system and feel refreshed. There is a simple dietary schedule that accompanies this detox week, consisting primarily of fruit smoothies and large salads, as well as occasional snacks. The intense focus on fruits and vegetables within this diet helps to clear out the digestive tract, thanks to the high level of fiber, and the antioxidant influx helps to rid the body of toxins and free radicals.
When you are planning a detox week, it can be a shock to the system, so it is wise to slowly ease into the process, primarily by cutting back on caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, while increasing your intake of vegetables and fruits in the days leading up to the detox week. During the detox, it is important to pay attention to your body, especially if your caloric intake is between 1,200 and 1,500 calories. You won’t have much excess energy, so while light exercise is recommended, be careful not to overextend your body.
Foods to Avoid
While you are on a detox diet, there are a number of foods you must avoid, including animal protein, vegetable protein, grains, certain fruits and vegetables, sweeteners, oils and dairy products, among others.
On a detox diet, be sure to avoid things like pork, beef, lamb, canned meats, processed meat and all soy products. You may get a small amount of protein from certain vegetables, but generally, a detox diet has a very low intake of animal and vegetable protein.
Selective Fruits & Vegetables
While fruits play a big part in the fruit smoothies and shakes of a detox diet, there are certain fruits that should be avoided, due to their acidity and fibrous nature, such as oranges, orange juice, and corn.
To speed the detoxification process, you need to avoid cooking oils, as well as salad dressings and other common spreads or toppings, as this can prevent the cleansing of the gut.
One of the most important parts of a detox diet is eliminating all dairy products, including yogurt, cheese, milk and ice cream. These foods require a good deal of digestive power and also contribute to toxin buildup in the body.
These common foods can be very difficult to digest and will interrupt or compromise the benefits of a detox diet, even if you consume a small amount of them.
Detox Smoothie Recipes
Green Protein Smoothie
For this detox smoothie, you need 1 banana, 2 cups of spinach, 1/2 cup of almond milk and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Mix the ingredients thoroughly in a blender with 4 ice cubes for a filling and nutrient-dense meal.
Kale and Apple Detox Smoothie
To make this smoothie, combine 1 stalk of celery, 2 cups of kale, 1/2 of a green apple, 4 ice cubes, 1 cup of almond milk and 1 teaspoon of honey in a blender. Blend for 20-30 seconds until the consistency is smooth and then serve!
Pineapple Banana Detox Smoothie
For this filling smoothie, add 1 banana, 2 cups of spinach, 1 cup of pineapple and 1 green apple to the blender, along with a handful of ice cubes. This smoothie will be quite thick and should be served chilled.
Detox Diet Beginners Guide
For those who are going on a detox diet for the very first time, there are a few important tips to remember, such as choosing your detox diet carefully, ensuring proper nutrient intake, drinking plenty of water, and easing into and out of a detox diet, among others.
One major danger of a detox diet is depriving your body of necessary nutrients; women need at least 1,200 calories per day, and the recommended amount for men is 1,500. Reducing calorie intake is normal on a detox diet, but a certain amount is required for normal bodily function.
Thoroughly research different detox diets before choosing yours, based on your specific needs. A juice cleanse is easier on the stomach than a smoothie cleanses, due to the higher amount of fiber in smoothies. Similarly, a sugar detox diet is different than a clean-eating cleanse. Knowing the difference is key to achieving your individual wellness goals.
Despite the focus of detox diets on drinking your calories, there is still the chance of dehydration on this diet, as you will likely be urinating far more often, and consuming less food than normal (solid food also contains water). A dehydrated body is unable to function or filter toxins properly, so be sure to drink enough water throughout any detox diet.
Before & After the Detox
You can’t just jump into a detox diet and expect your body to react normally. Significantly dropping your total caloric intake, combined with a shift in nutrient sources, can be a shock to the system. Slowly ease out of certain dietary habits before the detox, and then slowly reintroduce foods afterward for a smooth and healthy transition.
Foods that Detox the Body
While many detox diets center around smoothies, water, juice and other liquids, there are also some foods that can help to detoxify the body, including garlic, seeds and nuts, raw vegetables, broccoli sprouts and certain herbs and spices.
Seeds & Nuts
Some nuts and seeds are more easily digestible than others, and while strict detox diets avoid fiber of any kind, food like pumpkin seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds can all help flush the body of toxins.
This potent superfood is known to stimulate the liver, which is critical to eliminating toxins from the body. Eating raw garlic or adding it to your detox diet is highly recommended.
With high levels of sulfur and various antioxidants, raw vegetables like cabbage, kale, asparagus, and onions can kickstart the liver into high gear, increasing the rate of detoxification within the body.
Herbs & Spices
Most herbs and spices have a mild effect on the digestive system, but they can be densely packed with antioxidants and active ingredients. Using turmeric, oregano or cinnamon, among others, can provide an excellent boost to your detox diet smoothies.
Detox Meal Plan
It is much easier to successfully complete your detox diet if you have a solid plan that you can stick with. The following detox meal plan can be tweaked in any number of ways, depending on your detox style and wellness goals.
- Lemon Water
- Green Tea
- Fruit Salad
- Chia Seeds
- Green Detox Smoothie
- Stir-fried vegetables
- Grilled tuna
- Watercress soup
- Vegetable Smoothie
- Avocado Rice bowls
- Kale and Apple Detox Smoothie
- Buckwheat Pasta with Pesto
- Brown Rice Salad
- Cauliflower soup
- Pumpkin curry