Despite the marketing jargon and empty promises of many commercial detox programs, the relationship between detoxification and weight loss can be complex. The combination of too little genuine information and too many pervasive misconceptions often prompts people to attempt a detox in hopes of losing weight, only to leave them disappointed and frustrated by lackluster results.
Detoxification can create healthy, lasting weight loss through a wide variety of mechanisms.
- Our bodies use fat to imprison toxic substances they lack the resources to properly bind and flush. When a detox provides you with the resources needed safely eliminate those toxins, your body may also let go of fat it was hoarding for the sole purpose of isolating those toxins.
- Detoxes focused on the intake of clean, whole foods (such as a Sugar Detox or Whole 30) may bring strongly disordered blood sugar levels into proper balance. This can reset your metabolism to effectively burn both fat and carbs for fuel, reducing body’s fat stores.
- Detoxifying can substantially reduce inflammation, which can alleviate swelling and edema, ultimately resulting in weight loss. (Note: You may need to avoid the inflammation-triggering food long term to maintain this change.)
Detoxification can also cause unhealthy weight loss.
Dehydration (intentional or accidental) is the most common culprit here. Detoxes that emphasize sweating or guzzling dehydrating beverages (like tea) make it easy to lose water weight, but this is both terrible for you and completely temporary. As soon as possible, your body will suck up the water it needs and you’ll regain the weight. It is also possible to use extreme or extended fasting or severe calorie restrictions coupled with extensive exercise to force your body to burn off pounds. But this isn’t actually a detox – it’s destructive self-abuse, and it will ultimately leave you in worse shape than you started in.
Sometimes, detoxification doesn’t cause weight loss at all. Again, there are numerous reasons why this might happen. For example:
- If you are already at a healthy weight, and engage in a safe, appropriate form of detox it’s entirely possible to give your system a thorough and productive cleaning without impacting your weight.
- If your body is be desperately hanging on to fat it’s using to protect you from deeply health-threatening toxins, it may obstinately refuse to budge on the matter if the detox you attempt does not provide the particular resources needed (or provide them in adequate quantity) to safely and completely eliminate the toxins being encapsulated in that fat.
- Our weight is the result of a complicated web of processes and chemical interactions within our bodies. A breakdown at any point in that far-flung system create muck up the entire thing. It’s entirely possible to everything else right and see no change unless or until you correctly identify and address the broken component.
Bottom Line: Detoxification can help you lose weight, but that should never be why you do it.
We live in a culture that values weight and appearance over genuine health. But frankly, all that begets is miserable life and early grave. Unless you’re happy to die young for the sake of being a pretty corpse, focus on health first. When you make getting truly healthy your focus, everything else will follow. Don’t chase the ideal weight, the clear skin, or the sharp mind – chase good health and watch everything else fall into place! (Or as Steph over at Stupid Easy Paleo puts it, watch yourself get “Healthier, Happier, and Harder to Kill”!)
What do you think? Was today’s post a relief or a unwelcome reality?