Recently, people seeking fast weight loss are turning to cleanses and detoxing diets. You will see big celebrities and diet brands endorsing detoxification agents as the ultimate solution for weight loss. But the question is, “Are cleanses/detoxification beneficial for you?” This article will answer that question while highlighting things you should be doing instead of detoxing.
The Idea Behind Detoxing For Weight Loss
What is cleansing or detoxification? Cleansing or detoxification means getting rid of impurities or making something clean.
People who propose the idea of detoxing for weight loss believe that if your body accumulates lots of harmful environmental and dietary substances that it needs assistance to get rid of them. (To read more about toxins click here)
The proponents of this idea believe that by using strict dietary practices like the use of laxatives, herbal supplements, or fasting, you detoxify the body and organs like the colon, liver, and kidney. Also, a very common goal of this idea is to achieve weight loss.
Body system cleansing/detoxing has become very popular even among bodybuilders. Still, the fact remains that there is no concrete scientific evidence to support or prove the effectiveness of this dietary regimen.
Why Cleanses/Detoxing is Not Beneficial When Bodybuilding
As an athlete or bodybuilder, following detoxing trends is not beneficial to you. You will merely be wasting your money, and below are the reasons why.
- Detoxing can be risky to your health
Detoxing is a way of losing weight that is not as easy as people make it seem. Detoxing, especially without the help of a professional, can have harmful effects on your health.
BMJ Case Reports reported the case of a 47-year old woman that tried detox and ended up having seizures because she had an extremely low sodium level (a condition known as hyponatremia). This shows that detoxing when you have a certain medical condition can put your life at risk.
- It robs your body of needed nutrients
When you cleanse or detox your gastrointestinal tracts and other organs, you will, without a doubt, rob your body system of important nutrients needed for normal functioning. It gets even worse when the practice is done for an extended period.
- It is an unnecessary practice for bodybuilders
Severely restricting your diet and taking some herbal concoctions can be more harmful than the ‘so-called’ toxins the practice claims to cleanse. This is because they alter the body’s normal cellular process while leaving the body in need of help.
Also, bodybuilders, trainers, or athletes are already fighting to keep their nutrient levels balanced. They need to eat the right balanced meals more than they need to detox. Hence, detoxing or cleansing might be an unnecessary practice for this category of people.
- Weight problems have nothing to do with toxins
One of the reasons people who want to lose weight opt for detox is that it helps the body get rid of toxins, which in turn helps to lose weight or prevent weight gain. But the fact remains that your weight problems are usually not linked to toxins. (To read more about detoxing to lose weight click here)
When your hunger and appetite level feel out of control, you are most likely under-eating, over-exercising, or eating the wrong types of foods. When you eat too little and over-exercise, there could be an imbalance of metabolism. This imbalance is what a bodybuilder should correct and not taking juices to get rid of toxins.
- Your organs don’t need help with detoxification
Unless you have health conditions like digestive problems, kidney and liver problems, then it is safer to say that the organs you need to process food for energy and detoxification (intestines, colon, kidney, and liver) are functioning properly.
When your kidney and liver are functioning properly, they work best to eliminate harmful toxins from your body. They will hardly need the help of detox agents to get that job done. All you might have to do to help these organs is to consume the right foods in the right proportion.
Alternatives to Detoxing
If your body doesn’t necessarily need detoxing, there must be more efficient and harmless ways to help keep harmful substances at bay. Here are some alternative practices to detoxing.
- Change your eating habits
If you haven’t been eating right, the chances are that you will be seeking a way to flush your system. However, your body already can efficiently flush out harmful wastes and toxins that it doesn’t need.
A better approach would be to eat cleaner! Check for weight loss diets that focus on eating clean. You might want to research diets like the Mediterranean diet and stick with it. This diet encourages eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, tubers, and seafood and is based on typical meal plans of people living in the Mediterranean regions like Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Spain.
- Opt for clean protein sources
A bodybuilder looking to gain muscles and lose weight (body fat) needs proteins. Proteins should make up about 25-30% of your daily caloric intake.
Amongst the top protein sources for bodybuilders are chicken breast, turkey breast, pork tenderloin, Greek yogurt, black, pinto and kidney beans, scallops, tilapia, tuna, shrimps, buffalo, halibut, tofu, seeds, and nuts.
- Exercise regularly
Your body doesn’t need an external agent to cleanse itself. However, one natural and effective way to cleanse your body is by exercising. When you work out, your boost your energy levels, this gives you a similar rejuvenating feeling you get after about three days of juice cleansing.
Studies have also shown that exercising helps reduce inflammation. Indeed the body needs to undergo the inflammation process to recover from wounds or infection. However, excess inflammation can weaken your body system, including its detoxification system.
- Drink lots of water
There are many benefits of water. One of such benefits includes keeping the inside healthy. Each time you feel tired or lethargic, check the amount of water you have taken that day. It is most likely that you haven’t taken enough fluids.
Instead of wasting your money and time on some unproven detox fads, you can ‘cleanse’ your body by drinking enough water. This is a more healthy and balanced approach. Vital body organs like the kidney, which are actively involved in waste elimination, need adequate water to function optimally.
- Consume fruit and vegetable smoothies
Instead of detox juices, go for smoothies. Smoothies can contain a variety of healthy fresh fruits and vegetables blended without taking out the fiber. The natural fiber contained in the drink enters your digestive system, aids digestion, loosens the bowel and helps ‘cleanse’ the gastrointestinal tract. This doesn’t mean your diet should be all-smoothie. Instead, you can incorporate it into your meals or snacks.
- Eat foods that contain prebiotics
For your detoxification system to be healthy, your gut needs to be healthy. There is a detoxification and excretion system in your intestinal tracts, which ensures that your gut and body are protected from harmful substances or toxins.
Prebiotics is a special fiber that feeds the normal bacterial flora in your intestinal tract known as probiotics. Prebiotics enable the normal bacterial flora to flourish and produce nutrients that are beneficial to health.
When there is a shift in the normal gut bacterial flora, e.g., an imbalance caused by bad bacteria from poor diet quality or use of antibiotics, it can cause weakening of the immune and detoxification systems.
The good part is that when you eat prebiotics-rich foods, you maintain good gut health, keep the detoxification systems healthy and reduce your risk of diseases and inflammation. Some good food sources of prebiotics include bananas, tomatoes, onions, asparagus, oats, and garlic.
- Get more sleep
Another way to support your body’s natural detoxification system and overall health is by getting quality sleep. Sleeping enables your brain to recharge itself and eliminate toxic wastes accumulated during the daytime. An example of such a waste product is beta-amyloid, a protein that plays a role in developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Other health consequences of sleep deprivation include anxiety, stress, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.
Some foods are described as superfoods because these foods are highly nutritious with a supposed capacity to affect health positively. However, you must know that there is no particular food that has the key to prevent diseases or heal diseases on its own.
Bodybuilders or trainers need these ‘superfoods’ to boost a healthy diet and positively affect their health. In an era where unhealthy foods are abundant, you need superfoods to give your body every nutrient it needs to run smoothly. These foods are mostly plant-based, but there are also fish and dairy on the list.
Examples of superfoods every bodybuilder should try for health and fitness include:
- Dark leafy greens
- Cruciferous vegetables, e.g., Brussel sprouts, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, radishes, collard greens, and turnips
- Berries, e.g., blueberries, acai berries, goji berries, raspberries
- Fish with high omega-3 content, e.g., tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, and sardines
- Seeds and nuts, e.g., almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts
- Yogurt (particularly those that have a live culture like L. bulgaricus and Lactobacillus
- Whole grains
- Olive oil
- Legumes, e.g., kidney beans, soybeans, peas, red, black, and garbanzo beans
- Wine and grapes
- Green tea
- Beets and beet juice
Fad diets, cleanse, or detox regimens give you that fuzzy feeling which makes it seem like you are making amends for ‘dirty bulking’. However, they are doing little or nothing to help physiologically.
If you feel like you want to cleanse and detox for the sake of health and fitness, then you seriously need to pay more attention to your daily dietary constituent as well as your lifestyle habits. Cut out unhealthy food and lifestyle habits and allow your body handle process food, detox, and excrete waste by itself; it can do that efficiently.