Do Weight Loss Cleanses Work?

By Rachel MacPhersonApril 13th 2021

Weight loss can become a very challenging and overwhelming process when things don't go your way. Although weight loss progress is never a straight line, people often get anxious when their weight loss plateaus. Sometimes it can seem like you're doing everything right and nothing's working.

Even the most logical people can turn to extremes to get the needle moving again when this happens. Weight loss cleanses are a tempting solution to a problem that seems unsolvable. However, do weight loss cleanses even work, and are they safe? Read on to find out.

What Is a Weight Loss Cleanse?

Weight loss cleanses, or so-called detoxes, are often a method for rapid weight loss. Weight loss cleanses and detoxes have become very popular, but their effectiveness is not a sure thing. First off, our bodies have complex mechanisms for detoxing, so any so-called detox diet is not living up to its promises of removing toxins that prevent weight loss. (Our readers also like: How Losing Weight Affects Your Body and Brain )

Do Weight Loss Cleanses Work?

As for weight loss cleanses, these diets usually promise to help you lose weight by removing something from your diet. Sometimes these diets require you to buy expensive herbal supplements or drinks such as juices or teas. 

Weight loss cleanses and so-called detox diets are typically short-term programs that promise to help you lose a certain amount of weight. However, these programs are not necessarily backed by science, safe for many people, or helpful for long-term weight loss.

Can Cleanses Help You Lose Weight?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is probably not. 

Any diet program that causes you to consume fewer calories than you burn will lead to weight loss. As well, if you cut out certain macronutrients such as carbohydrates or protein, you will lose weight in the form of water and muscle mass. This type of weight loss is not ideal, however.

Do Weight Loss Cleanses Work?

In the long run, since these diet programs are short-term, they are not real solutions as you will more than likely gain back all of the weight and perhaps even more than you started. Additionally, restricting calories substantially and removing macronutrients can cause your metabolism to adapt and slow down, making weight loss more difficult the next time you try it.

Is a Weight Loss Cleanse Right For You?

Weight loss cleanses come in a large variety of types. Those that seek to remove heavily processed foods, refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, or too much sodium but still maintain an appropriate level of calories for weight loss and provide enough nutrition from other sources can be a healthy choice. Unfortunately, these types of diet cleanses are far and few between because they do not sell products that finance the diet industry. Be wary of any diet cleanse or detox program that requires you to buy supplements or special drinks.

Do Weight Loss Cleanses Work?

If a jump start commitment such as a weight-loss cleanse will help you see progress in your weight loss goals and lead you to become more motivated to continue on your path to a healthier diet for the long-term, then this is a good option for you. (Read also: How to Lose Weight In 12 Weeks )

If eliminating your favorite foods even in moderation or jumping into too many dietary changes all at once leaves you overwhelmed, deprived, and frustrated, then it is best to avoid weight loss cleanses. Instead, try to adopt healthy habits more slowly and gradually.

Potential Health Benefits

Some potential health benefits of going on a weight loss cleanse include:

  • Eliminating highly processed unhealthy foods like sugar, alcohol, unhealthy fats, and sodium
  • Focusing on nutrient-dense, high-quality foods
  • Weight loss success that leads to motivation

Potential Health Risks

Some potential health risks of weight loss cleanses include:

  • Highly restrictive
  • Can be too low in calories
  • Weight regain
  • Can eliminate healthy foods and even whole categories of macronutrients
  • Don't teach healthy eating behaviors

How to Do a Healthy Weight Loss Cleanse

If you want to try a healthy weight loss cleanse yourself, the best strategy is to choose one or two problem areas in your diet to address at a time. Use a habit tracker and commit to reducing your bad habits with your diet for a couple of weeks, for example. 

Do Weight Loss Cleanses Work?

If you drink several sodas a day, start by eliminating half of your sodas and replacing them with sparkling water with lemon. After a couple of weeks, try reducing your soda consumption even more. 

You can try the same thing with unhealthy snacking. For example, if you stop to grab a pastry on your way to work every morning, try bringing a piece of fruit and a couple of hard-boiled eggs with you instead. Try committing to this for two or three days of the week, gradually increasing the number of days you choose the healthy option.

If you are more advanced in your healthy eating journey, you could try eliminating food such as white bread products, sugar-sweetened beverages, processed high sodium foods, or other unhealthy aspects of your diet. 

Do Weight Loss Cleanses Work?

An even better strategy is to focus on adding healthy foods into your diet rather than only taking things away. Commit to adding a certain number of servings of fruits and vegetables each day and build on that each week. These types of healthy habits will more likely lead to lasting and sustainable weight loss without the gimmicks. ( Check out: Can My Chiropractor Help Me Lose A Few Pounds? )

DISCLAIMER: The content of this article is for informational purposes only, and although Reshape.Me strives to keep the information up to date and correct, it does not replace the advice of a healthcare practitioner. Be sure to consult a licensed medical professional if you require personalized support that may affect your health. Any reliance on this information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

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