Detox and Cleansing Diets: Healthy or Dangerous?

There’s a lot of buzz lately about detoxifying and/or cleansing the body in regards to weight loss. Is this weight loss worth the risk? What is actually happening when a detoxification or cleansing diet is implemented in trying to achieve weight loss?

What is Detoxing and/or Cleansing?

Detox dietDetoxing and/or cleansing diets are diets consisting of basically juices, herbal teas and/or raw foods ingesting very few daily calories. The concept is that by only consuming these things the body will shed toxins and will function better, have better mental clarity and most of all…..lose weight!

Be aware that much of detoxification and cleansing theories are backed by people wanting to make money, pushing products that are not FDA approved nor backed by valid research of efficacy.

Claims of Clarity

Reports of mental clarity, intensified creativity and heightened concentration are only backed by anecdotal evidence. These reports in actuality are explainable by the very notion that one is paying attention to what one is consuming and making prudent and judicious choices therefore the “heightened mental awareness or clarity.”

Weight Loss – with Side Effects

What is actually happening when detox or cleansing diets are used for weight loss?

  • The scale may go down, but in a very unsafe manner.
  • Detoxification diets are very low in calories so the body will go into a conversion mode, meaning calories are burned more SLOWLY.
  • Calories that are consumed will be stored primarily as fat as the body perceives starvation through such drastic caloric restriction. This will send the body into a downward spiral towards “survival mode” as the body clings to every calorie that is consumed not knowing when it will be nourished or fed again.
  • Weight loss is primarily water weight and not true “fat loss”
  • Muscle wasting will ensue destroying lean tissue which in turn destroys metabolism.
  • No amount of exercise can counter the loss of lean tissue as it can only be sustained through the combination of BOTH proper nutrition and exercise.
  • Malnutrition occurs by restricting nutrient dense foods and worse entire food groups.
  • Lack of nutrients and severe calorie restriction will also compromise the immune system making the body more vulnerable to illness.
  • Lack of energy with possible bouts of dizziness, nausea, and headaches will result.
  • Inability to execute exercise to its fullest and most efficiently due to having no fuel in the machine.
  • Glycogen stores are on empty making exercise pretty much a miserable experience.  And, making the body more susceptible in getting hurt or worse yet…injured!

The Reality of Weight Loss Gimmicks

Juice CleanseThese detox and cleansing diets are short term weight loss gimmicks which do nothing to promote healthy life long nutritional habits while wreaking havoc on the body’s metabolism preventing it from running strong and efficiently for a lifetime.

The bottom line is that the human body is one of the most complex machines on earth.  The fact that its sustainability has been going on for centuries is evidence that our bodies have evolved to perfection in many ways.

Keep healthy and strong. Ditch the detoxification, cleansing and fad diets.

DOMS Pain: Myth or Magic

Discomfort in Relationship to Training

So, how many times have you heard the catch phrase “No Pain, No Gain” and wondered, is it true? The honest truth is the answer is in some ways yes, and in other ways no. Let me explain.

No Pain No GainPain is a part of training because it is necessary to push the body out of its comfort zone. I’m sure many of you have heard me say “A workout shouldn’t be all warm and fuzzy….you must train yourself to become comfortable with  feeling uncomfortable.” And when you get out of your comfort zone, discomfort or pain will be involved.

However, it is also true that pain is a warning sign that something is going wrong. For example, break a leg and the body sends an instant pain signal to take the pressure off the leg. Our bodies have built in systems to protect us from damage. Ignore it at your peril.

So to answer the question, it is vital for us to be able to distinguish the difference between good types of pain vs bad pain. Failing to do so can also mean making the mistake in your training of either not pushing yourself hard enough, or pushing yourself too hard when it is time to heal.

Bad Pain

Sharp pain, acute pain, pain that is all of a sudden, is frequently an alert that something is wrong. It is your body’s warning system to pull back from whatever is causing the hurt. It may be a muscle, joint, bone, tendon, ligament, etc. This pain is usually VERY noticeable.

Dull pain may be a warning that something is starting to develop and you should pay close attention as you proceed with your training in caution, accessing and reassessing what it is doing.

Good Pain

Contrast bad pain with examples of good pain.

Good Pain Example: When executing an intense training session, you will experience immediate pain and discomfort from the movement you are executing.

TKettlebell Swingsake the kettlebell swing as an example. When executing a kettlebell swing, you start to feel discomfort almost immediately. The load becomes sufficiently difficult, your heart rate continues to go up leaving you breathless, while you are grunting to eek out another rep.  Meanwhile burning sensations take place in the glutes, legs, arms, etc. But, what happens when you stop? The discomfort or pain goes away. Pushing oneself out of their comfort zone and feeling discomfort or pain in this case is placing demands on the body – in a good way.

Good Pain Example: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or “DOMS” is pretty self explanatory by name. Your muscles experience a second round of pain hours, 1-2 days after your training session. This soreness is a result of micro-tears in the muscle itself.

However, DOMS is not due to lactate acid – a major inaccuracy in the sports and fitness world. These micro-tears come in response to your training which take your muscles beyond their current level of conditioning. Which again, is a good thing. DOMS Pain is Good

The idea is to tear down that muscle, allow it time to recover and therefore rebuild, and strength gains and muscle growth will occur.

The actual strengthening of the muscles occurs in the recovery phase. In order to get results, the breakdown and recovery process is a must. Feeling that post training soreness or DOMS is sure fire proof that you did something right.

So, the old “No Pain No Gain” catch phrase is somewhat true, but there is a balance. Keep in tune with your body so that you are able to recognize a signal where the pain just isn’t right or is very severe. Perhaps there may be more going on than simple muscle discomfort or soreness such as in most cases.

And while DOMS can be intense at times, it does fade away. And as strength gains continue and the body adapts, you will find yourself getting into far better condition than ever before. Keep in mind that if you feel nothing as a result of your training, you’re most likely not pushing yourself hard enough to achieve results you are striving for.

Looking for a new fitness accomplishment?

Consider joining us for the Catalina 20 miler or 50K Ultra. Training starts November 1st. Contact Amy today if you are ready for this incredible challenge and adventure.