There is a lot of information on the web on the topic of detox. Why is there so much buzz around detoxing? I believe it’s because most people understand that a detox is good for their body but I also firmly believe their reason for detoxing is usually not the right one. While a detox can be very healthy and provide several benefits it’s important to know how to detox properly. Misguided information or trendy juice detoxes can not only be a unpleasant experience but it can also do more harm than good. These results can leave a person feeling discouraged, fatigued and deficient in vital nutrients. In this post, I hope to guide you in some Do’s & Do Not’s of a detox but let’s first start with some context.
What is a detox?
Detox defined – “A regimen or treatment to remove toxins and impurities from the body. ” – Merriam Webster Dictionary
Is Detoxing Necessary?
Yes. Due to our environmental and lifestyle choices are bodies are exposed to harmful chemicals and toxins. With time, these chemicals and toxins begin to build up in our bodies creating deficits in our health. The best way to detox is to do it in a way that will support liver detoxification by fueling your body with quality protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
In a nutshell, because our constant encounter with chemicals, toxins, pesticides, etc. our food (even healthy organic food) is not as high quality as it was 100 years ago. Add additional stress of the environment, life, relationships, improper sleep, etc. and your body becomes quickly burdened. A detox’s purpose is to help the body regain better health function so that:
1. Your liver can prevent toxins from entering the blood stream.
2. Your kidneys can filter toxins out of your urine.
3. Your colon can continue to regulate and manage good and bad bacteria.
Signs that Your Body May Need a Detox:
Everyone is different so these signs are only indicators of a stressed body. However, it is not uncommon for people to experience one or more of these issues at the same time.
Feeling Bloated – When I say feeling bloated, I am referring to a constant state of feeling bloat that doesn’t ever really end. You feel it when you first wake up and notice it until it’s time for bed. Usually, with these feeling you will notice constipation and/or physical discomfort when you eat food. This is a very strong indication that your gut is fighting inflammation and that you most likely need a diet change as well as gut rehab as known as a detox.
Check Your Poop – Poop? I know, gross. But if you never took notice of our stool than you may want to start. Everyone is different but the common consensus is that you should poop at least 1-3 times a day. (If your metabolic rate is higher than you usually will poop more frequently.) Don’t stop with frequency but be mindful of consistency too. If your poop is too hard than it can be a sign of lack of fiber or dehydration. Too loose is a sign that your food is going through you too quickly. Both of these extremes can be evidence of food allergies, gut inflammation and an intestinal system that needs TLC. (Research taken from http://kimberlysnyder.com/ . Read more about poop here.)
Tummy Check – Here’s what you do. Lay down on your back and take 2-3 fingers and begin pressing down right below your belly button first. You want to press down deep. Also, check to the left and right side of your tummy (again below your belly button). If you stomach is inflammed it will hurt when you press down. Trust me you will know right away. This isn’t always an indication of gut problems but it definitely will help you determine if you are having some.
Analyze your Skin – Did you know that breakouts on your face and the location of the breakouts is a way your body can tell you something’s wrong. It’s called, Face Mapping. I can go in to detail but I think the best way to share this information is through this cool visual. (You can read more about Face Mapping here and here.) Face map image credit of annmariegianni.com
Difficult Weight Loss – If you are exercising regularly and being a clean whole foods eater but you are not seeing the scale go down; than it could strongly mean you need to detox. Even though you are making all the right choices, your metabolism along with your liver are barely functioning making your body unresponsive to the hard work and discipline you are putting in. So you could essentially be doing everything right but still not see weight loss or have a weight loss plateau because they are too many toxins and impurities standing in the way.
As you can see the gut is really a complex system but vital in so many aspects of our well being. It’s important that we not only eat right and live a healthy lifestyle but give our bodies an additional boost every now and then. Helping our bodies with a detox can be a great way to increase metabolism, support liver detoxification, rid the body of toxins, and help diagnosis food problems or sensitivities/allergies. Before you start your detox though, I highly recommend that you first read through these Do’s and Do Not’s of Detoxing as well as consult with your doctor.
5 Don’ts When Detoxing:
Don’t #1 – Never do a liquid detox. I always cringe when I see another friend on FB with a picture about their current liquid juice fast or detox. First, only consuming liquids for a long period of time is not only unsafe but really unhealthy. But they lose weight, right? Yes, most people that do some form of liquid or juice fast do see weight loss. Unfortunately, this weight loss isn’t the type that anyone would want to achieve. Liquid detoxes have a high chance of causing muscle wasting and increasing fatigue. Your body literally begins to utilize your muscle for fuel and energy instead of fat. Why? It’s easier for your body to burn muscle than fat. Fat is much harder for your body to utilize so if your body is already stressed than it’s going to go for the easiest source of getting energy – muscle.
Don’t #2 – Don’t Be Extreme. If you never eaten a salad in your life or if your “go to” meal is a number 2 at Burger King then a detox is not for you. Wait, what? I mean, yes, you do need a detox because your body is full of nutritional junk but there are a lot of other changes you can make before doing a detox. Detoxes are hard period. They take a huge amount of self-control and the food cravings can be really intense. Remember, a detox is about optimizing your health and ridding your body of toxins and chemicals not about losing weight suddenly just to go back to Burger King. Extreme people often use a detox as a short cut. Instead of being diligent in practicing healthy eating and lifestyle habits, these people want drastic results and they want them in a short amount of time. Again, this is not only unhealthy but unsafe.
Don’t #3 – Don’t Do Strenuous Exercise. When you do a detox it’s important to understand your putting your body under a rigorous regiment. The last thing you want to do is to keep your high intensity workouts up too. If you are doing a detox than you will need to cut back or change your workout regiment all together. Instead, keep exercise light and more recreational – think walking and yoga. If you enjoy bodyweight or interval training like myself, than continue with caution. Although I typically workout 6 days a week, I found myself working out every other day in addition to keeping my workouts at about 10 minutes. My highest energy day, my workout was only 15 minutes long. I never felt fatigued during my detox except for when I did my workout so I kept the workouts short and sweet.
Don’t #4 – Don’t Feel Hungry. This goes along with Don’t #1 but I want to re-state it all the same. The purpose of a detox is not too lose weight. This can naturally happen but this should never be the end GOAL of a detox. If you are detoxing properly than you will most likely see weight loss and the weight stay off given you eat and live a healthy lifestyle. Instead, you want to support your body through certain choice and highly quality foods so that you don’t feel fatigued during your detox. Feelings of fatigue will only burden your body more and will make your body more susceptible to losing muscle mass not fat.
Don’t #5 – Don’t Cheat. I have done several detoxes and in the beginning I always would cheat here and there. Ugh, it’s embarrassing to admit that but I did cheat. They were little cheats but it doesn’t matter. The cheating will affect your results. Stay the course. Remind yourself that your body is working really hard to remove toxins and impurities so don’t make it any harder. I suggest to throw out or give away off limits food. For me, I made sure that none of my favorite foods were in the home. I love chocolate so I made sure that chocolate wasn’t anywhere within arms reach. If you have to eat socially than plan ahead. Pack a snack or approved protein shake so that you have something to eat but can still stay on track. Lastly, keep in mind that your detox is only for x amount of days your chocolate will be there when you are done.
5 Do’s When Detoxing:
Do #1 – Do have a plan. Detoxing is hard and can be strenuous on your body. You don’t want to wing it.This is your body and your health we are talking about. Talk to your doctor or go to place where they have it all planned out. I did my detox through Metagenics. I have no affiliate with them. I love that their vitamins and supplements are high quality with no empty fillers. They also had a step by step plan to follow for 10 days. I knew what I could and could not eat. They even provided recipes and meal ideas which I loved. Here’s more information about their detox programs. I highly recommend not starting the detox until your pantry and fridge are prepared too. The last thing you want is to feel those cravings setting in and have nothing detox approved to off set them.
Do #2 – Do drink water. I can not stress this enough. I love water and it’s been the primary drink choice since high school but I still got hit over the head with the fact that I don’t drink nearly enough. Before the detox, I would drink between 24 – 30 ounces. The detox recommended 48 ounces or more. In the beginning, it was hard but the more water I would drink the more I realized how thirsty I really was. Weird, right? I’m 3 weeks out from my detox and I have been drinking between 48 – 60 ounces and feel AMAZING! It doesn’t feel like too much water and no, I’m not going to the bathroom all the time either. Remember, water is key to flush out the toxins and impurities and to keep everything else moving too. 😉
Do #3 – Do take a supplement to support you. Why is this important? When you are cutting out so many different foods out of your diet it is important to have micronutrients that you would normally get through food in a supplemental form. These supplements will prevent you from feeling dizziness, hunger, and fatigue. The only time I felt fatigue was when I was working out. The second and even better reason for taking supplements while detoxing is to support your body as it cleanses itself of the toxins and impurities. Supplements containing vitamin A and B12 are especially helpful as research has shown that these help eliminate toxins. Our plan had a vitamin supplement and a plant based protein shake incorporated in the plan. For me, this was helpful in knowing when to take what and how much. After detoxing with supplements, I will never go back to not having supplemental support. It was a night and day experience.
Do# 4 – Have accountability – My husband did the detox with me which made it much easier to stay on track. I was still at home with two little cuties that obviously didn’t do the detox. At times I did feel tempted, but didn’t give in. I did have my kids eat a lot of the same meals just to reduce my risk of cheating and to help clean up their diet as well. If you can’t get a spouse than ask a friend, roommate or family member to check in with you and stay focus. I think the most encouraging reason to stay on track is knowing that what you doing is going to boost your health and well being for months to follow.
Do # 5 – Listen to your body – I highly recommend a food journal to help you through your detox especially if you have had gut issues before doing your detox. Keeping a journal will bring insight to you and even possibly your doctor. It’s important to know that you will feel the detox. Possible feelings are cravings, crankiness, and even some mood swings. However, all of these symptoms should be rather temporary. I once had a friend that was detoxing for 3 weeks and felt worse than when she first started. My recommendation to her was to stop her detox immediately and talk to her doctor. You should feel better, more energized and even experience heightened smell and taste. I especially loved how I had better mental clarity during the afternoon when I previously would experience a brain slump.
Also, listen to your body and S-L-O-W-L-Y add food back in. I could not believe how sweet everything tasted…even honey left me with a pounding headache. For my husband, he notice immediate stomach issues when he consumed coconut oil. Both of these insights are super healthful when moving forward in our eating choices.
I did the Metagenics Ultra Clear Renew 10 day detox. It was the first time that I have detoxed using a supplemental support and I never felt hungry (I’ve done 4 detoxes before). Cravings yes, but hunger…no. 🙂 Again, I have no affiliate with them just love their high quality products.
Here’s a Snap Shot of My Detox Journey:
Day 1-2 – Pretty easy and not feeling any changes. I refer to the “what I can eat” section of my detox before every meal and snack.
Day 3-4 – Day 4 cravings start setting in for sugar and anything salty. Hives begin to show up. Starting to feel fatigue when I workout.
Day 5-7 – Hardest. Hives. Super emotional in the evening on day 5 and 6. Day 5-6 feel good but kept workouts super light & short or skipped them all together.
Day 6 – Mental clarity is awesome until evening hit a big mood swing. Hard to get out of bed days 4-6 but once I eat breakfast I feel fine.
Day 7 – Great energy levels. Workout is incredible. Able to get out of bed right away. Everything tastes good. Heightened sense of smell and taste.
Day 8 – Added more foods in and it feels like Thanksgiving. My workout was awesome. Feel great all day.
Day 9 – Again feeling really great. Excited to be almost done. Still getting hives but seeing results. Woke up hungry.
Day 10-12 – Wake up feeling hungry. Great bowl movements. Sugar seems to really bother me. Nothing else. Trying to remember to push the water. No inflammation in my gut. Hives still present. Workouts feeling great. Trying to stay focus on eating only when I’m hungry and not trying to be a kid in the candy shop syndrome. Eating meals with smaller amounts of protein and larger plant based meals. Everything still tastes amazing.
My goal was never to lose weight but I did. I lost 5 inches and 3 pounds in 10 days. I’m 3 weeks out and I still feel AMAZING. Before detoxing, I was having major gut inflammation. Before the detox I could tell something I was eating was bothering my gut, but I couldn’t figure it out. At this point, the answer seems to be eggs so I haven’t been eating them.
I would love to hear from you. Please let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment.
*Disclaimer: This information is based off my own personal experience. I am not a medical doctor. Always consult with your physician before beginning a detox.