Here are 5 things to know before you start a detox diet. We’re a few weeks into the New Year and detox season is in full swing. I’m all for detox diets. I think they’re great – if they’re done right. Anyone can follow a detox diet, and you really don’t need any fancy potions or pills to help you get great results. All you need is the right food, plenty of water and a whole lotta self-discipline.
Often times, people start a detox without really knowing what to expect. What’s more, the word “detox” is thrown out there so frequently that its meaning has become a little diluted. If you’re interested in starting a detox diet, go for it. Before you get started, read this:
1) Not all healthy foods are detoxifying
There is a difference between eating clean foods and eating detoxifying foods. All detoxifying foods are healthy, but not all healthy foods are detoxifying. For the sake of detoxing, it’s important to know whether a food is anabolic or catabolic. The difference is really very simple. Anabolic foods are considered the “body builders” of the food world. They’re typically rich in protein and fat. Fish, chicken breasts and eggs are a few example of anabolic foods. Normally these foods are perfectly fine to eat, but when you’re detoxing, they should be greatly reduced. The goal of the detox is to breakdown, not build up.
Catabolic foods, on the other hand, help to breakdown toxins in our body. Fruits, vegetables and other complex carbohydrates are examples of catabolic foods. Here are a few foods to add to your grocery list that are helpful in a detox diet.
If you’re eating a healthy, clean diet with a good amount of protein and fat, you’re not doing anything wrong. Keep it up! When you’re ready to detox, however, you’ll need to temporarily cut back on these foods.
2) Expect to feel a little icky for a while
More often than not, when people start a true detox diet, they feel less-than-stellar. In fact, some people feel pretty sick. Headaches, nausea and cravings can really throw a person off a few days into a detox. Remember, the objective of a detox diet is to rid the body of toxins. Those toxins have to circulate through the body before they make their way out. Getting enough rest and drinking plenty of herbal teas and filtered water can help you get through this phase of the diet. After a while, you’ll start feeling stable and eventually really energized. Be patient – you’ll get there.
3) If you’re really sick, wait…
A lot of people are motivated to start a detox because they’re sick, but if you’re immune system is already compromised, hold off on detoxing until you’re strong enough to handle to the inevitable detox symptoms (see point 2). Unleashing all the toxins pent up in your body into an already sick environment can make things worse. Get your body strong by eating a diet that is balanced in clean protein and fat-based (anabolic) foods, as well as plenty of nutrient-dense vegetables and fruits. After you feel good and healthy, ease into a detox diet.
4) The weight will come back on
One of the many benefits of a good detox diet is weight loss. This can make detox diets very appealing. If you stick with a detox diet for, say, two weeks or even a month, you could lose a good chunk of weight. When you wrap up the detox diet and start reintroducing (hopefully healthy) foods you haven’t eaten in a while, you’re bound to put a little weight back on. This is ok! Of course, by detoxing your body you’ve given your liver a helping hand in opening up pathways the slowed down your body’s ability to metabolize fat, so some of the weight loss could be permanent.
For those of you who muscle through a detox begrudgingly only to splurge on pizza, cookies and beer because you haven’t had them in a while…well, the weight you lost, as well as any of the benefits of detoxing, will quickly get reversed.
Think of detoxing as spring cleaning your house. It takes a while to get everything cleaned up, but once you do, aren’t you happy with how things look? You’d never trash a spotless floor with muddy shoes the minute you put the mop away. The same holds true for your body. It might take a while to clean out your system, but you’ll feel great. Messing it up again by eating junk food just doesn’t make a lot of sense.
5) Final thoughts – Remove the Roadblocks
My advice for anyone who wants to do a serious detox diet is to eat clean and kick nagging bad habits before you start detoxing. Eating a clean, unprocessed diet that’s free of refined sugar and flours, excessive caffeine and alcohol will make any detox diet much easier.
Traci is a nationally-recognized health and fitness coach, and the current coach working with Steve Harvey’s Bridal Bootcamp. Traci has also been featured on Dr. Oz, The TODAY Show, in SHAPE, SELF and local news programs. Her specialty is weight loss through clean eating and interval-style training. Traci is available for private coaching and corporate consulting. To contact Traci, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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