How many of you have made your New Year resolution to lose weight and have been contemplating going on a detox/cleanse to do so? What if I told you doing this may actually lead to weight gain in the long term? 

Detoxification is not a new notion; it’s been around for centuries and has been a part of many cultures such as the Roman, Greek, Native American and Indian Cultures. For years, we believed that these detox or purification rituals would cleanse our body, mind, and spirit. This is until about 100 years ago, when scientists showed that these detox and cleansing methods weren’t doing anything for the body. So if we’ve known this for a century, what changed for us to believe they work now?

These days, detox/cleansing companies claim we need to rid our bodies from these new “toxins” caused by food additives, GMOs, salt, gluten, etc. They also state that these new toxins are the cause of all your problems: being overweight, tired, chronic headaches, cancer or just being unhappy.

What is a toxin?

By definition, a toxin is “a poisonous substance and especially one that is produced by a living thing” (Merriam-Webster). Some examples include drugs, alcohol, and heavy metals. So what toxins are in our bodies right now caused by eating that slice of gluten and additive-filled salty pizza slice containing GMO tomatoes?

THERE ARE NO TOXINS. (If I knew how to make this sparkle and rotate I would)

It’s simply marketing. Have you noticed that they never name a toxin? Have you ever found a study that shows we have long-lasting effects from the toxins in our body caused by our new agricultural practices?

Yes, some people do have toxins in their body because they have a medical issue, and
they are very sick because of this. You, on the other hand, probably do not. And even if you temporarily produce a toxin, our bodies have their own detox system: it is composed of our skin, kidneys, lymphatic system, gastrointestinal system, and liver. So unless you have a liver problem, you’ll be ok and toxin-free! 

detox piktochart
How toxins are processed in someone with a healthy liver vs diseases liver

Despite the sound science and medical advice, our increasing knowledge of biology, and better scientific methods, the idea still persists today (did I mention that these practices were proven ineffective?)

How do detox/cleanses work?

Since we just saw that we don’t have any toxins, how do they even work and why do people claim to lose weight with them? Weight loss is mostly calories in – calories out. Most detox programs are very low in calories. So if you’re eating less, you lose weight. Why change our habits when we can just drink a product? One problem with that is that most of the pounds shed are water weight and not fat. But that’s not all! The drastic decrease in calories, often below your needs, can have other consequences:

  1. Fatigue and mood swings: Not regularly eating can cause your blood-sugar levels to go down. You generally feel tired, foggy, moody, irritable, and unwell overall. 
  2. Weight gain: Without a new supply of calories, your system shifts into starvation mode in an effort to conserve energy. Your metabolism slows, so when you do eventually eat, your body stores everything just in case you decide to drastically cut calories again. And after your detox program is done, there is a good chance you’ll go back to your old habits because you missed them so much. The old habits were problem to begin with. 

Then how can I lose the weight?

Weight loss is a gradual change. In order to maintain our muscle and lose fat, we need to lose weight at a rate of about 1-2 lbs per week. The best way to do that is to break up our objective into specific goals, such as eating 2 fruits per day or walking 30 minutes per day and then readjusting whenever necessary. 

If you find yourself often going from one diet to another with no long-term success, consider trying mindful eating practices. I encourage you to have a look at my ultimate nutrition group program starting February 1st 2016. ⇒ Ultimate Nutrition Program Info


Gavura, S. (2014, January 2). The Detox Scam: How to spot it, and how to avoid it. Retrieved January 13, 2016.

Kuzma, C. (2015, July 22). 8 Things That Happen When You Skip A Meal. Retrieved January 13, 2016.


3 thoughts

    1. Hi Kathleen, you are right, but these cases are rare. And if that is the case, the only way to remove these toxins are with medication and a medical team. The detoxes and cleanses that are marketed and on the shelves don’t remove the toxins you mentioned, because they don’t remove anything, other than the money in your wallet


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