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Detox Diets 101

One shorter term diet program that is starting to grow more popular amongst the health and fitness crowd is the detox diet. Detox diets are not typically meant to be used as a weight-loss method, although some will use it to kick-start another, more moderate diet program. Rather, a detox diet is a way to help cleanse the body, reducing the amount of toxic build-up you have in your system and to help you feel much healthier.

Keep in mind that there are different names used to refer to the different detox diets. In some cases they are called ‘cleansing’ diets (such as the master cleanse), while others are referred to as ‘juice fasts’ or simply a ‘fast’.

Here is the information you need to know about detox diets.

Allowable Foods
Some detox diets will allow you an unlimited amount of fruits and vegetables while others allow a greater variety of natural foods such as fruits, vegetables, rice, beans, nuts and seeds. Usually, these types of detox diets are less about the low-calorie aspect and more about ridding the body of unnatural substances or chemicals that are in many of the foods we eat.

One detox diet as referred to in the introduction is the Master Cleanse diet. This version of the detox diet is much more intense than some others and will require you to drink a concoction you create yourself using maple syrup, cayenne pepper or ginger, lemon juice and water. There are different variations on this diet. In one version you will just consume this beverage for ten days in a row, while other variations are more relaxed --either allowing for more food while consuming the drink or set-up so you will just use the drink on one of the days during the week on a continual basis.

Muscle Maintenance Considerations

The primary thing that you’re going to need to be concerned with when using a detox diet is muscle maintenance. Due to the fact that on some of the more rigid versions out there, if you stay on them long enough, you will be putting yourself at risk for losing muscle mass.

Since your muscle mass is the primary determinant of your metabolic rate, this proves to be very detrimental to you in the long run since muscle mass isn’t an easy tissue to just add back on. If you do not use a detox diet safely, you could wind up wasting away months of previous hard work in the gym.

Other Noticeable Side Effects

Some of the other side effects that you might begin to experience while on a detox diet are that your energy levels begin to plummet. If you are going from a relatively moderate or typically high calorie intake to a dramatically low calorie intake, immediately the body is going to sense this decline and will cause the body to feel fatigued, helping to keep you from performing larger volumes of activity so it can conserve what few calories you are actually giving it.

If you are doing the Master Cleanse diet and are using maple syrup, because of the fact this provides a quick burst of glucose with little to no protein or fat to balance it out, you’re also likely to see extreme blood sugar spikes followed by crashes, making you feel irritable, hungry, and very unwell.

With the lack of proper sodium and potassium intake on many of these diets, you may also begin to feel light-headed or dizzy. This feeling will be intensified if you already suffer from low blood pressure.

It should be noted too that any weight you do lose while you pursue a short-term detox diet (1-3 days) is very likely to immediately come back on after you go off it because it will primarily just be lost water in the system.

Duration Of The Detox Diet

Another factor to consider as you look at starting up on a detox diet is how long you will stay on it. The longer you stay on a detox diet, regardless of how much they say it’s going to help you ‘cleanse’, the more at risk you are for nutritional deficiencies.

Almost all detox diets are going to be short on nutrition, except for those that are focusing on a wide variety of foods. When you’re looking at short-term detox diets, say three days or less, you likely aren’t going to run into too many issues apart from the fatigue discussed above. After that, you’re not going to be getting enough water-soluble vitamins for good health and may run into problems. If you’re going past the three day mark on a diet that contains fewer than 800 calories, you’re likely to see the metabolic rate start really slowing down as well as muscle loss taking place. If you are choosing to pursue a detox diet, you’re going to be far better off keeping it to one or two days at most.

Exercise Considerations While On The Detox Diet

It is very important that you also pay attention to your exercise levels while on a detox diet. Your best bet is to take the few days (or however long you are on the detox diet) off exercise completely as your body simply won’t have the energy reserves to deal with the demands that exercise places upon it.

If you attempt to continue on with the same volume and intensity as you were using before, you’re going to speed up the muscle loss process since you will be depleting muscle glycogen levels at an accelerated pace. Far too many people make this mistake thinking that they will speed the fat loss by working out while having this extreme caloric deficit. It is this thinking pattern though that gets them into big trouble.

If you are adamant about doing some form of exercise while you’re on the detox diet, consider simple walking for fifteen to thirty minutes instead at an easy pace. This will help to keep the body limber and speed up the cleansing process by improving blood flow throughout the tissues, delivering oxygen while removing waste. Be sure you are not pushing yourself however, as this exercise is simply for movement’s sake, not performance enhancement.

Making Detox Diets More Practical

If you are really interested in trying a detox diet but aren’t so crazy about all the side effects that go along with it, consider constructing your own variation of detox diet that will still help cleanse the body without putting you at so much risk.

If you choose to eat the way ‘mother nature intended’ – that is, eating plenty of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, along with at least one gram of very lean protein each day (white fish and egg whites work great for this purpose), you will still be taking in plenty of nutrients without jeopardizing your energy levels or nutritional status. While eating in this manner, also try and consume at least 10 glasses of water or unsweetened herbal or green tea each day to fully cleanse the system and ensure proper hydration.

You could carry on this type of diet for a much longer duration of time – two to three weeks at least – but be aware that without the addition of more complex, calorie-dense sources of carbohydrates you may still find that energy levels are a bit sluggish. If you’re doing intense workout sessions each day, simple fruits and vegetables may not be enough to fully cover the energy cost of these exercises. In that case, consider adding foods like brown rice, potatoes, oatmeal, or quinoa. These will be a more calorie-dense source of carbohydrates that will be especially good to have right around the workout period.

Be sure you do some research before jumping onto a detox diet. If you aren’t careful, you could really do some serious damage to your body despite your quest to improve your health.

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