Read about the pros and cons of cleanse diets for weight loss. Some work, and some may totally backfire.
When it comes to weight loss, some people will do almost anything. Case in point: fad diets such as the Master Cleanse. Master Cleanse is a liquids-only, low-calorie diet designed for very rapid weight loss.
Master Cleanse and others like it raise many questions on safety and results. But are all cleanse diets bad? It depends on the type of cleanse diet — and whom you ask.
Weight Loss: The Dangers of Cleanse Diets
After hearing that Beyonce used the Master Cleanse to lose weight for her role in the movie Dreamgirls, Sharon Wren of East Moline, decided to try it herself. “I could stand to lose a couple of pounds, and my system is probably horribly polluted from all the Diet Mountain Dew I drink, so I mixed up a glass,” she recalls. “One sip was enough for me — it was the most hideous stuff I’ve ever had.”
Consisting of two quarts of water, one-half teaspoon of cayenne pepper, 14 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 14 tablespoons of maple syrup per day (for anywhere from 7 to 10 days), the Master Cleanse is an example of the wrong type of cleanse diet.
Despite its 1,400 or so calories, the Master Cleanse does not provide the body with the nutrition it needs. It is lacking in protein, sodium, and most vitamins. Diets like this are a real danger, and I would never recommend them.
Weight loss almost certainly occurs, but from all the wrong places. Ideally, reduction in weight from a diet happens by losing fat, but with the Master Cleanse most of what disappears is muscle and water.
Cleanses may lead to weight loss, but usually the weight returns once normal eating resumes, similar to what happens with dieting. These types of diets may cause emotional issues, as well. A cleanse may set someone up for disordered eating. People who go on cleanses will likely find themselves inordinately hungry, leading to feelings of deprivation. This may backfire in the form of overeating once they’ve finished the cleanse.
Weight Loss: Exploring Your Options
Fortunately, not all cleanse diets are as extreme as the Master Cleanse. The Elimination Diet, for example, focuses on cutting out certain foods from your diet (such as dairy, egg products, most red meats, peanuts, foods with gluten, citrus fruits, corn and corn-containing products, all processed foods, and caffeine) while encouraging five small meals a day that include protein, unlimited vegetables, and one to two servings each of gluten-free grain and fruit.
On this diet, I have seen people lose significant amounts of body fat and gain muscle by eating healthier sources of protein and reducing inflammation (people who are inflamed or eating lots of allergenic foods will tend to carry a lot of extra water weight. This diet may be more difficult for people because it requires a strict lifestyle change, but I like that it is purely food-based and does not require supplements.
Another type of cleanse diet, the three- to 10-day juice and soup fast, consists of a fruit smoothie (3 romaine lettuce leaves, 2 stalks of celery, 1 cup of water, and 4 cups of a fruit of your choice) blended and drunk through the morning and into the early afternoon. The rest of the day’s nutrition comes from any combination of cooked vegetables (no oil or salt) blended up into 1 to 2 cups of soup.
Juice fasting is an effective method of ridding your body of impurities. You’ll cleanse your digestive system and circulatory system and also give your liver, kidneys, pancreas, and digestive system a rest.
Weight Loss: The Pros and Cons of Cleanse Diets
Ultimately, the safety — and success — of a cleanse diet depends on the diet itself. No reputable doctor or nutritionist would support the Master Cleanse. If the cleanse is a starvation-type diet used as a ‘crash diet,’ then not only would it not be safe, but the person may end up losing muscle mass in the process, which over time can lead to increased body fat gain. However, if the cleanse is used as an entry point into a healthy diet and lifestyle and provides adequate calories, protein, and nutrients, then generally it would be a safe way to lose weight.
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