It’s easy to see why a detox diet might sound appealing—just look at the language surrounding the trend. Rid your body of toxins. Jump-start your weight loss. Rev up your metabolism. In theory, it sounds like a great option. All you have to do is suffer through a few days, weeks, or months of restrictive eating. That doesn’t sound so hard, right?
The problem with detox diets is the same as with all fad diets: they offer a quick fix when what your body really needs is a lifestyle change. Sure, you can consume only water with lemon, maple syrup and cayenne pepper for 10 days and you’ll almost certainly lose some weight, but you’ll also be more likely to overcompensate after starving your body, putting the pounds right back on. You can try subsisting on only fresh-squeezed juices or eating only fruits and vegetables, but you won’t be magically gifted with the body you’ve always wanted.
Here’s the thing: even if you aren’t entering into a detox diet with a goal of losing weight, medical professionals say the idea of needing to “rid your body of toxins” isn’t based on facts. Thanks to your liver and kidneys, your body is already doing a great job of eliminating toxins on its own.
However, there are some healthier alternatives that allow you to still experience a “cleansed” feeling without having to starve yourself. Here are four ways to feel healthier without a detox diet.
Drink More Water
It might seem like the oldest trick in the book, but there’s a very good reason so many doctors tout the benefits of drinking water. A hydrated body functions better than a water-deprived body on both the inside and the outside. Getting in a few extra glasses a day can improve your hair and skin, aid digestion, increase your energy and boost your immunity. Try starting the day with a glass of warm water with a squeeze of lemon or lime. It can jump-start your digestion, boost your immunity and even improve your appearance.
Get More Sleep
Fitting in the recommended amount of sleep (seven to nine hours for adults) is most important for your brain health, but it can also aid in weight loss. Lack of sleep can cause your metabolism to slow down and make you more likely to engage in mindless eating that leads to weight gain.
Clean Up Your Diet
The detox diets do all tend to have one good nugget of advice in common: eating too much of the wrong foods can be toxic for your body. Clean up your eating by consuming more vegetables, fruits and whole grains as part of a well-rounded eating healthy diet. Try to buy higher quality meat and fish when you can and limit processed foods.
Sweat It Out
While you’ve probably heard that sweating can help rid your body of toxins, there isn’t much scientific research to support these claims. Your sweat is made up of water, sodium, chloride, potassium and a very small amount of toxins. As we said above, your liver and kidneys steal the show when it comes to eliminating toxins. But that’s not to say exercise can’t help get you into a detoxed mindset. Regular exercise is good for your body for a large number of reasons, but it also functions as a great stress reliever.
If you want to lose weight and take better care of your body, don’t look to a liquid-only diet or fall for false cleansing claims. Instead, make positive lifestyle changes that help your body function as well as it can.
Ready to quit fad diets once and for all? Download our free guide, “The Truth About Fad Diets.”