‘Detox’ diets might seem like a quick-fix solution to your health and fitness woes but in reality they often make you ‘fatter and sadder’, according to experts.
Joe Warner, editor of Men’s Fitness, explained many people plump for these extreme food plans, which often involve giving up a food group or dramatically cutting calories, because they’re looking to see results fast.
In his new book, The SHIFT56 System, Warner writes: ‘Over time if we eat fewer calories than we burn, we lose weight; if we eat more calories than we burn, we gain weight…But that doesn’t mean all diets are equal in helping you lose weight, or improving your health and happiness.’
In fact so-called ‘detox’ diets – also known as a ‘cleanse’ or a ‘metabolic reset’ can upset your biological systems, sometimes with lasting and potentially dangerous effects.
Here, in an excerpt from his new book shared exclusively with FEMAIL, Warner reveals the five reasons why detox diets are so dangerous…
Hidden dangers: Detox diets can have long-term negative effects on the body as they upset the internal systems, a new book by Men’s Fitness editor Joe Warner reveals
Problem 1: You mess up your fluid balance
Why is this bad? Many quick-fix or fad diets ‘work’ because when you first start restricting your food intake or cut out certain nutrients to reduce your daily calorie consumption, you will lose weight.
A big problem is that it’s not fat that you’ve lost – it’s water. And that’s the last thing you want to happen. This is one reason detox diets are so incredibly dangerous. They can negatively affect your body’s fluid and salt (better known as electrolyte) balance, which means you can lose a lot of water and salts very quickly. Disrupting fluid and electrolyte balance will result in dehydration, which will make you look, feel and perform far worse than normal.
Take things too far and these dangers become much more serious because your body depends on fluid and electrolyte balance for maintaining the rhythm of your heart, as well as many other very important functions.
So if you’re ever tempted to try one of those so-called ‘detox diets’, remember that you might see a lower number on the bathroom scale after a few days but any weight lost is probably water, rather than that body fat you really want to shift.
Warner warns: ‘Remember that you might see a lower number on the bathroom scale after a few days but any weight lost is probably water, rather than that body fat you want to shift’
Problem 2: You starve your body of nutrients
Why is this bad? Almost all quick-fix diets are based on severely restricting your daily calorie intake by cutting out specific types of foods or eliminating food groups entirely.
This means that these diets don’t provide some, or even many, of the essential nutrients your body needs to function at its best – whether that’s fats, protein or vitamins and minerals. So they will dramatically affect how ‘healthy’ you look and feel.
You may suffer physical signs, such as dry, pale or dull skin, aching joints and muscles, feelings of lethargy and weakness, or trouble falling and staying asleep, as well as a wide range of mental symptoms, not limited to constant hunger, low energy and constant fatigue, bad moods, and dire levels of focus, motivation and concentration.
This will make you feel absolutely awful in the short term and cause you to question whether all these negative side effects are worth it. (They’re not.) But it has an even more serious impact on your long-term health, fitness and general well-being.
Quick-fix diets can starve your bodies of nutrients, making you feel lethargic and irritable
Problem 3: Your metabolism slows down
Why is this bad? Your body’s job, evolutionarily speaking, is to stop you starving to death. So your body pays very close attention to how much you’re eating. When you suddenly start eating less your body makes adjustments to prevent starvation. Your metabolism slows down to conserve energy, and many other changes occur.
Your digestive tract moves food through more slowly to extract as much energy and as many nutrients as possible (which can cause digestive issues, such as bloating or constipation); your repair and recovery processes slow down so you don’t heal as fast; and there’s a reduced production of important hormones, including the primary sex hormones oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
When your metabolism slows, your body decides you need even less energy to survive, which means you now must further reduce your calorie intake from food to get into that calorie deficit to lose weight! This creates a vicious cycle in which your body, over time, requires fewer and fewer calories to function, making it harder to lose weight even when you’re eating far less than before.
Problem 4: Your appetite roars back
Why is this bad? Have you ever wondered what makes you feel hungry? Or full? Appetite is controlled by a series of feedback loops in the digestive system and the brain. There are also sensors in our fat cells that tell our brain how full our fat stores are. If there’s a lack of food being eaten, these feedback loops and sensors compensate by making you really hungry.
Warner shares more insights in The SHIFT56 System
No matter how strong your willpower and motivation, your brain’s ‘don’t starve’ system is always stronger. Eventually you quit the diet (because it’s unsustainable and you’re miserable) and resume eating normally. But you now need fewer calories than before because of your slower metabolism, so you gain back the weight you lost – and more – because your brain is sending all the excess energy to fill up your fat stores in an effort to make sure you don’t ‘starve’ again. You’ll think about food more often – and hence eat more too. This is a major reason so many people end up yo-yo dieting and gain body fat rather than losing it.
Problem 5: You get stuck in a vicious cycle
Why is this bad? There are many physiological problems caused by quick-fix diets, but one of the biggest is the damaging habits that they cause people to adopt.
To lose weight and keep it off, you must make some simple and sustainable habit changes.
You can get your FREE download of The SHIFT56 System Power Breakfast guide at shift56.com. The SHIFT56 System is available from Amazon now.