The Dirty Truth Behind Those “Celebrity” Cleanses

Your best friend just bought a one-week detox kit from Whole Foods, your sister raves about this lemon-juice-and-pepper cleanse, and your mom swears by a “colonic purging” she gets at her neighborhood spa.

Break the news to them gently. They’re all doing potentially irreversible damage with these programs that are heavy in price but weak on science.

The Truth About Cleanses

Here’s the deal: The Master Cleanse and similar cleanses are almost entirely sugar and provide little, if any, nutrients. Even worse, they lack protein.

Without protein, your body can’t effectively detox. I’ll spare you the technical biochemistry, but understand the two phases of detoxification, and you’ll see how people throw away their money and health on these store-bought and homemade concoctions…

Put simply, your liver is detox ground zero. Everything that detoxifies goes through your liver in two phases. During the first phase, your liver converts fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble substances. In phase two, your liver excretes these water-soluble toxins via urine, sweat, and other bodily fluids.

Here’s the takeaway: if you don’t have protein, your liver can’t perform that second phase. That means highly toxic metabolites hang around and wreak havoc in your body.

And let's be honest here: most people do cleanses for fast weight loss, not true detox. Maybe you want to burn 10 pounds before your friend's wedding or work fast to fit into a smaller pair of jeans. You’ll probably lose some weight on these super low-calorie, near-starvation diets. But most of that weight loss comes not from fat, but water and lean muscle tissue. You’re literally wasting your body away.

You're also sending messages to your body that it's a time of stress, which means you're more likely to actually hang on to your fat stores, even after you finish the “cleanse.”

How to Detox Right

Now that you know better, how do you choose a smart plan that includes plenty of protein and nutrients to help your body effectively detox? If you want directions and recipes for a complete, healthy 7-day cleanse, grab the free guide at the end of this blog.

In the meantime, start by dumping the processed foods, gluten, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, and caffeine. (If you’re a monster without your morning Starbucks, gradually taper off the coffee.) Replace them with the healthy foods listed below.

And if you want an extra boost of detoxifying greens and protein, you can also add a scoop of Green Smoothie Cleanse to your morning shake or glass of almond milk.

It's got 18 grams of vegan-friendly protein per serving, plus amazing nutrition from 14 whole fruits and veggies, including 7 types of greens. (And with a yummy strawberry-vanilla flavor, there's no more holding your nose while you gulp down terrible green drinks…)

So what else should you eat while you’re detoxing?

  1. Clean, lean organic protein. Have 4-6 ounces of grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, chicken, or turkey at each meal or eat high-protein plants like lentils and legumes. Protein shakes also make the perfect high-protein meal replacement. (Check out some great shake recipes here.)

  2. Sulfur-containing foods. Broccoli, cabbage, and onions all provide sulfur to boost the seocnd phase of detoxification.

  3. Go green. Enjoy loads of preferably organic leafy greens. If you’re not meeting your veggie quota, add some cilantro, which is a natural heavy metal chelator, into your meals or sneak some kale into your protein shake. (You won't taste it!)

  4. Fiber. If you're not eliminating, you're not detoxifying! Legumes, raw nuts and seeds, berries, apples, and lentils come packed with fiber. Always buy organic if you can. Aim for 50 grams of fiber a day.

  5. Water. Pure spring water in between meals supports healthy digestion. I also like antioxidant-rich organic green tea and coconut water to supply your body with electrolytes.

Not only will you get a detox boost from these foods and drinking plenty of water, you're also setting up your system to burn fat and build muscle every day. I'll take that over going hungry or a fridge full of expensive designer sugar water every time!

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