The Truth About Cleanses

My friend and fitness expert Mark Fisher sums up the topic of cleanses nicely: “If eating food leaves you full of toxins… perhaps we should seriously consider the quality of the food you eat.”

If you like “cleanses,” I know how you feel. I started doing them as a teenager, and loved how I felt – especially the temporary freedom from bloating and gas. It only took me seven years, but eventually a few things occurred to me:

      Maybe I shouldn’t be bloated, gassy, tired and achy most of the time.


  • Maybe my normal diet (which was 100% plant based, and endorsed by experts) did not actually agree with me.
  • Maybe the only reason cleanses make me feel better is because they give my body a break from my normal diet.

Weight loss

Unfortunately, it seems like “cleanses” are a socially acceptable way to go on a crash diet (technically low calorie diets are semi-starvation diets, but marketers dislike this term). Starvation or near starvation intake can help quickly shed a few pounds, but it’s almost always at the expense of the most important part of weight loss – keeping it off.

If you look a few months or years down the line, you’ll see that 98% of these people end up as fat or fatter than when they started. The reasons are in the mind and the body. Mentally: using a “quick fix” sets you up for a vicious cycle, and when the cleanse or diet breaks you most people will see themselves as the failure. Physically: There are negative changes to your metabolism, thyroid function, and more. all of which slowly make it easier for your body to get and stay fat.

What about detoxing?

Here’s one of the best quotes I’ve read on “detoxing”: “The body’s own detoxification systems are remarkably sophisticated and versatile. They have to be, as the natural environment that we evolved in is hostile. It is remarkable that people are prepared to risk seriously disrupting these systems with unproven ‘detox’ diets, which could well do more harm than good.” Professor Alan Boobis OBE, Toxicologist, Division of Medicine, Imperial College London.

Basically it seems like a made up word. Nobody can clearly define what “detoxing” is, but the word still sells books, pills and $200 cleansing kits. Cleansing is not without its risks.

The Bottom Line

If you want to lose weight, feel better, and have more energy, (who doesn’t?) then do yourself a favor and focus on the next 12 months not the next 12 hours. Focus on treating yourself right with nutrition and exercise most of the time, and with patience you’ll get the energy and the body you want in way that you can actually sustain. The only free cheese is in a mouse trap.

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