Fitness MagazineBy Jocelyn Voo
So-called detox diets, like the Master Cleanse, are seen as a quick way to lose weight, especially among celebrities like Oprah and Gwyneth Paltrow. But what is a detox diet? Is it a healthy way to cleanse your body, or a dangerous way to lose weight? FITNESS took a hard look at a few popular detox diets, assessing each one based on the nutritional value, liver-cleansing value, and their ability to help you start a long-term healthy eating habit. Read on for our findings.
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Also known as: The Lemonade Diet, The Maple Syrup Diet
Who created it: Stanley Burroughs, an alternative health enthusiast and author of The Master Cleaner, published in the 1950s. Burroughs, however, was convicted of practicing medicine without a license in 1960, and faced other criminal charges in 1984, including illegal sale of cancer treatments and second-degree felony murder. The latter charge stemmed from Burroughs treating a man for cancer by feeding him his touted lemonade formula, exposing him to colored lights, and giving him deep massages. The man agreed to Burroughs' treatment, but became significantly sicker under Burroughs' care, and ultimately died. Eventually, the murder charge was reduced to involuntary manslaughter.
What it promises: To cleanse the body of toxins and obliterate cravings for junk food, alcohol, and tobacco.
How it works: For 10 days you'll drink 6 to 10 glasses of "lemonade" (made of water, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper) a day. You'll also drink a glass of salt water in the morning and a laxative tea at night.
How much it costs: A variety of retailers sell Master Cleanse kits at various price points. Or you can just go to the grocery store and buy the ingredients yourself.
Who's tried it: Singer Beyonce Knowles, actor Jared Leto
FITNESS says: Avoid it. "This can be dangerous," says Mary Jane Detroyer, a New York-based registered dietitian and exercise physiologist, citing the low-calorie intake and lack of research to substantiate the diet's claims. "It could be stressful on your GI tract because you don't eat any solid food for 10 days. And I don't know why you would need a laxative while on the fast if it's an all liquid diet."
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Martha's Vineyard Diet Detox
Also known as: 21 Pounds in 21 Days
Who created it: Roni DeLuz, RN, ND, a licensed naturopath and founder and director of The Martha's Vineyard Holistic Retreat at the Martha's Vineyard Inn.
What it promises: Though it claims not to be "a so-called 'weight loss diet'" on its Web site, it also claims that you'll lose 21 pounds in 21 days on their 3-week "MasterFast" plan. It also claims to give you more energy and lower blood pressure.
How it works: No solid food here: you'll drink fruit and veggie juices, protein shakes, herbal teas and cleansing drinks, broths and soups, and lots of water. The plan also encourages the intake of supplements and vitamins (which can be bought off the Web site). Users are also instructed to have weekly colonics and coffee enemas.
How much it costs: $199 for the 21-day program and 9-day "maintenance package." Does not include the price of the book, enzyme pills or (necessary) juicer. Book retails for $24.96.
Who tried it: Robin Quivers, Howard Stern's radio sidekick
FITNESS says: Avoid it. Three weeks with no solid food is "too extreme," says Detroyer. Plus, "nobody needs enemas or colonics. There is absolutely no research to support [their benefits], and I think it could be dangerous. It could dehydrate you if you are not adequately replacing lost fluids."
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Liver Cleansing Diet
Who created it: Sandra McRae, MD, a licensed doctor in Australia, who goes by the pen name Sandra Cabot.
What it promises: To improve liver function, which will help a variety of ailments, including bloating, digestion, fatigue, moodiness, IBS, high cholesterol, allergies, headaches, and sugar cravings.
How it works: The 8-week program advises you to eat lots of raw fruits and vegetables (no cooking), some proteins (grains, raw nuts, seeds, legumes, eggs, skinless chicken, lean red meat, fish). Avoid all dairy products, fried foods, processed foods, excessive alcohol, and refined sugars. Drink at least 2 liters of water, raw juice, or tea every day. Eat organic foods if you can. Take daily liver tonic capsules (which can be bought on her Web site).
How much it costs: A variety of tablets are sold on her Web site, including liver cleaning capsules at $50 for 250. Book retails for $19.95.
FITNESS says: Avoid it. Though the eating plan on its own could be healthy if the follower is vigilant about calcium intake (thereby compensating up for the lack of dairy in the plan), the addition of liver cleansing pills is a red flag. "This plan is recommended for people who have liver problems. But how do people know if they have problems?" says Detroyer. "This plan could be good for anyone whose liver is stressed, but they should be working with their physician for that." Following this diet without medical consultation could be harmful in that the herbs found within the pills could interfere with medication or trigger an allergic reaction.
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Peter Tak/Fitness MagazineThe 3-Day Fruit Flush Diet
Who created it: Jay Robb, a nutritionist and former personal trainer.
What it promises: A 10-pound weight-loss in 3 days.
How it works: On Day 1, drink protein shakes. On Day 2 and 3, you'll eat fresh fruits every two hours (no frozen, dried, or canned fruits allowed) and a dinner of raw, nonstarchy veggies and a bit of lean protein. Avoid cooked vegetables, caffeine, alcohol, most fats, sugars, and all beverages except filtered water. Do not exercise during the three days, although "light walking for 20 minutes may be okay," according to the Web site.
How much it costs: Book retails for $5.00.
FITNESS says: Be wary of it. Yes, you will lose weight on this diet because of the low-calorie food intake, but it'll mostly be water weight. But will it detox you? "Well, you're not going to be putting a lot of artificial ingredients, saturated fat, sugar and processed grains into your body except for the pesticides and fertilizers used to grow the fruits and vegetables, so in a way, yes," says Detroyer. However, over an extended period of time, you may miss out on nutrients. "There's a lack of fat in this diet, so after a long period of time you may not be absorbing the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K."
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The Fast Track One-Day Detox Diet
Who created it: Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, a nutritionist.
What it promises: The diet claims to flush toxins from your body, boost your metabolism, and help you lose 3 to 8 pounds.
How it works: This diet actually lasts 11 days, not one day: there's a 7-day preparation "prequel" stage, a one-day fast, and a 3-day "sequel" stage. Prepare to get intimate with your toilet: during the preparation stage, you'll eat one to three of the "liver-loving" foods or supplements (e.g., broccoli, leafy green veggies, oranges, Brussels sprouts, eggs), at least one "colon-loving" food or supplement (e.g., carrots, apples, berries), two servings of lean protein, one or two tablespoons of flaxseed or olive oil, and plenty of water. Avoid all fats, sugars, refined carbs, gluten-containing foods, alcohol, caffeine, and drugs. During the one-day fast, you'll alternate drinking one cup of water and one cup of "Miracle Juice" (made with water, unsweetened cranberry juice, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and stevia), downing one cup of fluid every hour the entire day -- a huge amount of fluid. You'll also take one colon-loving supplement in the morning and one at night. The sequel stage is like a three-day version of the first stage, except you'll also be eating at least one daily serving of raw sauerkraut or lowfat yogurt with live, active cultures.
How much it costs: Book retails for $12.95.
FITNESS says: Try it, but proceed with caution. This diet could make you feel gassy and bloated, thanks to the fibrous foods, and you'll likely be making many a trip to the bathroom. However, this plan does include healthy oils, protein, and fruits and veggies. "For the short term, this really can't hurt you because you're only fasting for one day," says Detroyer.
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Dr. Joshi's Holistic Detox
Who created it: Nish Joshi, a licensed physician in conventional medicine who's also studied holistic healthcare, and founder of The Joshi Clinic.
What it promises: To return your body to its natural alkaline balance by altering the pH of your system with food. The diet will improve your metabolism and break your cravings for toxins like caffeine, sugar, and salt.
How it works: During this 21-day detox, you'll eat white meat, brown rice, dark green vegetables, certain fish, gluten-free breads, and soy products. Avoid acidic foods like red meat, most dairy, fruit (except bananas), wheat, yeast, alcohol, sugars, coffee or tea, or artificial foods or flavorings. Drink lots of water.
How much it costs: Book retails for $19.95.
Who's tried it: Gwyneth Paltrow
FITNESS says: Try it, but proceed with caution. For the most part, "this is a healthy diet," says Detroyer. If you do follow this plan, make sure you're consuming adequate amounts of vitamin C, a challenge since the diet bans most fruits. It's also important to eat the right dark, leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, kale and asparagus, to ensure you get enough calcium, given the ban on dairy. However, "I don't know if it's sustainable for most people," says Detroyer, citing the lack of fruit. "It sounds a little too restrictive."
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Gwyneth Paltrow's Latest Detox Diet
Who created it: Paltrow, who based it on the guidelines from her physician, Dr. Alejandro Junger, a New York-based cardiologist and raw food fan.
What it promises: A detoxification of the body.
How it works: Paltrow's diet itself is heavily plant-based with very little meat. A sample day's menu includes a glass of room-temperature lemon water and herbal tea in the morning, a blueberry and almond smoothie for breakfast, coconut water, a salad with carrot and ginger dressing for lunch, a handful of mixed pumpkin and sunflower seeds for a snack, and broccoli and arugula soup for dinner. Followers of the diet are also encouraged to do deep breathing or gentle yoga, ingest a few spoonfuls of extra virgin olive oil at night, drink half a cup of castor oil or take a mild herbal laxative if constipation occurs, and eat whole organic foods.
How much it costs: No cost.
Who's tried it: Gwyneth Paltrow
FITNESS says: Be wary of it. Detroyer says that deep breathing and yoga exercises can be beneficial, as "chronic stress causes elevated glucose levels and lipid levels, which are toxic to the body." Moreover, the diet itself has very good things in it. "Vegetable soup and smoothies are wonderful," she says. "But there's very few calories in there. If you're trying to sustain yourself working, you may become extremely lightheaded, shaky, and irritable." In addition to the problematic very low-calorie diet, the plan included olive oil and laxative suggestions, which Detroyer deemed unnecessary. "If people were to be eating the appropriate amount of fiber, which is about 25 to 30 grams a day from fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, and drinking lots of fluid and getting regular exercise, most people won't be having [bowel] problems."
Note: Detroyer stresses that if anyone is going to try any of the plans listed, it should be approved by a doctor first, especially if the person is taking a medication or has a medical condition.
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Fitness MagazineBy Jocelyn Voo