Fad Diets and Detoxing

I’m going to preface this with a warning – if you’re an advocate of fad diets or detoxes / cleanses, you may want to find a different post to read.  I don’t want to start your day off on the wrong foot, or make you question everything you believe to be true.

Alright, now that the serious stuff is taken care of, let’s chat about these two lovely topics. They’re EVERYWHERE – all over the cover of fitness and tabloid magazines, TV commercials, and radio ads. I’ve lost count how many times co-workers or peers have asked me about detox plans, or X, Y, Z diet plans. As soon as the sentence starts, (“hey, have you ever heard of …”), my skin starts to crawl and I feel my defense system rearing its head. Defending what, exactly? The dignity of health and wellness, that’s what.

The selection of fad diets is endless! Why would you want to live off cabbage soup??

The selection of fad diets is endless! Why would you want to live off cabbage soup??

Feeling fad?

The simple definition of “fad” should be telling enough to keep you away – “an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived and without basis in the object’s qualities; a craze”. However, to give some benefit, it’s not like these diets are explicitly marketed as fads… you need to read between the lines a little bit.

Warning signs to look for:

  • Extremely low calorie counts
  • Removing a food or food group (e.g., carbs, dairy)
  • Only eating one food or food group
  • Relying on supplements or “fake” (processed) foods for most meals
  • Big promises for weight loss in a short time frame

FYI – safe weight loss rates are 1 – 2 lbs per week, on average. This might mean some weeks you don’t lose anything, and then lose 4 lbs the following week – this is fine. Look at the average over 4 – 6 weeks to see how you’re doing.

What’s my problem with fad diets? Usually they’re unsustainable for the long-term due to their restrictive nature, they don’t teach you proper nutrition habits, and don’t provide the proper vitamin, mineral, and nutrients for health. They lead to the yo-yo pattern of weight loss, followed by a greater weight gain, which is hard on a person mentally and physically. Why does yo-yoing happen? After being on a restricted plan and missing your favorite foods for a length of time, once the “diet” is over and you’ve reached your goal weight… freedom! You welcome back all those foods you’ve missed, usually in excess. Moderation and balance weren’t part of the diet, so how were you supposed to learn it?? The surplus of calories you now take in adds up on your body. And quickly.


Here’s as good way to judge a diet: if you can’t see yourself living forever on X, Y, Z diet, it’s not a good option. Also, if a diet has a timeline (“only do this for 21 days, max”), you should know it’s not a healthy option! This timeline is given for health reasons and should be a giant red flag to you. Please don’t tell me you’re doing this diet just to “kick start” your weight loss – cleaning up your eating habits with a balanced plan will do the same thing… safely and in a maintainable fashion for LIFE.

Entering detox

Detox – A process or period of time in which one abstains from, or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances.

I’ll admit that I’ve used this term on numerous occasions to voice my need to limit some unhealthy habits (copious amounts of rye and diet coke a few years ago). But, I’ve never once attempted, or even thought about, taking on an actual detox or cleanse.

You don't need to buy products to detox your body - water is free, and you can just eat healthy. Then let your body do its job.

You don’t need to buy products to detox your body – water is free, and you can just eat healthy. Then let your body do its job.

What are they? Detox diets usually rely on using raw fruit / vegetables, juices, certain herbs and supplements, while following a restrictive diet in an effort to rid the body of toxins. Research hasn’t found detoxes to do any better of a job of eliminating toxins than healthy eating does. People may claim that they feel better after doing a detox, but it’s likely just from cutting down on the high fat and sugary foods in general – not the detox products.

This is what I believe –

We have this organ called a liver, and its main function is to break down waste in our body and carry it through our system for removal. It also helps the body absorb nutrients. Additionally, our kidneys filter waste from our blood, which is removed in our urine. Our body is a pretty impressive machine, made with all the parts it needs to function – including “cleaning” itself – hey, essentially that’s what detoxing is all about right?Obviously, if you have a medical condition which affects these organs, you’re likely working with a medical professional to keep things running properly.

So, if you treat your body right it can take care of itself. No need to pump it full of swamp-water drinks, nasty tasting teas, foreign foods no one can pronounce, or starve it of nutrients from real foods.

Staying hydrated all day is a great way to detox your body, adding fruit, vegetables, and herbs to your water can help boost the flavor and even add extra nutrients to your day.

Staying hydrated all day is a great way to detox your body, adding fruit, vegetables, and herbs to your water can help boost the flavor and even add extra nutrients to your day.

Remember, these are my thoughts and beliefs.  I don’t believe in fad diets, I believe in eating well year-round with a balanced diet – something that helps me reach my own personal goals and feeling good. I don’t believe in detoxes or cleanses because I make an effort to keep my body running well enough with healthy, whole foods and plenty of water, to do that job itself.

The bottom line – save your body and mind the stress of any of these things. Eat a healthy, balanced diet full of colorful fruit and vegetables, protein, carbs, and good fats. Wash it all down with plenty of water and make sure you get enough fibre to help everything flow through. These simple acts alone will help your body process everything, run optimally, and help manage your weight. Don’t over-complicate things!

About Ashleigh

I'm passionate about health and fitness. I work as a Health Promotion Specialist, a group fitness instructor, and also a coach for physique competitors / weight loss clients. I grew up as a competitive athlete, and have continued with this passion as a Women's Physique competitor. Research and writing is another interest of mine, which I use to share my knowledge with the general public.
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4 Responses to Fad Diets and Detoxing

  1. Sam @ PancakeWarriors says:

    This couldn’t be more true! The only detox I’ve done in the past 5 years was essentially eat super healthy foods (real foods and LOTS of them) to help reset your hunger cues and hormones. It essentially cut out processed and some natural sugars (liked dried fruits and dates) for 28 days, and I didn’t crave sugar at all after a week. So crazy! Yo-yo dieting is for the birds, I’d rather lose weight slowly and keep it off for good!

    • Ashleigh says:

      Exactly!! “Detox” by getting your eating habits under control and let your body do what it was made to do! I feel bad for the people who continue to fall for the fads with so much hope that it’ll be “this one” that solves their issue. 😦 Thanks for stopping by and commenting!!

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