“Try this 3-day detox to lose weight fast!” – Such quick fixes are quite common to see, and when you’re looking to trim a few pounds ahead of a special occasion you might be tempted to try them. In reality, even the best 3-day detox to lose weight might not give you the results you’re hoping for.
The reason for this is simple – most popular detoxes are too restrictive and too limited to cause any sustainable long-term change. However, there are more structured programs that can kickstart your weight loss journey. In this article, we will explore the science behind detoxes, and offer a better alternative to the 3-day detox cleanse to lose weight easily.
Does Your Body Need A Detox?
The short answer? No. There’s no amount of juice or tea that will truly detox your body. This is because the human body has a detoxification system which includes several organs.
The detoxification system is important for protecting our health and getting rid of the harmful substances we come into contact with every day (30). If any toxins get past these mechanisms, our bodies use other methods such as enzymes to neutralize them before they cause damage.
The organs that work together to eliminate waste and toxins from our bodies include:
Our first line of defense against toxins comes in the form of our skin. Our skin serves as a protective barrier against outside substances until they can be washed away (16). Heavy metals such as mercury pass through the pores in your skin into our bloodstream when you come into contact with them by eating or drinking something contaminated, bathing in tainted water, or breathing polluted air.
After the toxins pass through the pores in your skin, they are usually flushed away with water or sweat that mixes with them. Once you wash or wipe off these substances, their harmful effects end.
The second main function of the detoxification system is to deal with harmful substances once they have entered your bloodstream. While most toxins are neutralized by the skin, air-borne viruses and bacteria are still able to enter your body’s tissues without coming into contact with them.
However, our immune system is able to quickly identify these foreign invaders that get past the skin. White blood cells attack these viruses or bacteria, surrounding them. If this does not destroy them on its own, it will cause you to develop an immunity to them in future so that your body can fight off any infections more efficiently next time they try to invade (17).
Read More: What Comes Out Of Your Body When You Detox? A Look At The Toxins Your Body Flushes Out
Fine hairs inside the nose trap dirt and other large particles that may be inhaled. The mucus that coats these hairs protects the lungs from any bacteria or pollutants on them while they are moving slowly down into your throat, where you can swallow and get rid of them (7).
Intestines And Digestive System
The intestines can be another way that toxins enter our bodies if we eat something contaminated or spoiled. Peyer’s patches — lymph nodes in the small intestine — screen out parasites and other foreign substances before nutrients are absorbed into the blood from the colon (29).
Raw fruits and vegetables also contain enzymes called glycosides that aid in detoxification by breaking down these harmful substances so they can be safely passed through your digestive tract (5). This is why it’s important to thoroughly wash all produce before eating it so not too many nutrients are lost due to contamination.
One of the major functions of the liver is detoxification (24). Many of the toxins we come into contact with everyday go through a process known as methylation in the liver before they can be safely excreted through the digestive tract or urine. This process involves converting a toxin’s harmful free radical form to a more stable, harmless form of it so it can no longer cause damage to your body.
The Liver also contains an enzyme called glutathione-s-transferase that helps neutralize toxic substances by binding up heavy metals (27). The liver then sends these heavy metals into bile, which is sent into the intestines, where they are eventually removed from the body as waste.
The kidneys and urinary system filter out metabolic wastes such as urea and uric acid from your bloodstream as well as help remove water-soluble toxins like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide from body fluids. Once filtered, these wastes will be expelled from your body via urination (21).
What Is The Best Alternative To A 3-Day Detox?
Having a healthy, well-balanced diet, staying hydrated, and keeping active is the best alternative to restrictive and short-lived detox diets. Clean eating is the best alternative to detox diets.
What Is Clean Eating?
The term “clean eating” has been around for a while, but it has become more popular in the last few years. With this diet trend, there is a focus on buying and cooking healthy, whole foods in order to eat a balanced meal (32).
This is in contrast with diets that involve packaged food, lots of processed sugar and carbs, or both. Because these kinds of junk foods are full of added sugars, solid fats, and sometimes even toxins and chemicals that do more harm than good, eating clean provides many health benefits such as weight loss and maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI).
Want to build an attention-grabbing bubble butt, blast away fat that’s stored in all the wrong places, spring-clean your diet, turn back the clock on your skin, skyrocket your self-confidence and shatter your insecurities? Check out the BetterMe app and set this plan in motion!
What To Eat
Here are some of the foods that should be top on your list:
Lean proteins are proteins that are low in saturated fats and carbohydrates, which is important for those who are trying to lose weight (28). Here are the top five lean proteins you should start adding to your diet today.
One-four ounce serving of chicken (about the size of a deck of cards) contains 26 grams of protein with only 162 calories and zero sugars (6). This qualifies it as one of the best lean proteins available.
For even more nutritional value, look for poultry marked “hormone-free” or “organic.” These chickens aren’t treated with hormones or antibiotics, so they will be healthier overall than their other alternatives (8). If this doesn’t apply to you though because you don’t eat meat, feel free to skip to the other four best lean proteins.
This white fish is one of the healthiest choices you can make when it comes to seafood thanks to its low levels of mercury and high protein content (one serving about 100grams contains 20 grams of protein) (12). It tastes great served alone or in a dish like a ceviche.
For an even healthier protein choice, try turkey breast over regular poultry. Turkey is known for being lower in fat than chicken; 4 ounces has 2.18 grams of fat and 26 grams of protein (31). Ironically enough though, because it’s so lean, it may be higher in sodium than chicken or beef (still, not enough sodium to make it unhealthy).
Ground Beef 93% Lean
When choosing beef for a healthy meal, it’s important to opt for leaner ground meat. The number on the label of a beef product refers to how much fat is in that one-ounce portion. You should look for a number 93 or higher, which means less than 7 grams of fat per serving.
Salmon, mackerel and halibut are great choices when it comes to lean proteins. All of these fish have high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent cardiovascular disease and arthritis pain (13). Additionally, they all have no sugar but lots of calcium and vitamin D (halibut has the most out of this group).
In general, wild salmon is more nutritious than farm-raised alternatives because farm-raised salmon tend to be fed corn and soy, which affects the flavor and Omega-3 fatty acid content (11).
Read More: Celery Juice Detox: Does It Work?
Whole grains are unprocessed grains that still have all parts of the kernel: bran, germ and endosperm. White flour is processed to remove even more parts of the grain, which is why it’s considered a refined grain. It has little nutritional value because many of its components have been removed. On the other hand, whole wheat keeps everything intact and includes nutrients such as fibre, manganese, B vitamins and selenium (33).
Whole grains are proven to help with weight loss because they keep you fuller for longer periods of time. Studies show that nutritionally dense foods like whole grains make you feel full faster than low-nutrient foods (like processed foods) (10). That means you won’t have to worry as much about snacking between meals or late-night cravings.
That’s not all. Whole grains also contain more fiber than refined grains, which is essential for healthy digestion and stabilizing your blood sugar levels.
Some studies suggest that the high fiber content of whole grains can help prevent weight gain. There are lots of other great things about whole grains too: they protect against diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer (26).
Some whole grains to include in your weight loss diet include
- Whole wheat
- Brown rice
- Rye flakes
One thing is certain; not all fats are created equal when it comes to weight loss. Some fats will help you lose weight and are good for your heart, while others will lead to weight gain and increased cardiovascular disease risk (1). Because of this, it is best to understand the concept of “good” and “bad” fats before making dietary decisions.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The omega-3 fatty acids are considered “good” because they provide numerous health benefits. These fatty acids can reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure, inflammation, and even pain associated with arthritis (22).
Perhaps most important for those trying to lose weight is their ability to improve insulin sensitivity. This means that cells throughout the body respond better to insulin (i.e., glucose), which allows for easier movement into the cells. This means that your body will not need to produce as much insulin or use as much energy to store the excess glucose in the liver and muscles.
Some sources of Omega-3 Fatty acids include:
- Fish (tuna, salmon)
- Nuts (walnuts, almonds)
- Seeds (chia seeds, flaxseeds)
Monounsaturated Fats (MUFAs)
Monounsaturated fats are also known as “good” fats because they may promote weight loss (18). This is because monounsaturated fat consumption can increase satiety, which means that you will be less likely to feel hungry between meals.
Additionally, monounsaturated fats help the body’s cells take in blood sugar after a meal; this reduces your levels of insulin, which reduces cravings for sugary foods. The best sources of monounsaturated fat include:
- Olive oil and olives
- Nuts (almonds, peanuts)
- Seeds (flaxseed)
When it comes to weight loss, progress is made by inches, not miles, so it’s much harder to track and a lot easier to give up. BetterMe app is your personal trainer, nutritionist and support system all in one. Start using our app to stay on track and hold yourself accountable!
Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)
Medium-chain triglycerides are also known as “good” fats because they may promote weight loss. This may be because MCTs can be used directly by the body for energy, rather than being stored.
One meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials in humans associated MCTs with decreased body weight, waist and hip circumferences, total body fat, total subcutaneous fat, and visceral fat compared with long chain triglycerides (9). In animals, MCTs have been associated with increased mitochondrial biosynthesis and increased liver fat oxidation (20).
The best sources of medium-chain triglycerides include:
- Coconut oil
- Goat cheese
Fruits And Vegetables
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been proven to help with weight loss. In fact, eating five servings or more daily is recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) (14).
There are several reasons why your diet should be rich in fruits and vegetables, including a reduced risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases (14). When it comes to fruits and vegetables, there is nothing more beautiful than a rainbow! In general, brightly colored fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients:
Red Foods: Tomatoes, Watermelon, Red Pepper
Red foods contain lycopene which has been known to help prevent cancer cells from growing in your body (4).
Orange Foods: Oranges, Mangoes, Peaches
Orange foods are packed with beta-carotene which is converted into Vitamin A in your body. These foods help build healthy bones, teeth, and eyesight (34).
Yellow/Green Foods: Kiwi, Pineapple, Green Peppers
Yellow and green foods are rich in carotenoids which are antioxidants that also help provide protection against free radicals. Free radicals can damage cells in your body that can lead to illnesses like cancer or heart disease (25).
Blue/Purple Foods: Eggplant (Purple), Blueberries (Blue)
Purple and blue fruits contain anthocyanins which may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. They also contain resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant that fights off-causing cells (3).
White Foods: Garlic, Ginger, Bananas
Garlic, ginger and bananas are all good choices for inclusion in weight-loss meals because they contain high amounts of magnesium. Magnesium helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels and plays a key role in energy production (19).
What To Avoid
Certain foods should not feature on your clean eating diet plan. They include:
Highly Processed Foods
These foods have been refined, meaning that they contain artificial ingredients and additives. These include any food that is high in sugar as well as those that are labeled “low-fat” or “diet.”
Sugars can be found naturally in foods like fruits and vegetables, but many of these sugars come with other nutrients such as fiber. Added sugars do not include nutrients and should be limited, especially because they can make you feel hungry very quickly (15).
Fried foods such as french fries contain a lot of calories but very few nutrients and little fiber. It is easy to consume a ton of calories before you start to feel full.
Alcohol is not only high in calories but it also slows down the rate at which your body metabolizes food (2). This means that instead of burning those calories immediately after drinking alcohol, your body will store those calories as fat!
Exercise For Weight Loss
Aside from eating nutritious whole foods, exercise can boost your weight loss efforts (23). Here are some tips for becoming more physically active:
- Walk instead of driving to nearby destinations
- Join a local sports team or take up yoga, dance, Pilates, etc.
- Get up from the computer every hour and just walk around a bit
- Take a short 30-minute walk at lunchtime three times per week
The Bottom Line
A 3-day detox is not the answer for weight loss. It’s a restrictive diet that often results in losing water weight only. Once you resume eating normal meals, you’re likely to regain all the lost weight. Instead of going on a detox, adopt clean eating practices. Together with exercise, this is the only way to shed those pounds for good.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- A healthy approach to dietary fats: understanding the science and taking action to reduce consumer confusion (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- ALCOHOL METABOLISM (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: colored pigments as food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and the potential health benefits (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- An Update on the Health Effects of Tomato Lycopene (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- A Review of Cyanogenic Glycosides in Edible Plants (2016, intechopen.com)
- Chicken, ground, raw (2019, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- Cilia and Mucociliary Clearance (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Conventional and organic foods: A comparison focused on animal products (2015, tandfonline.com)
- Effects of medium-chain triglycerides on weight loss and body composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (2015, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Effects on satiation, satiety and food intake of wholegrain and refined grain pasta (2016, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Environmental health impacts of feeding crops to farmed fish (2016, sciencedirect.com)
- Fish, tilapia, raw (2019, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Cardiovascular Disease (2002, ahajournals.org)
- Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Mortality | Circulation (2021, ahajournals.org)
- Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings (2010, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- How does skin work? (2009, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- How does the immune system work? (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Is there a role for monounsaturated fat in the dietary management of obesity? (2003, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Magnesium and Human Health: Perspectives and Research Directions (2018, hindawi.com)
- Medium-Chain Triglycerides and Health : ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal (2020, journals.lww.com)
- Metabolic Waste Product – an overview (n.d., sciencedirect.com)
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Health Professional Fact Sheet (2021, ods.od.nih.gov)
- Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight (2020, cdc.gov)
- Physiology, Liver – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Potential Role of Carotenoids as Antioxidants in Human Health and Disease (2014, mdpi.com)
- Role of Whole Grains in Body Weight Regulation (2012, academic.oup.com)
- The importance of antioxidants which play the role in cellular response against oxidative/nitrosative stress: current state – Nutrition Journal (2016, nutritionj.biomedcentral.com)
- The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance (2015, academic.oup.com)
- The Roles of Peyer’s Patches and Microfold Cells in the Gut Immune System: Relevance to Autoimmune Diseases (2019, frontiersin.org)
- Toxicologic Issues – Monitoring Human Tissues for Toxic Substances. (1991, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Turkey, whole, meat only, raw (2019, fdc.nal.usda.gov)
- What does it mean to eat clean? (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Whole Grains | The Nutrition Source | Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health (n.d., hsph.harvard.edu)
- β-Carotene Is an Important Vitamin A Source for Humans (2010, academic.oup.com)