Thinking about trying a juice cleanse or radical detox to kick off 2016? We don’t blame you: The allure of these diets is strong. Who doesn’t want to chimney-sweep their insides, clearing out all the crap you put in there between Halloween and New Year’s? But as attractive as the idea of detoxing is—it’s also not smart. Or healthy. Or supported by literally any science. (Here are 7 of the biggest clean-eating trends we predict for 2016.)
While it’s true that drastically reducing your food intake as part of cleanse can have a couple short-term benefits, like lowering blood pressure, there are far more reasons not to undertake intense detox diets. Here are the five most compelling.
1. You won’t lose weight long-term.
Sure, radical cleanses result in quick weight loss—but the slim down won’t last. “Anyone can follow a restrictive diet or cleanse for a certain period of time. Unfortunately, data shows us that, when the diet ends, most people gain back everything they lose plus more,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, owner of Nutrition Starring You, LLC. Save your body the roller coaster ride.
Lost of detox plans—juice cleanses especially—seriously scale back your intake of fat and protein. That’s a problem, since those are the two nutrients your body uses to make neurotransmitters, which keep your mood stable. Plus, drastically reducing the number of calories you eat will sap your energy.
Another drawback of limiting protein: You’ll lose muscle mass (on a weeklong cleanse, it can be as much as 1 pound of muscle mass per day!). “Then, when the weight comes back, it will most likely be gained as fat,” says Harris-Pincus. (Try one of these filling weight loss smoothies instead.)
4. You’re not actually detoxing yourself.
Detox diets talk a big game, saying they’ll eliminate all manner of toxins from your body. But the truth is that your body doesn’t really need assistance in that department. “Our bodies were designed to detox themselves,” says Harris-Pincus. “Our liver and kidneys already do a great job of removing waste and toxins from our bodies.” How can you actually help your body run optimally? Just eat healthfully, Harris-Pincus says: Add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and lean proteins and limit added sugars and highly processed foods.
5. You’ll spend a lot of money for nothing.
Your average 3-day juice cleanse costs around $200. Two. Hundred. Dollars. For three days of “food.” Just think about how many grocery carts’ worth of actual sustenance you can get for that amount of money. Don’t start 2016 by getting swindled.