Cleansing and Detox Diets

Medical Editor:

Cleansing and detox diets introduction

If you're looking for a way to lose weight quickly and feel better (and who isn't?), you might be tempted to try a fad "detox" diet or a "cleanse" method." You know the diets that start with a fast, followed by a period of consuming only raw vegetables, fruit, juices and water.

Most nutritionists say don't bother.

Do detox diet's work?

There is no scientific evidence that "detox" (short for detoxification) or "cleanse" diets result in rapid weight loss or have any health benefits, says Heather Mangieri, RDN, LDN, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and founder of Nutrition CheckUp in Pittsburgh.

Indeed, the opposite may be true: One study published in 2011 in the journal Obesity found that beginning a weight-loss diet with a fast or cleanse could be counterproductive.

For example, researchers at the University of Illinois divided mice into two diet groups. For 10 to 12 weeks, one group of mice was fed a low-fat diet (10 percent fat). The other group was fed a high-fat diet (60 percent fat). Not surprisingly, the group on a high-fat diet gained a lot of weight. Afterward, both groups were put on a 24-hour fast. The lean mice lost 18 percent of their body weight in those 24 hours, but the obese mice lost only 5 percent.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/29/2013