Fasting Diets

  • Author: Jennifer Warner
  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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What are detox diets?

Other types of fasting diets that have been in the headlines recently are "detox diets." Celebrities often claim to use these diets to lose weight quickly for an upcoming film or red carpet appearance. For example, singer and actress Beyonce reportedly used the Master Cleanse (also known as the Lemonade Diet) to lose weight to prepare for her role in Dreamgirls.

The Master Cleanse, or Lemonade Diet, claims to help people lose weight, flush the colon, and rid the body of toxins and parasites. It's a liquid fasting diet that consists of drinking a concoction of lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water throughout the day and using laxatives for about two weeks. But experts say there is no solid evidence that these types of detox diets actually "cleanse" your insides.

"They say you are cleansing your system, but there is really no data to support that," said Angela Lemond, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Plano, Texas. "Our bodies have an amazing ability to cleanse itself," said Lemond. "If you want a good cleanse, make a goal of eating nine servings of fruit and vegetables a day, and you'll get your cleanse."

What are the downsides of fasting diets?

Lemond says while intermittent fasting and liquid fasting diets may promote short-term weight loss, the challenge is maintaining that weight loss over the long term. "At the end of the day, these are all low-calorie diets. They are going to yield weight loss," said Lemond. "A lot of people say they are 'cleansing,' but they are really just trying to lose weight."

"A lot of studies associate fasting with losing lean, metabolically active tissue and minimal loss of fat tissue," said Lemond. "That will give quick weight loss, but for most people, it is not a sustained weight loss." Lemond says it's the lean, fat-burning tissue in your body that helps you keep weight off. If you lose it due to fasting, "you're worse off than when you started."

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/7/2015

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