As the New Year approaches, many individuals consider going on a detox to jumpstart weight loss. These detox diets typically include a strict regimen of juice-only meals, supplements, and severe calorie restriction. While detoxes have been lauded by celebrities and the media, there are many details that have been kept from the public. The nutrition experts at Total Nutrition Technology have answered frequently asked questions regarding detoxes and gone into detail about the best and safest ways to kick-start a healthy lifestyle.

What is a detox diet?
The term “detox” has become an all-encompassing phrase for numerous non-traditional diets and fasts that claim to “reset the metabolism”, “flush out toxins”, and remove extra pounds. While there are many different types of detoxes, one of the more extreme and dangerous regimens involves drinking only laxative tea, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and maple syrup for 10 days.

What is a toxin?
A toxin is a poison that can cause disease such as nicotine, air pollutants, water pollutants, mercury, or dangerous forms of bacteria such as E.coli or salmonella.

Do we need to go on detox diets to rid our body of toxins?
No. Our organs are incredibly efficient at removing harmful toxins from the body. The liver is responsible for cleaning toxins and wastes from the blood and separating out the useful nutrients that the body needs for daily functioning. The kidneys filter waste out of the blood which is excreted through the urine. These organs act with the immune system in order to keep us healthy; there is no evidence that a detox diet can enhance what our body is naturally programmed to do.

What are the risks of detoxes?
The more extreme the regimen is, the more likely it is to be dangerous. Some detoxes completely eliminate critical nutrients, such as protein and fat, which can lead to malnutrition. In addition, prolonged detoxes such as juice cleanses can cause an electrolyte imbalance in the body which in some cases results in organ failure. While not all detoxes are this high-risk, it is important to remember that a well-rounded, balanced, and maintainable diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is the safest and best way to nourish our bodies.

What are other ways to jumpstart a new, healthy lifestyle without going on a detox?
Try incorporating aspects of detoxes into your routine without committing to a full detox regimen. For example, replace one meal with a smoothie in order to increase fruit and vegetable intake. By swapping a doughnut for a nutritious smoothie at breakfast, you will begin your day with the necessary vitamins and minerals to nourish and fuel your body.

Berry-Banana Breakfast Smoothie

1 frozen, peeled banana

½ cup berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc.)

1 tablespoon almond butter

1 cup almond milk (soy milk or skim milk can be substituted)

¼ tsp cinnamon

Exchanges: 2 fruit, 1 protein, 1 dairy

Tropical Green Smoothie 

1 frozen, peeled banana

1 cup baby spinach or kale

1 cup pineapple chunks

1 cup almond milk (soy milk or skim milk can be substituted)

1 tsp honey (optional)

Exchanges: 2 fruit, 1 vegetable, 1 dairy


Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie

1 frozen, peeled banana

1 cup pumpkin puree

½ cup almond milk (soy milk or skim milk can be substituted)

½ cup Greek yogurt (vanilla or plain)

¼ tsp cinnamon

1 tsp maple syrup (optional)

Exchanges: 1 fruit, 1 vegetable, 2 dairy