I’ve tried my fair share of detoxes and cleanses over the years and I never felt the limitless energy that people always claim to have. And don’t even get me started on the promised weight loss.
Even if you do lose some weight, it tends to go straight back on as soon as the detox/cleanse is over. Many of these programmes include a fasting component, which perhaps explains why intermittent fasting (also known as time-restricted eating) sometimes gets a bad rap.
But please don’t confuse the detox-type fasting – usually a short-term extreme one-size-fits-all approach – with IF, which is a sustainable lifestyle choice that you work into at your own pace.
What is a detox?
Detoxes are intended to eliminate toxins from your body. They often involve being limited to drinking vegetable or fruit juice, smoothies, herbal teas and water, in addition to fasting. Sometimes they’re combined with special supplements and even enemas, colon cleanses or laxatives.
Some people report feeling more focused and energetic on detoxes, but it’s hard to say whether this is because of the detox, or because they’ve eliminated the usual crap that they consume. And maybe they’re getting more vitamins than usual?
The idea is that your digestive tract will heal if you give it a break, and this will have a knock-on effect of healing all sorts of other ailments. All I can say is that it never worked for me, as far as I know. There was really no way of measuring my success, other than how I felt. And I definitely didn’t feel better.
According to the Mayo Clinic in the US, there’s no reliable scientific evidence that detoxes actually eliminate toxins from your body. The Cleveland Clinic also points out that your body is perfectly capable of self-detoxing, if you live a healthy lifestyle and eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes.
Our digestive tract, liver, kidneys and skin are responsible for breaking down toxins for elimination through urine, stool or sweat, it explains.
Personally, I’m glad that I found intermittent fasting because I never plan to do a detox or cleanse again if I can help it.
Intermittent fasting, healing & menopause
While our bodies are designed to get rid of toxins and heal by themselves, intermittent fasting (IF) is a great way to support and possibly make this process more efficient. In case you don’t know about IF, it’s a pattern of eating where you only consume food during a certain “window” of time during the 24 hours in your day. You decide the timing as well as what you eat during that window. In other words, you are 100% in control.
When you fast, it triggers something called autophagy, the body’s way of “recycling” damaged cells and generating new healthy cells in their place.
I hear extraordinary healing stories from intermittent fasters all the time – everything from people being able to stop or cut down on their heart and diabetes medicines, to old scars and skin problems totally disappearing, to reversing metabolic syndrome (which often manifests as obesity, insulin resistance, elevated triglycerides and high blood pressure).
That’s not to mention some of the benefits that I’ve seen that are specific to perimenopausal and menopausal women, including:
- reduction/elimination of hot flushes (flashes) & night sweats
- sleep problems improving
- weight loss
- anxiety/mood swings settling down
- energy levels increasing
- brain fog/memory improving
- blood sugar levels regulating (no more mid-afternoon crashes)
- sugar & junk food cravings reducing
- digestive issues resolving (better gut health)
- joint and muscle pain diminishing
- plantar fasciitis disappearing
To be clear, I’m not guaranteeing that these things will happen to you, and they certainly won’t happen overnight. But I do know people who have improved all of the above issues.
A little more on weight loss…
Many people get drawn into detoxes/cleanses, and intermittent fasting, because they’re looking to lose weight. That was the case with me.
I can’t repeat this enough: people often come to IF for the weight loss, but they stay for the health benefits.
Just remember, the internal healing will always take place before the superficial weight loss, so don’t be disheartened if the weight isn’t coming off straight away.
Intermittent fasting isn’t a quick-fix diet. It’s about living a long life full of vitality. Sometimes it takes a while to get out of the diet (and/or detox) mindset, which is usually looking for an overnight miracle.
Of course, we want to look better, but feeling better and being healthier in the long-term is pretty damn important. It’s worth being patient for – you can achieve your weight loss goals with IF, too, but it takes time, consistency and commitment!
I’d love to hear how you feel about detoxes in the comments below… Yes? No? Maybe? Never again? And if you’re an IFer, do you do detoxes and cleanses in addition to IF?
P.S. If you’re trying to tackle hormonal weight gain and reduce your menopausal symptoms, why not join my next Fasting4Menopause Kickstart Programme? It’s fun and I’ll teach you all of the hacks you need to know to become a successful “IFer”! Click here for more info and to join my waiting list!
I happen to love green drinks, so this image of the smoothie looks delicious!! I haven’t done a detox since I began IF earlier this year. I don’t feel the need any longer. Their use was for a reboot of sorts, but with IF and the flexibility, I don’t feel the need for it. I have noticed less cravings, less bloat, and more energy. Thanks for your expertise in the workshop and beyond!
I actually think this drink looks great, too, lol. And I still drink smoothies all the time. But not as part of a cleanse or detox. Simply because I enjoy them and they’re filled with loads of vitamins and nutrients. It’s interesting that you don’t feel the need to detox anymore. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for this, great information.
Thanks for reading & commenting – glad you enjoyed it!
I like detoxing for a few days once every season with meal plans customized according to the needs of my body during that season (like more grounding and warming foods during the winter and more cooling foods during the summer). However, I believe in intermittent fasting as well and I do this for one day every week (I either decide to skip one breakfast or one dinner) as I am fan of the theory that says we need to let the body be hungry from time to time as when hungry and not fed, the body feeds itself with the dirty stuff accumulated within the cells.
Thanks so much for your comments. It sounds like your approach is very measured and nothing too extreme. I believe everybody needs to do what’s best for their individual body, and you know exactly what’s best for yours! 🙂
I am Muslim so I fast every year for a whole month, with nothing to eat or drink from dawn til dusk. I switch breakfast with evening meal so that I’m eating a wholesome meal with things like beans & rice so that it’s releasing energy through the day and I drink lots of yoghurt based drinks to keep me hydrated for the day. Then at night I eat something small so that it doesn’t weigh heavy on my stomach when I go to bed.
It’s amazing, I always feel great by the end of the month. It’s true your body starts to mend and it feeds on its own resources – fat & water in the body. My intention is to do this for God but, I feel I am rewarded too for trying so hard. It teaches me to be patient and to think of others, & people not as fortunate as myself. I give to help others and feel better for it. I feel a great sense of achievement by the end of the month & I often think that I will do some more fasting during the year, though perhaps not so strict! I haven’t managed it so far but, maybe IF is what I should try.
Wow, this is so interesting! Thanks very much for reading & commenting. I especially like that part about learning to be patient and think of others. I do agree that fasting has a valuable spiritual component and allows for contemplation and calming of the mind. There are so many benefits! And there are so many different ways to do it, which makes it simple to fit into whatever your lifestyle is… even doing, for example, a 24-hour fast once a week can be beneficial.