Do you feel as though you overindulged over the festive period?
When you sit back you realise you’ve spent the last two weeks eating a little more than you should have, drinking a little more than you should have and sitting around a little more than you should have. Naturally you may be wishing you could turn back the clock and undo all these things…. but you can’t. The most common option seems to be jumping onto a January detox. After all, how bad can a month of restriction and misery really be?
Firstly, remember the first few pounds aren’t really noticeable. Whilst you can and most likely should do something about it, it’s not an urgent problem that needs to be dealt with imminently. Aim to remove the extra weight over a longer period of time. Despite this, January cleanses are still overly popular (and most likely will remain so for the foreseeable future) but let’s look at why they might not be the best option and what you can do instead.
Do You Really Need To Detox?
When we think of detox we think of juice cleanses, soup diets, fasts, vegetable only diets, the maple syrup diet, diet pills… The list goes on. We often believe that these are the best ways to ‘clean out our systems’, what’s often missed in these very clever marketing messages is that the body is forever on a constant detox (the removal of waste products). It does this through the use of many of our organs including: our kidneys, liver, skin and intestines. The body is a very complicated piece of machinery and these processes cannot be mimicked by solely eating vegetables or taking on only fluids.
What’s Wrong With Trying It Anyway?
You might be thinking that you can ‘help’ your body out by embarking on a new January detox or cleanse however, these programmes are often very low in calories and nutrients. This means that whilst you may lose weight in the short term (due to the calorie restriction) you’re more likely to regain the weight and a little more when you start eating properly again. Research has shown that very low-calorie diets are more likely to induce reduction of fat-free mass. This means you’re more likely to lose weight through muscle reduction than you are fat reduction. In the study, there was also no difference between the amount of weight lost on a low-calorie diet vs a very low calorie diet (less than 800kcal.d).
As detoxes are so restrictive they are difficult to maintain and may promote a risk of binge eating due to the heavy restriction. If you’re not convinced you should also be aware that detoxes pose high risks of micronutrient deficiencies due to the reduction in calorie intake. Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals which are needed in smaller quantities than macronurients. However, they are absolutely essential to the normal functioning of our body. They play key roles in bone metabolism, heart health, blood flow, brain function, muscle function and metabolism to name a few. Deficiencies can pose a risk of low energy, brittle bones, poor digestion, skin disorders and many more.
Finally, detoxes can contribute to feelings of lethargy, moodiness and fatigue so is it really worth all of this just to shed the extra weight a little quicker? (which remember you’ll most likely regain too).
What Should You Do Instead?
It’s not all bad news. I’m not suggesting that you continue 2018 the way you finished 2017… There are definitely some things you can do to help shift the extra weight and make you feel better all around.
- Drink plenty of water
In the winter it can be easy to forget to drink as we don’t sweat enough but if you’ve read the other articles you may know that we often mistake hunger for thirst. By staying hydrated you’re less likely to over eat.
- Get active
It’s not rocket science, the more we move, the better we feel and the more energy we burn. Whilst you can’t out run a bad diet exercise does contribute to overall well-being, weight loss and weight maintenance.
- Eat more veggies
This isn’t to say only eat veggies however, filling half your plate at each meal with vegetables can help you to feel full and keep you satisfied for longer due to the fibre content.
- Reduce your sugar
You most likely consumed enough sugar over the festive period so try swapping those sugary snacks for foods rich in protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Examples include: a handful of nuts, an apple or a rice cake and peanut butter, olives and roasted chickpeas.
- Don’t skip meals
You might be tempted to skip meals to counter balance what you ate over Christmas but in doing so you’ll cause your blood sugar levels to drop which may lead you to craving higher sugar foods and binging later on; honour your body and listen to your hunger signals.
In short, try and avoid the detoxes and follow these tips as a sensible and more sustainable way to help you shed the extra weight and feel better for 2018.
Vink, R. G., Roumans, N. J., Arkenbosch, L. A., Mariman, E., & van Baak, M. A. (2016). The effect of rate of weight loss on long‐term weight regain in adults with overweight and obesity. Obesity, 24(2), 321-327.