There are thousands of detox plans and cleansing products out there on the market today. As with any health trend, merchants and health nuts around the world have picked up on the trend and have started offering their own products, services, plans, guides, and books about the subject. As long as there are people concerned about losing weight and shedding bodily toxins, there will be people willing to buy those products.
It's understandably confusing, because you have people coming at you from all sides, claiming their cleanse works best while others might not work at all. Add to that the science behind detoxing, and you start to see how many of the offers out there are scams. Plus, you have no way of knowing what's in the products you buy. It wouldn't be the first time a mass-market health product is tainted in some way.
So why not just do it yourself? The key to a good cleanse is to personalize it for your needs and desires anyway. If you're building a cleanse from the ground up, you can customize something for exactly your needs. That's why we've put together this plan for you.
Step 0: Learn the Science
Before you can start to develop a cleanse or detox for yourself, you need to understand the science of detoxing.
Despite what many people might say, your body doesn't need help removing toxins from its systems, at least not anything that can be removed through normal means. Things like heavy metals and neurotoxins, sure, your body doesn't remove those easily. Then again, if you have a neurotoxin in your bloodstream, you're probably on the way to the hospital, not reading this.
Most environmental contaminants, the nastiness in your processed foods, the excess sugar and preservatives; your body can remove all that stuff naturally. Your cells push it into your bloodstream, your blood carries it to your liver, and your liver purges it through your urinary tract, your digestive processes, and even your sweat.
It's important to understand how a cleanse or detox works, when you're putting one together. A typical cleanse will do three things:
- It will include some kind of diuretic or laxative, to help purge your digestive system and help you "start fresh".
- It will include plenty of vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients to replace what you're purging with the ingredients in #1.
- It will include specific ingredients to help support your liver in its own processes.
The weight loss that you experience through a cleanse comes from two processes. The first is the diuretics and laxatives. You're losing weight, and it's primarily water weight, which is the first weight to go and the first weight to come back. That's why you can lose so much without the caloric deficit to match; it's just water. It's also why it's so easy to gain it all back again when you finish your cleanse.
The second is by purging your body of unnatural and processed ingredients, and making the lifestyle change to keep them out. A cleanse helps you "reset" your taste for sugar and carbs, which you can then avoid moving forward, to help you eat healthier and lose weight. Too many people treat cleanses as one-time processes, when they should be the start of healthier habits.
You can see, now, that putting together a cleanse is both easier and harder than you might have thought. Easier, because you don't need to worry about strange chemicals or exact proportions of ingredients. Harder, because developing a cleanse to do what you want might be difficult. So here's how you can do it.
Step 1: Determine the Type of Cleanse You Want
The first part of planning a cleanse is determining exactly how you want to detox. Just like detoxing from a drug, a DIY detox requires you to cut out the ingredients you're trying to cleanse from your body.
Some popular options include:
- Liver Cleanse. This is typically focused on liver support and not other cleanses.
- Juice Fasts. This is more of a diet-focused cleanse to help remove sugar and carbs from your diet.
- Colon cleanse. These are laxative cleanses to help "reset" your gut flora.
- Master cleanse. This is kind of a combination of all of the above.
If you're not experienced with cleansing, we recommend something on the lighter side, like a liver or juice cleanse. Colon cleanses can be uncomfortable, and a master cleanse is likely to be extreme, though you can push all of them beyond the limits of reasonable.
Step 2: Decide How Long You Want to Cleanse
Cleanses run a wide range of possible lengths. At the short end, a very extreme cleanse might last for three days. Most cleanses that involve restricted diets or harsh substances like laxatives should last no more than a week. Other supplemental detox plans can last as much as six weeks.
If you're new to cleansing, start small. They can be harsh and unpleasant, at least initially, so you want to minimize how much you have to suffer for your benefits. You can build up to deeper detoxes later.
Step 3: Research Supplements and Support Ingredients
Depending on the kind of detox you want to do, you may end up missing certain nutrients in your diet. Typically, you'll want to take some kind of multivitamin, potentially some kind of liver support product, and possibly a protein supplement as well. It depends entirely on how restricted your diet will be while you're cleansing.
Make sure to research any ingredients you're not sure of. Occasionally, you can end up with extra-high doses of certain vitamins and minerals, which can be detrimental to your liver. Overdosing on certain minerals, like potassium, can have dangerous consequences to your organs like kidneys as well. You'll probably be fine with a short-term detox, but be sure to see a doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms.
Step 4: Begin Your Cleanse
Now that you've done your research, bought whatever ingredients you need to make your smoothies or juices or healthy meals, and gotten your supplements, you're ready to begin your cleanse.
Remember that a detox is going to be harsh on your body initially. Depending on what you're trying to detox from, you may experience some withdrawal symptoms. Sugar is the big one, and sugar cravings can be pretty hard to resist. In some cases, you might also be detoxing from caffeine, which leads to headaches and a lack of energy. It's worth it if you can cut out caffeine entirely and get used to it later, but many people don't want to try, and many supplements – particularly weight loss supplements – have caffeine in them as well.
Monitor your body as you detox. The first day will be primarily dealing with cravings and resisting the urge to snack. Days two and three are where detox withdrawals start to happen, depending on your cleanse. Expect some discomfort, expect frequent trips to the bathroom if you're using laxatives as part of your cleanse, and consult a physician if you have any more extreme symptoms.
Step 5: Drink Plenty of Water
One of the biggest pieces of advice we can give you for any cleanse is to drink plenty of water. Drink more water than you think you should. Water fuels your body, helps you heal, and helps purge anything your body needs to purge.
Probably the most important benefit to drinking all of that water is that dehydration is your biggest enemy with a detox. Dehydration makes you miserable and makes all of your other withdrawal and detox symptoms worse. By drinking water – and taking a multivitamin – you can avoid the "cleanse hangover" you might otherwise get.
Step 6: Take Probiotics
Just about every cleanse you want to do is going to purge your digestive system in some way. It might be by fasting, it might be through the use of laxatives, or it might be a liquid diet that encourages solids to finish their journey. Regardless of the reason, this can cause all manner of issues with your gut flora, as the bacteria has to adapt to what you're feeding it. Some strains recede, some flourish, and some wage war on one another.
All of this means you want to do what you can to supplement the good bacteria to overwhelm the bad bacteria. You can do this with two substances: probiotics and prebiotics.
Prebiotics just means "fiber", since that's what the good gut bacteria primarily eat. Get more fiber from your diet, during and after your cleanse. Probiotics, meanwhile, can come in food and supplement form. Take whichever one is easiest and fits with your detox.
Step 7: Pick Up the Exercise
Yes, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to try to work out while you're detoxing, but that just means it's a good time to do it. You're already losing weight because of water weigh purging, but you can supplement both your change in diet and your weight loss by exercising.
You don't have to go all out with a workout routine full of weight lifting and cardio training, but you should at least put some effort into it. Lengthy walks, light jogging, some time on cardio machines; it can all help you kick-start your weight loss, and build better habits for when you're done with your detox.
Step 8: Transition to a Better Diet
Most people treat a detox or a cleanse as something they do once, that has an impact, before they go back to what they were doing before. And, sure, if you were living a healthy life and just wanted a cleanse to push you a step closer to whatever your final goal is, that can work. Unfortunately, most people don't fall into that category.
We always recommend to people that they should use a detox as the starting point for a dietary change. It doesn't have to be a major change, but it's a good chance to make a change of some kind. For example, maybe you run a juice cleanse, and then cut out red meat when you're done. Or maybe you run a colon cleanse, and when you're finished, you keep away from caffeine.
The number one cause of failure when dieting is trying to do too much too fast and not sticking with it. A Detox is a good jumping off point where you plunge into the deep end, then swim up to the surface, and you can make your way back to the shallow end but stay a little deeper than you were before.
Step 9: Get Plenty of Sleep
A detox can be hard on your body, so you need to give it the ability to heal. Water helps, as do supplements, but one of the best things you can do is block out time to sleep. Most people these days don't get enough restful sleep regardless.
One of the nice things about a detox is that it wears you out. You'll have less energy initially, and you'll be tired, especially if you exercise. You can leverage this into more sleep, and try to build up more of a habit of sleeping a full eight hours instead of just sleep. At the very least, try to put the cell phone away before you hit the hay, hey?
Step 10: Recover, Review, Renew
Detoxes and cleanses are not forever, and when they're over, it's time to look at how they did. Do you feel better when all is said and done? Did the cleanse work to help you reach your goals? Have you been able to make changes to your lifestyle to improve yourself?
Often times, particularly with DIY cleanses, it might not do everything you wanted it to. You have high hopes, and it lets you down. That's fine! You can always try again, armed with the knowledge of what worked and how you reacted, to improve your own personal detox plan.