9 Ways a detox diet may actually harm you

When anyone wants to lose those extra pounds and wants to do it quickly, they often resort to detoxification diets or detox diets. It is true that a detox diet enhances the body’s ability to lose toxins but it has several side effects which one should be aware of. These side-effects arise due to lack of nutrition, slowing down of the body metabolism and associated fatigue. Thus, detox diets are good only for very short terms. Given below are 9 ways in which a detox diet can make one suffer.

Fatigue and weakness

Since a detox diet is primarily meant to flush out toxins from the system, it will contain large amounts of water and fiber foods. Thus, fruits and vegetables constitute the diet. While these provide cleansing that the body needs, they severely lack in carbohydrates that are essential for meeting the energy needs of the body. So, often, we have people complaining of weakness and tiredness while on a detox diet. This fatigue also prohibits them from taking part in any recreational activities and hobbies that involve energy expenditure. Thus, they are unable to participate in games, hikes, excursions and sports. This general weakness will make the person feel lethargic and sleepy as well. This is natural because the body is always attempting to conserve its vital energy resources.

Slowing of metabolism

While detox diets are usually done with the goal of reducing weight, they can cause an opposite effect. A research has indicated that metabolism is reduced when calories are restricted. This is a natural reaction from the body which is forced to breakdown muscle for the necessary energy. When metabolism slows down, burning of fat almost comes to a standstill. Thus, it becomes harder to lose weight. This further adds to the irritability about which it shall soon be described.

Binge eating and weight gain

A detoxification diet is one of the quickest ways of losing weight. People lose weight rapidly and many times surprise themselves with it. However, most of this weight loss is the loss of fluids from the body. As a general principle, any weight that is lost quickly is also gained quickly. So, once the detox dieting is complete and one resumes the regular eating patterns, there is a very high probability of weight being gained by the person. Those on detox diets are deprived of foods of their choice in a very strict manner. This brings in the dangers of binge-eating immediately on the completion of the diet. People indulge in this kind of reckless eating to satisfy the cravings that had been suppressed strictly by the diet.

Gastric problems and constipation

Detox diets are meant for ‘purging’ the system of all the harmful and ‘toxic’ stuff. The reality is that the body is quite capable of cleansing the system on its own. The diet consists of foodstuffs that are basically ‘fluff’ and do not require any considerable digestive activity. As a result of this, there is a constant hunger and an insatiable craving for food. The stomach being empty for long periods leads to formation of gas. This is painful at times. Flatulence and burping increase. The large intestine which absorbs water from the food functions normally. The drastic reduction of food mass leads to excessive, relative water absorption which leads to constipation.

Lack of nutrition for the body

The greatest complaint about a detox diet is the absolute lack of essential nutrients that are necessary for the sustenance of the body. They do not affect the body in the short term, but the long term consequences can be disastrous. Lack of vitamins in the diet causes multiple problems ranging from bleeding to weak bones to defective night vision. The overall immunity of the body comes down and the person becomes easily susceptible to infections and diseases. Headaches increase and at times people even feel dizzy.


It may seem surprising at first but a detox diet can lead a kind of addiction! Not eating food or having an enema gives a high that is comparable to the intake of nicotine. Once the addiction sets in, it is a gateway to many eating disorders. Body nutrition drops drastically and there are chances of a heart attack too. In some cases, death has resulted due to this addiction to not eating.

Side effects of supplements

As described previously, detox diets lead to gastric troubles and constipation. So, very often supplements are prescribed along with the diets. These supplements are mostly laxatives which are designed to make people frequent the bathrooms. Apart from causing diarrhea, these supplements affect the mineral balance in the body, cause dehydration and complicate the already existing digestive problems.

Mood swings and irritability

The combination of all the above mentioned side effects, apart from taking their toll on the body, take the toll on the mind also. The constant fatigue and exhaustion combined with the gastric troubles tend to make people very irritable. Patience wears thin and temper is on the rise. Mood swings become fairly common and onlookers are simply puzzled with these symptoms. The added craving for food also build on the pressure which finds release in irritable behavior and sour mood.

Skin outbreaks

Though they are often touted as ‘natural’ and the process of ‘toxin release’ the skin outbreaks that appear during the detox diets are an ungainly sight and painful too. These skin outbreaks last anywhere between three to seven days and can cause severe itching. These outbreak symptoms can appear anywhere on the skin and sometimes cause trouble even to do daily routine activities like sitting and sleeping.

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