What happens on a “Cleanse” diet

We all know being overweight bumps up your risk of tonnes of chronic medical conditions, causes unnecessary stress on your joints and often leads you down a dark hole to depression and despair. But in your search for weight loss programmes, beware of quick fixes like crash diets, fasts, magic pills and cleanses that can leave your body depleted, dehydrated and possibly even in A&E.

The list of risks that come with these are longer than the guitar solo in Stairway to Heaven, and even in the best case scenario, you’ll likely come off with barely any fat loss to show for your efforts, and instead drop several pounds of lean mass leaving your body ready and willing to pile on the rebound weight faster than Kim Kardashian can file divorce papers.

Here’s what happens when you go on quick fix crash diet or “cleanse”:


Crash diets, starvation diets and cleanses that promote elimination will leave your body seriously dehydrated. You will lose weight, that’s a given. But the majority of that weight loss is water weight, your body will pull fluid from your cells and blood to replace lost water.

And just to kick you while you’re down, you’ll probably experience fatigue, headaches, and constipation and it can eventually lead to kidney stones or impaired kidney function.


Reduced blood volume also leads to rapid heart rate and shortness of breath as your heart struggles to supply oxygen and nutrients to your body.

Not a great start. But there’s more…

Arrhythmias And Dysrhythmias

In addition to your heart beating faster trying to pump less blood through your system, crash diets and cleanses disrupt the supply of electrolytes that keep your heart beating. When no food is coming in or food and fluids are rapidly leaving your body the resulting lack of electrolytes, particularly sodium, potassium and magnesium leads to decreased cardiovascular function and irregularities like dangerous heart arrhythmias.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Extremely low calorie crash diets or fad diets like the grapefruit diet or cabbage diet do not provide the nutrients your body needs to function properly. Soon you’ll be short on iron, calcium, vitamins and amino acids. You’ll most likely eventually experience anaemia, bone loss and muscle wasting as your body “eats” muscle tissue (lean mass) to support your metabolism.

Remember that loss of lean mass I was talking about? Yeah that.

And of course, for every pound of muscle you lose, you could be burning anything up to 100 calories LESS daily.

Starvation And Hormones

If that wasn’t bad enough, restricting calories or eliminating food groups entirely will cause your body to resist starvation by converting any and all calories to stored body fat – The opposite to what you’re trying to achieve!

Your body will release hormones that trigger fat storage to provide emergency supplies of fat for fuel, as you work hard to lose fat your body is working harder to store it. Your metabolism will slow down to preserve fat, one of the reasons you’ll chomp down on the calorie burning, body shaping lean mass you have. Lean mass burns tonnes of calories compared to body fat, so is expensive to keep, and a much quicker source of energy than your fat stores.

Rebound Weight Gain

Like I said, you’re likely to ditch weight in the short term, but not only will you look any better for it, but studies show there’s a bigger than 80% chance that you will gain that weight back, and a bit more just to be on the safe side.

The negative effects of crash diets, fad diets and unnecessary cleanses cause feelings of hunger and hormone surges during your weight loss and cause rebound weight gain once you stop dieting.

As we’ve said, as much as 50% of your weight loss will be lean body mass including muscle, fluid, and electrolytes, and all the while, your body is priming itself to soak up any and all calories it can lay its hands on when it’s all over.

Once you stop dieting and return to “normal” eating, your body will quickly replace the essential tissues causing your weight to rebound, FAST!

Just do it right!

I know it’s tempting to just take the pill that the unqualified lady on Instagram posting photos of her feet on scales tells you to, but losing weight safely takes time, but more importantly consistency.

Look at it this way. Would you bring your kids up to eat a healthy diet? Or would you teach them to pop pills and potions? Of course you wouldn’t. You teach them to eat their greens, and to be patient in life.

You’re no different.

Find a proven and safe programme and stick to it. Not for a few days, or even a few weeks, but you need to change your lifestyle so you can keep putting one foot in front of the other.

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