The Truth About Cleanses—3 Fad Diets and What You Should Learn From Them

Cleanses and fad diets are all the rage this time of year when people want a quick way to lose holiday weight. I tried a juice cleanse once. Sure I lost weight but then I gained it all back a week later. And my co-workers, friends and family nicknamed me Mr. Grumpy Pants. I learned the hard way: Cleanses and fad diets don't work on their own. But don’t take it just from me. I asked nutritionist Chrissy Wellington-Garner at Canyon Ranch In Lenox, Massachusetts, to tell me the truth about the most popular cleanses and to share one, if any, good takeaway from each.

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The Truth About Cleanses Clinton Kelly


Why It's Bad

When on a juice cleanse you eliminate all solid food in favor of drinking only vegetable and fruit juices for a week. That means you’re missing out on protein and fiber, two things we all need a lot of. Juice cleanses severely restrict calories. Consequence: you get hangry (which is an awful combo of hungry and angry). Constantly cycling on and off juice cleanses every time you want to slim down and cutting out all other foods for the week could lead to nutrient deficiencies, weight gain (you’ll want to binge when the cleanse ends!), a weakened immune system, and heart and kidney problems.

One Good Takeaway

Getting more greens and veggies into your diet is a positive change. Don’t love kale? Blend it up with some fruit and ice for a palatable (and occasional) way to get it in your system.

A Better Way

Pile your plate with veggies to get the daily fiber your body needs. If you need a liquid fix, choose soups or stews, not juices.

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Why It's Bad

This “elimination” diet says you cannot eat sugar, alcohol, grains and legumes for 30 days. Low fiber alert! Expect extreme hunger, which could lead to overeating. Dairy, except clarified butter or ghee, are also banned. This can lower your calcium and vitamin D intake. Besides, any diet so extreme in banned foods (Paleo included) could not possibly be a good thing, says Wellington.

One Good Takeaway

Lean meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, some fruit, and fats from oils, nuts and seeds are encouraged. These are the building blocks of a stable and healthy diet. Whole 30 also encourages you to choose foods with very few, unpronounceable ingredients. As in: Eat real foods. This is something we should all be doing.

A Better Way

Read labels, ditch artificial sugars and continue to eat mostly lean meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruit, and fats from oils, nuts and seeds. But make sure to consume whole grain starches and legumes in moderation to keep you sated, regulate your blood sugar and maintain a healthy fiber intake to keep your system moving.


Why It's Bad

To all of those allergic to gluten or who have been diagnosed with celiac disease: keep on keeping on. But if you’re going GF because you heard it’s a great way to drop lbs fast, then stop right there! Choosing processed forms of gluten-free items can lead to an increase in sugar, fat and calories. Seems contradictory to me. These foods are also low in whole grains and fiber. Now I sense a bellyache coming on, or at least mild bloating.

One Good Takeaway

There is nothing wrong with choosing mostly non-gluten, high-fiber grains and starches such as sweet potatoes, beans, quinoa, millet and amaranth. Note that these are all “natural” foods, not processed to be gluten free.

A Better Way

Continue to eat a healthy diet consisting of mostly whole, unprocessed foods, such as meat, poultry, fruits, veggies, nuts, beans, legumes, eggs and organic dairy. But for goodness’ sakes eat a piece of wheat toast now and again!

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Cleanses and Fad Diets

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