Detox drinks to lose weight have been doing the rounds on social media since the early days of Instagram, promoting easy, fast weight loss results without any mention of dieting or exercise.
Many of these drinks are essentially teas, juices, and smoothies made up of ingredients like fruits, vegetables, and herbs that marketers claim flush out toxins from the body, especially the gut, and boost metabolism. Some are supplementing a low-calorie diet while some are sold as total meal replacements. But it’s very debatable whether they work to do anything other than hydrate.
Whether you’re wondering if green tea can help you lose weight or you’re looking for tips to get into a calorie deficit and lose weight healthily, here, woman&home speaks to a nutritionist to explain the truth behind detox drinks to lose weight and the ones you should try.
Do detox drinks to lose weight work?
No, unfortunately not, explains Sophie Trotman (opens in new tab), a nutritionist specializing in weight management, hormonal imbalances, and gut health. “There’s no clinically relevant evidence behind any of these claims,” she says. “When you look into the research or even the ingredient list of these detox drinks to lose weight, it’s a very different story from the one they’re selling. For example, many ginger shots in grocery stores actually contain 95% apple juice and 5% ginger. They charge way more for these products and the consumer doesn’t get the value. And if anyone vouches for detox drinks to help you lose weight, run a mile.”
In all cases, any weight loss that’s achieved through consuming these drinks is entirely down to a low-calorie diet rather than because of the ingredients in the drinks. When it comes to losing weight or beating a weight loss plateau, a calorie deficit is the only requirement. Teas, smoothies, and juices especially, research from the University of Louisville (opens in new tab) concludes, are low in calories so anyone who takes on a ‘juice detox’ or ‘cleanse’ will likely see results within the first few weeks thanks to this drastic decline in calorie intake but then rebound back to their original weight - or gain even more weight. So not only are these drinks ineffective at the best of times, they can lead you further away from your goal than where you started.
Instead, maintaining a healthy calorie deficit through good nutrition, exercise, and the benefits of not drinking alcohol will be the best way forward. If you have concerns about how to lose weight healthily and how much weight you have to lose, it's best to speak to your healthcare provider.
Are there any benefits to detox drinks?
Referring to herbal teas, Trotman says that some can be beneficial in helping to beat those sugar cravings that often come when you cut back on the amount of sweet treats and artificial sugars you’re consuming.
For those looking to try, she says, “I’m a big fan of Pukka Herbs Liquorice and Peppermint tea for this.”
Which detox drink is good for weight loss?
1. Protein shake
A shake can be a great breakfast for weight loss if it’s formulated appropriately, says the nutritionist. “A source of protein is necessary. For example, a high-quality protein powder, some full-fat Greek yogurt, nuts, and seeds. Protein is a satiating macronutrient and it helps to balance out our blood sugar, reducing cravings later in the day, and keeping our energy levels stable.”
One of the benefits of protein powder is the satiating effect it offers, which can make us less likely to snack during the day, reducing our total calorie intake, and making weight loss easier in the long run. Generally, how much protein you need to eat to lose weight and maintain muscle mass during a fat loss journey differs, however most experts and the Nova Southeastern University (opens in new tab) suggest 1.3g of protein per kilogram of body weight.
2. Vegetable-based smoothies
Opt to include more vegetables than fruit as these contain lots of micronutrients, vitamins and minerals, and fiber but less sugar. “I like to keep spinach and cauliflower in my freezer to add to smoothies. You can barely taste it and the cauliflower adds a delicious creamy texture,” says Trotman.
She adds that when making juices to supplement a healthy, nutritional diet, avoid including juices like apple juice and orange juice. “The fruit in the juice has been pulverized and the fiber removed. The sugar in the fruit becomes ‘free’ and acts the same as added sugar in the body. Many fruit juices on the market also contain added sugar, flavorings, and preservatives.”
This one’s obvious but still worth noting as many of us do not drink the recommended daily intake of water. “Aim to drink two to three liters of water a day,” Trotman suggests, “Non-caffeinated teas can also help you get there, and try to have a large glass of water next to you at all times throughout the day as you’re more likely to drink enough water if you have a large glass.”
For those who like a little something in their water, she suggests flavoring with slices of cucumber, grapefruit, and orange, or herbs like mint and thyme.
A digital health journalist with over five years experience writing and editing for UK publications, Grace has covered the world of health and wellbeing extensively for Cosmopolitan, The i Paper and more.
She started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness. Everything from the best protein powder to sleep technology, the latest health trend to nutrition essentials, Grace has a huge spectrum of interests in the wellness sphere. Having reported on the coronavirus pandemic since the very first swab, she now also counts public health among them.
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