Everyone wishes there was an easy way to lose weight, something fast that could burn the fat without the exercise. Nowadays, advertisements all over the place say, “lose 5 pounds in a week,” or “slim your waist size in just 3 days!” Fad diets are a common trend seen in contemporary pop culture and promoted by a range of celebrities and people everywhere. Living in Boulder, cleanses and diets are seen as a norm. In a place full of healthy options, cleanses seem like the right thing to do. They are known to be the “quick fix” in losing weight and flushing out toxins in the body. Fad diets guarantee weight loss without exercise and give people food/liquids that will change the appearance of their bodies. The truth is, almost all fad diets, specifically liquid-based cleanses, are dangerous and can hurt our overall health and wellness, not to mention that a significant amount of them are very expensive.
Most people think juice cleanses are an easy way to lose weight, and that the only negative side effect is feeling hungry. However, the truth is far from that. There are many health risks when it comes to juice cleanses, including headaches and dizziness. Another risk is energy loss due to lack of carbohydrates. Although carbs are sometimes thought to be negative and to lead to weight gain, they are actually an important part of a healthy diet. Carbs give the body energy to help maintain sugar levels and prevent diabetes. I know that most people compare carbohydrates to fat and weight gain, but not having intake of carbs lowers energy and can lead to extreme headaches and fatigue as well. Simple carbs are composed of easy-to-digest, basic sugar. These are what would be considered “bad carbs,” such as processed cookies and cakes. Complex carbs are found in whole-grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables. These carbs take longer to break down and provide people with a more consistent amount of energy. People need to know the differences between complex carbs and simple carbs so that they aren’t looked at as food that makes you gain weight.
Liquid cleanses also put the body in starvation mode and actually slow down a metabolism, because your stomach doesn’t know when it’s going to receive food. A majority of weight lost in a liquid cleanse diet is from water weight, which is actually important to have. Along with loss of water weight, the lack of fatty acids causes skin to dry out and age faster, which none of us wants.
There are many examples of extreme fad diets including the Lemonade Diet, The Blue Print diet, and The Raw Juice Cleanse. The Master Cleanse, also known as “The Lemonade Cleanse,” or the “Beyoncé diet,” consists of a 10-12-day daily routine where no solid food can be consumed. This is an example of a diet that is advertised through celebrity status, in this case Beyoncé who claimed to have lost 20 pounds. The cleanse itself contains 2 tablespoons of organic lemon or lime juice, 2 tablespoons of organic Maple Valley Syrup, 1/10 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and 10 ounces of spring or purified water. This “lemonade solution” is supposed to be consumed 6 times per day with the addition of a morning salt water flush. This is an example of one of the least healthy diets you can do.
Another trendy diet is the BluePrint juice cleanse. This cleanse comes with a series of six juices to be consumed every day, and gives you the option of six different sets of juices: BluePrint OG, BluePrint OG-nut free, Balancing Act, Drink Pretty, Keep it 100, and B. Promiscuous. One day of this cleanse costs $65, while a three-day cleanse is $195. The number of days this cleanse is supposed to last is a personal choice; however, they only sell their product in a maximum of a three-day set. Not only is this diet not nourishing, but the cost is impractical. It costs a whopping $200 for just 3 days’ worth of feeling thin. This juice cleanse may be beneficial when it comes to a healthy consumption of fruits and vegetables, but still lacks protein to give you energy throughout the day. One day of the juice cleanse wouldn’t be harmful, but turning it into a lifestyle can harm your body in the long run from the lack of protein, muscle mass, and energy to live a healthy life.
The last cleanse I looked into was the RAW Juice Cleanse. This cleanse gives specific instructions on how to prepare your body before you start. These steps include significantly reducing the following foods: alcohol, dairy, refined sugar, animal products, caffeine, and processed foods. They do give a warning about why you may not feel good during this cleanse and list side effects such as decreased energy, mood swings, aches, and fatigue. Their claim is that your body is releasing all of the bad toxins in your body, and in order to do that, you may not feel well. This is actually false. The real reason you won’t feel well from this cleanse is because it lacks important nutrients and is harming your body. Although this juice cleanse is very detailed on how to face certain physical and emotional reactions, it still limits the nutritious foods that fuel your energy, and therefore isn’t the answer to a healthy diet.
Throughout all of my research on fad diets and liquid cleanses, the phrase that appeared most repeatedly was “quick fix.” Yes, fad diets are ways to lose weight quickly, but not healthily. The “quick” weight being lost is water weight, which is regained quickly once the diet is over. Fad diets are not healthy and are often unreasonably priced. The side effects of these diets and cleanses will hurt someone’s body if incorporated into a regular routine. There are so many positive and healthy ways to maintain a good diet that can give the same effects that people look for through a fad diet, such as eating a healthy amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats through rich, solid, whole foods. This is what we need to be pushing towards in popular culture…not fad diets!