People have turned to various detox diets and cleanses for centuries, even though it may seem like a relatively fad to lose weight. Depending on the particular detox diet you are following, you may expect to see different things leaving your body when you detox.
For example, some TV commercials that try to sell detox supplements for weight loss cleanses show images of black water coming from a foot bath after a foot detox or incredibly long bowel movements of odd colors.
But, what comes out of your body when you detox? What are the symptoms of toxins leaving your body? And what are the differences between a detox vs cleanse?
In this guide, we will discuss a cleanse vs detox, symptoms of toxins leaving your body, and myths and facts about what comes out of your body when you detox or what you excrete from your body when you do a detox or cleanse diet.
We will cover the following:
- What Is the Difference Between a Detox vs Cleanse?
- What Are the Symptoms of Detoxing?
- What Comes Out Of Your Body When You Detox?
- Do Detox Diets Work?
Let’s dive in!
What Is the Difference Between a Detox vs Cleanse?
Before we can look at what comes out of your body during a detox diet or what your body excretes while detoxing using some protocol or a cleanse diet, let’s discuss what a detox diet or detox protocol is and what a cleanse diet or cleanse protocol entails.
The difficulty with defining a “detox diet” or “a cleanse diet “ is that there are so many branded detox diets, commercial cleanses, and fad detoxes popular on social media and DIY weight loss detox diets or cleanses that people create on their own that you can’t really make universal statements about every single cleanse or detox.
For example, some detoxes are liquid diets or a liquid juice cleanse, where you buy premade smoothies or juices that are supposed to help eliminate toxins from your system, reduce belly bloating, decrease inflammation, burn fat, and cause rapid weight loss.
Other detoxes involve pills or foot spas along with certain detox meal plans that you are supposed to follow.There might even be auxiliary detoxing treatments during your weight loss detox, like spa services, saunas, coffee enemas, detox laxatives, heat wraps, or metabolic cleansing drinks, among others.
Given this variety, some detox diet plans and cleanse menus are safer or more extreme than others, and weight loss detox claims vary as well with any of the commercially available cleanse protocols or detox supplements and diet plans.
What Are the Symptoms of Detoxing?
The natural detoxification process—called biotransformation—generally doesn’t have many uncomfortable symptoms, but some symptoms of toxins leaving the body may occur if you are trying an extreme cleanse diet or detox diet plan.
Examples of symptoms of heavy detoxing include:
- Diarrhea or loose stools
- Infrequent bowel movements
- Changes in the color of your stool
- Peeing more frequently
- Irritability or malaise
- Hunger or lack of appetite
- Body odor
- Chills or changes in body temperature
- Joint pain or muscle aches
- Difficulty sleeping
- Changes in appetite
- Acne, rashes, or itchy skin
What Comes Out Of Your Body When You Detox?
Restating the disclaimer that the body has its own detoxification systems and detox diets are not shown to significantly impact the effectiveness or rate of detoxification, here are some of the things that your body removes and excretes during natural detox processes:
- Urea: This is the primary byproduct of protein breakdown that is excreted in the urine after being removed by the body via the kidneys.
- Creatinine: Creatinine is a metabolic byproduct that can be harmful in high concentrations, so it is filtered out of the blood by the kidneys via glomerular filtration or proximal tubular secretion and then excreted in urine.
- Ammonia: Ammonia is a toxin that is processed by the liver and converted into urea and then filtered through the kidneys and excreted in the urine.
- Uric Acid: Like urea, uric acid is excreted in the urine from the kidney detoxification process, and it is a byproduct of breaking down damaged nucleic acids like RNA and DNA.
- Excess Water-Soluble Vitamins: Water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C and B vitamins, when consumed in excess, are processed through the liver and then flushed out of the body through the urine.
- Waste: Undigested food, dead red blood cells, excess salt, hormones components, metabolites, and byproducts of any medications or supplements, and other waste products that the body cannot use are absorbed and are removed through fecal waste and/or urine.
- Heavy Metals: Although heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic are not readily removed from the body—which is why many detox supplements claim to help eliminate heavy metals—some heavy metal buildup is excreted via sweating.
- Sebum and Mucus: Excess sebum, mucus, and dead skin cells are excreted through sweating, coughing, and nasal secretions.
Do Detox Diets Work?
Some popular detox diets are safe and may even be somewhat effective in terms of supporting a metabolic reset of sorts, decreasing inflammation, and jumpstarting weight loss due to caloric restriction while still providing enough nutrients and healthy ingredients to be deemed safe to try.
Generally speaking, plant-based smoothie detoxes or juicing cleanse diets are going to be the safest because you’re putting natural, real food ingredients into your body, and some of these are thoughtfully designed so that you are actually getting a good mix of nutrients.
A great example is the Kroma 5-Day Reset Detox Diet plan.
This is an all-in-one product that you purchase that has five days worth of detox diet smoothies, juices, soups, nutritional bars, and supplements.
They are supposed to help reduce inflammation, boost your metabolism, help you lose weight, and reset your palate for weight loss moving forward.
Plus, it is high in fiber, and fiber is one of the few nutrients that may aid the liver in detoxing the body.
On the other hand, some commercial cleanses and detox products are dangerous and can cause various issues ranging from electrolyte imbalances to rectal burns or rectal perforations, particularly if there are coffee enemas involved or strong laxatives.
Additionally, many cleanse kits or detox weight loss packages you can buy are extremely expensive and really not effective, particularly given all of the claims that they make.
Above all, it’s critical to remember that though some of these programs use the term “detox weight loss diet“ or purport to support “detoxification of the body,“ your body already has organs and systems that do all of the detoxing for you.
In addition, there isn’t strong evidence to suggest that any sort of smoothie, juice, or detox food necessarily accelerates good natural detoxification carried out by your liver, kidneys, sweat, etc.
Therefore, while there can be some detox diet benefits, rather than those benefits of detox diet really qualifying as helping your body detox, the benefits of cleanses and detoxes tend to be more behavioral/mental.
What we mean by behavioral benefits of a detox is that committing to try one of these short-term weight loss cleanses or health detoxes can give you a couple of days to eliminate certain components of your diet that can negatively affect your health.
This includes processed foods, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, salty foods, and other “trigger foods” that you may be addicted to or that are inflammatory, bad for your health, and can cause you to seek similarly sweet, salty, or fatty foods.
Trying a 3 day belly fat detox or a 5 day weight loss detox where you are consuming natural foods with no added sweeteners, very little salt, no alcohol, etc., can help you wean off of palate-appealing, dopamine-spiking, addictive processed foods in your diet like sweets, fast food, sugary coffee drinks, refined grains, etc.
Then, after your 5 day belly fat detox meal plan is over, you have reset your palate barometer for the various tastes: sweet, salty, umami, etc.
From there, it will be easier to feel satisfied from a taste and brain/dopamine standpoint when you eat a piece of real fruit with natural sugar (and less sugar) than fruit snacks, fruit juice, a fruit rollup, or gummy fruity candy.
Similarly, you will find the natural saltiness in foods that contain salt, like fish, chicken, spinach, and egg whites, to be enough to satisfy your hankering for a salty flavor rather than needing to indulge in potato chips, chicken nuggets, or french fries.
Of course, not everyone experiences such drastic improvement.
However, in addition to having an actual physical reset of your palate and a chance to tamp down food cravings from addictive foods, sometimes just the process of staying disciplined is enough to build self-confidence and self-efficacy as well as a commitment to try to stick with a healthier lifestyle diet moving forward.
In a way, detoxes can be a “re-commitment to weight loss“ or a jumpstart to weight loss by helping you drop a few pounds through more extreme measures and then feeling satisfied by committing to something more sustainable and long-term such as the Mediterranean diet, Dash diet, or intermittent fasting.
If you want to try a dietary reset, check out our 3 day belly fat detox diet plan here.