Thinking of a Post-Thanksgiving Detox? Read This.

What is de-toxing? And is it actually good for you?

After a weekend of turkey, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and more than a little wine, you may feel like you’re in need of a commercially-available “cleanse” or “detoxification regime,” or something similar. Before your start mixing apple cider vinegar with honey and cayenne and calling it a meal, let’s evaluate the idea at hand.

First, detoxification and cleanses are different from elimination diets, which use the scientific method to systematically banish and then re-introduce foods to the diet that might be allergenic. Typically, these are foods that cause problems for a lot of people, like dairy, eggs, soy, or foods that contain gluten. If that’s what you’re looking for, Gwyneth Paltrow has a fairly comprehensive 21-day elimination diet plan that still allows for plenty of healthy snacking. Her method also includes recipes.

Second, do you really need a cleanse? According to Prevention Magazine, you really don’t. Why? Because cleanse diets are a great way to lose water weight, but they’re also a great way to lose muscle mass — the very stuff that helps you stay healthy in the long run anyway. Muscle mass burns more calories at rest than the rest of the body’s tissues, but it also weighs more. This is why people at the beginning of their fitness journey might notice weight gain in numbers, but weight loss in dress sizes. The weight is the same, but the mass is not.

And yes, this includes juice cleanses. Even raw, cold-pressed, organic, non-GMO juices can only supplement your diet, not replace it entirely. Juices and shakes are a great way to introduce vegetables and fruits into your diet, especially if you have a hard time with steamed veggies or salads, or you have sensitive teeth and don’t’ enjoy biting into fruit. But a five-day liquid diet won’t make a lasting change on your life or health, and in the meantime your brain will feel as empty as your colon. How sexy does that really sound?