Post Holiday Detox: 2019 Most Popular Diets Pros and Cons and What Works

Listen in on my latest podcast interview! I’m back on Down the Foxhole talking New Year cleanses, detoxes and diets of 2019. The pros and cons of ALL of them and what works.

Hey. So you’re probably here because you’re curious about cleanses and detoxes. While I recorded this podcast for the uptick in diets that happen with New Years Resolutions, I hope this can be a guide for you throughout the year. Curiosity isn’t a bad thing. Curiosity is great! It questions current habits. It makes us take a look at what we’re doing and what we could do better…or not at all.

We talked about WHY people cleanse and a handful of the most popular detoxes: what’s good and bad for each one including juice kits, Master Cleanse, Whole 30 etc. While I highly recommend listening to the podcast (we think we are funny so I’m bias here), I also have notes below if you’re more of a reader.

Listen to Down The Foxhole.

Do I need to Detox?

You do not need to detox in the sense of going “ON” a detox program- that’s what your skin, liver and kidneys do for a living. It’s part of the whole human package (you don’t even have to pay extra). But do most of us need a habit reset? You bet. During the holidays or events season, the problem becomes your indulgences become your norm. And that’s not normal at all. 

Let’s save ourselves a shi* ton of time here and just lead with this disclaimer: cleanses don’t make lasting change. If weight loss occurs, it’s because of a decrease in calories period. In the most simple way possible, this is how weight management works. The need to provide calorie reduction or increase energy expenditure to achieve weight loss is the same.  You know what does that too? Breast feeding. Should we consider breast feeding a detox?

So if you’re considering a detox plan using supplements or a cleanse or a diet, what you’re probably actually looking for a is a habit shift. Here’s what works about them:

What works?

  1. A plan

  2. Structure

  3. Encouragement and community 


As we get further in discussing individual cleanses, people get more and more angry and protective that they have turned these detoxes or resets into lifestyles. So let me just say, I respect your choice- you do you as long as you’re not forcing your POV and choices on policing the habits of others- but this is me as a health professional providing evidence based information and thought.

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Master Cleanse:

AKA the lemonade diet. This liquid only diet for 10 days consists of a lemonade like drink, salt water drink and a herbal laxative tea. After day 10, foods are gradually added back but with restricting specific categories after that (meat and dairy). This is typically done for fastweight loss, ‘detoxing’ and ‘curbing cravings for unhealthy food’. 

Pros:   Zero thought. It’s a specific time frame of only drinking. Temporary weight loss. Beyonce did it (kidding guys, this does not make it a pro).

Cons:   Same as a juice cleanse but a million times worse for you because there’s no specific attention paid to nutrients. Weight loss can occur but it could be from muscle loss. 99% of the time you’re going to gain this weight right back.

Juice Kits:

Juice plans consist of following a pre-dosed regimen of a liquid diet, most often containing of no fiber, the theory in part being gut rest and detox. Many, but not all, contain a nut based milk element for some fat and protein.

ProsYou don’t have to think. It’s opening a bottle of juice. You are getting a lot of nutrients from a variety of produce. In general, most people will be more hydrated than they typically are. Possibly some temporary weight loss.

Cons:  Lack of fiber. Lack of satiety. Missing the eating experience. Mood issues related to blood glucose levels and calorie deficit. Temporary weight loss.

Whole 30:

The Whole 30 goal is to ‘change your life in 30 days’. It’s a long-ish short-term nutrition reset to change cravings and habits while ‘healing your digestive tract and balancing your immune system’. At its core, it’s more or less at the core an elimination diet.  Specific food groups are avoided (sugar, of any kind including maple, honey, grains, dairy, alcohol and legumes) and any time these foods are consumed, the 30 day count resets.

It’s interesting to note: on the brand website there’s a stipulation that you should NOT CONSUME junk food even with approved ingredients. ‘Recreating or buying sweets, treats etc even if ingredients are compliant is missing the point. ‘a pancake is still a pancake even if it is made with coconut flour’. 

Pros: The hypothetical intention I love- it’s 30 days of resetting nutrition habits. It may reset your palate which can be helpful. When I went to Japan I had minimal typical fats I love and mostly umami based flavors and veggies and seafood. I felt like I craved my cheese a lot less. Another pro is there are lots of Whole30 recipes existing. It’s not calorie restriction specific and they ask you not to weigh or measure self during that time which has a lot of psychological impact. 

Cons: People turn it into a lifestyle when it was only meant to be a 30 day reset. There’s unnecessary restriction of categories of foods I don’t think should be avoided like legumes which are packed with protein, fiber and nutrients and can help you maintain a healthy weight and improve overall wellbeing. There’s a rabid policing community within Whole30 which I find a little toxic. This does require effort to a level people may find impossible for their lives.

Keto Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): 

This is a very low-carb, moderate-protein and high-fat diet similar to Atkins in a way. It typically contains 75% fat, 20% protein and only 5% carbs (whereas a standard diet is more typically 50% carbs, 25% protein, 25% fat ish). Meals are based around meat, fatty fish, eggs, butter and cream, cheese, nuts and seeds, avocados, low carb veggies and “condiments”. This change in macros puts the body into a state called ketosis. The body then uses fat for energy through a totally different process.  Ketosis is characterized by raised levels of ketone bodies in body tissues ‘typically pathological in conditions such as diabetes or the consequence of a diet very low in carbs’. A ketogenic diet used to be prescribed to children with epilepsy in medical nutrition therapy. 

Pros:   Weight loss if that’s your goal. Possible benefits for blood sugar and insulin levels. 

Cons Lack of research on long term effects with concern for kidney function and bone metabolism. Using ketones for energy is your body’s emergency back up system. To me as a food lover, the biggest negative (In my personal opinion) is quality of life. This FAQ on a keto diet website just sounds so beyond miserable to me: “ Q: Can I ever eat carbs again? Yes. After the first 2-3 months you can eat carbs on special occasions”.

HOW TO DETOX FOR NORMAL HUMANS: 

If you’re looking to do a reset of some kind, here’s what I personally do.

  1. Get inspired with health conscious, food forward recipes like anything from Healthyish on Bon Appetit.

  2. Think soup, smoothie, salad (slash roasted veg) and use that as meal bases for a few days.

  3. Consider your cravings as garnishes. Fries on a salad. Crispy chicken over roasted brussels sprouts and butternut squash. That’s our whole ‘indulgence a day’ kind of concept.

  4. Make a plan for how you’re going to accomplish a positive change- create structure and tell people so you can be encouraged.

Listen to Down The Foxhole episode.

Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.