vinegar cleanse

Clearing Up Rumors Around the Cleansing Diet Fad

Every few months or so a drink that claims to be a cure-all for weight loss regains popularity across multiple social media platforms and email inboxes, and with it come multiple declarations of its legitimacy.

We spoke with Amy Goodson, a registered dietitian at Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine Fort Worth, to find out if these drinks are miracle workers or just a bunch of hype.

Many of these curative drinks are apple cider vinegar (ACV) based, she said. They usually contain a tablespoon or two of ACV along with a mixture of spices and acidic juices that promise to cleanse, help you lose body fat, boost energy and reverse disease. Despite the numerous claims from seemingly trustworthy websites, Goodson also said there’s no science behind it.

“There is no science supporting cleanses for weight loss or helping your body ‘cleanse,’” Goodson said. “That is more of a media hype or what I call ‘popular science.’”

Although small studies have been performed and showed promising results, ACV has not been well-studied in terms of its potential for weight loss, according to a 2011 review article published in American Family Physician. 

“There is no peer-reviewed research, to my knowledge, that apple cider vinegar actually helps anything,” Goodson said. “Sure it might, but nothing supports that it does. That’s the difference.”

Goodson also noted that she believes many people use cleanses as more of a mental jump start to a weight loss or workout program, which can be beneficial, but results from the cleanse may be a bit misleading.

“Some people do juice-type cleanses for longer periods and sometimes weight loss does occur but it is because of a caloric deficit, not the cleanse,” she said.

If you’re not accompanying the cleanse with a change in diet as well, Goodson warned you will gain the weight right back, making it a quick way to lose weight but not a long-term solution.

Many websites instruct that you take the drink before a meal to help you feel fuller, essentially allowing you to eat less in the moment and thus allowing you to lose weight, but it’s important to remember how our bodies digest what we introduce to it. Since water moves through your system more quickly than solid food, you may feel full quicker while eating, but you’ll also most likely feel hungry again a lot faster, which can derail your weight loss efforts.

Brittany Bearden, sports dietitian for Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine, said lean, high-quality protein is a better way to attack a weight loss program.

“Protein can promote weight loss because it increases satiety, making it easier to control your appetite due to feeling full longer,” Bearden says. “Protein also helps maintain calorie-burning muscle mass, which facilitates the weight you lose to come from fat mass.”

So the next time a detox drink takes over your social media platforms, and we can almost guarantee it will happen again soon, remember there’s never a quick fix to anything, especially when it comes to our health and bodies.

“I’m not a fan of any cleanse, ever. Like I always tell people, that’s what your kidneys and liver are for,” Goodson said. “As a registered dietitian, I say no cleanses ever; don’t waste your money or time.”

For more information on our sports nutrition program, click here.

Are all fad diets really bad? Read here to learn more about what’s worth your time and what isn’t. 


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